Following the incredible rescue of Pakistan's solitary elephant Kaavan last year, Cher's organization Free the Wild has set their sights on helping Lucy. Lucy is a 46-year-old Asian elephant housed in inhumane conditions in frigid Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. Cher has sent a personal letter to the Mayor of Edmonton and the Edmonton Valley Zoo, offering to bring in an international elephant expert to examine Lucy to determine what is Lucy's condition and how free the Wild can help. The zoo claims they are considering this request but are dragging their heels in making a final decision.
Lucy's situation is urgent. While still a relatively young elephant she appears much older than she is, she suffers from numerous health conditions, has difficulty ambulating and is withdrawn and depressed. She has deteriorated over the past many years and with the average lifespan of a zoo elephant being only 45 years, she is running out of time.
For over a decade, the Edmonton Valley Zoo has claimed that transporting Lucy to sanctuary could put her life at risk due to an undiagnosed breathing problem. These claims are simply rhetoric that we often see used by many zoos facing pressure to retire their elephants. Across the globe, countless ailing and aging elephants have been successfully transported to sanctuary, many travelling for days to reach their destination. The Valley Zoo stated in 2019 that they agree that Lucy should be retired to sanctuary if it was medically safe to do so and added that if Lucy was to be transported, she would travel by air. That means Lucy could fly to her new beautiful sanctuary home in a matter of hours. To date, they have not allowed in any elephant experts that are not affiliated with the zoo and have declined offers to have Lucy examined by independent world-renowned experts at no cost to the zoo or city. Of course, the zoo's veterinary consultants say that Lucy's life would be at risk during transport.
Lucy came to Edmonton in 1977 as a 2-year-old baby Asian elephant. She was cruelly captured from the wilds of Sri Lanka and sold to the Edmonton Valley Zoo. Lucy should have still been nursing for several more years and she would have spent her entire life in a closely bonded matriarchal herd with her mother and extended family. Since her arrival Lucy has never lived with another of her species. Keeping Lucy alone is considered one of the cruelest things that you can do to a female elephant according to species experts. Lucy has been deprived of these important bonds for almost her entire life. Her only company are her keepers who manage her with a bullhook and control every move she makes. Lucy is a docile and obedient elephant, and no doubt is aware of the pain a bullhook can inflict.
Lucy is the northernmost elephant in North America and as such is exposed to Edmonton's harsh winter climate which can mean snow and sub arctic temperatures for many months of the year. Due to climate, it is estimated that Lucy is confined indoors in her concrete barn for 2/3rds of her life. Her enclosure is tiny, barren and lacking anything natural. Lucy has no place to swim or wallow in the mud. She is fed an unnatural diet and due to inactivity is obese and according the the zoo's own consultants, she 1000 lbs overweight.
Lucy suffers from significant arthritis, chronic foot infections, colic, zoochosis, obesity, painful dental issues and an undiagnosed breathing condition which the zoo claims preclude her from being safely retired to sanctuary. All of these ailments are captivity related and don't exist in wild elephant populations.
Despite repeated pleas to allow Lucy to retire to a sanctuary by hundreds of thousands of people, including world renowned experts and celebrities, the local politicians and zoo administrators refuse to let her go. The Edmonton Valley Zoo is owned by the City of Edmonton.
Created by Lucy's Edmonton Advocates' Project (LEAP)
Edmonton, Alberta, Canada