• by: Antoinette Gonzales
  • recipient: Dennis Pate, Executive Director and CEO of Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium, United States Fish & Wildlife Service & Swaziland, Africa wildlife authorities.

This zoo wins #1 position and is tied with two other zoos winning an award for putting the “con” in conservation for their despicable efforts to import 18 young elephants who were captured in the wild in Swaziland and traumatically taken from their mothers and families. The zoos are working with Big Game Parks, a questionable family-run outfit that runs the parks containing the elephants. Big Game Parks last exported elephants to U.S. zoos in 2003, claiming they would have to otherwise kill elephants because the population had grown too large. “Too large” was a population for approximately 40 elephants. At that time, U.S. zoos paid $100,000 to Big Game Parks for 11 elephants. The stakes are even higher this time. The data shows that elephants are not thriving in zoos, where they die prematurely due to captivity caused problems. As a result, elephant displays are quickly emptying. In exchange for the 18 elephants, the zoos are offering Big Game Parks $450,000, purportedly – and most dubiously – for them to use for rhino conservation. Further, the zoos are even claiming to be rescuing the elephants, when the reality is that they conveniently “overlooked” options to keep the elephants in Africa – where they belong. Don’t fall for the zoos’ con job.

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