Elephant's Death to Renew U.S. Outcry over Zoos
SALT LAKE CITY The death of the last of three elephants once housed at Chicago's Lincoln Park Zoo has sparked renewed protest about how the animals are treated in captivity.
Wankie, a 36-year-old African elephant, was euthanized after falling ill en route to Salt Lake City's Hogle Zoo, the Utah zoo's director said Monday.
The elephant was loaded into a crate Friday and sent 1,400 miles from Chicago to Salt Lake City.
"She collapsed in the crate somewhere in Nebraska," said zoo director Craig Dinsmore. "Her condition deteriorated. After eight hours it was determined it was not in her best interest to prolong her life."
Wankie was euthanized Sunday, and an autopsy will be performed.
Animal rights groups have scheduled a protest in Chicago Tuesday about the confinement and treatment of zoo and circus elephants at Lincoln Park and elsewhere.
They say many of the animals suffer in captivity and die at much younger ages than their 70-year life span in the wild.
The groups had tried to send Wankie to a Tennessee elephant sanctuary and complained that zoo officials moved her prematurely.
Wankie was transferred because elephants are considered highly social animals and her two companions -- Tatima, 35, and Peaches, 55 -- have died within the past seven months.
The three arrived in Chicago two years ago from the San Diego Wild Animal Park, which was making room for younger elephants.
Critics said the animals were stressed by adjusting to Chicago's colder climate and hours spent indoors.
Chicago's City Council was to hold hearings soon on a proposal to ban elephants from being exhibited at the small lakefront zoo.