Ruth is 55 years old; Emily is 48 years old. Elephants in captivity in North America rarely live to 60 years (only 12 of the 279 elephants listed in the 2010 Asian Elephant Studbook are 60 years old or older.)
Both elephants have had chronic foot and ankle problems for years, a leading contributing cause to early death for elephants. For the last two years, they did not receive the arthritis medicine they needed in the winter.
In good weather they spend 15 hours a day in a concrete barn. In the winter, they spend up to 20 hours a day in the concrete barn. Both have painful face and hip pressure sores--like bedsores.
Their yard is less than 1/2 acre in size.
In contrast, The Elephant Sanctuary has 2,700 acres in a Southern climate. The Sanctuary has 15 years experience helping old, sick, and needy elephants return to a natural life. See www.elephants.com.
And it would benefit the City and the Zoo--keeping elephants costs about $300,000 per year. The Zoo is expected to take in $405,000 in Fiscal Year 2013. That money could be spent on improving the condition of the other exhibits.
Finally, it would teach the children who visit the Zoo how to be humane to the special creatures in our care. We can tell them that Ruth and Emily got to retire--and they can still watch them on The Elephant Sanctuary's el-cams!