Recently, Devon's developed a certain fondness for elephants... her new favorite toy is a squirty elephant for the bathtub, she LOVED "Horton Hears a Who," and if I ask her to point at an elephant in a book, she always gets it right (ducks too)
But all this talk of elephants got me thinking about Jenny again, the elephant from the Dallas Zoo. When I first saw her, I did not know about the huge controversy surrounding this poor creature. I remember I was so excited to see the elephant exhibit (this past September) but when I saw her backed into the corner of her small enclosure, rocking back and forth repeatedly (maybe to relieve boredom) but to me it looked more like she was trying to comfort herself... to me, she looked very lonely in there and it made me so sad.
My sister was the one who first told me about Keke (Jenny's companion that had died this past May) this prompted the Dallas Zoo to make a decision to send Jenny to Africam Safari Park in Puebla, Mexico. She was to roam freely on 5 acres of land that she would share with a future female companion. Sounds great to me, but this decision sparked opposition to Jenny's move by animal rights groups such as People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. They raised concerns that Mexico does not have the same animal welfare standards as the United States and also questioned the construction and the cars traveling through Africam. Also, opponents have said there are signs the three Asian elephants at Africam are in distress. This was the result of a video taken that shows them swaying back and forth – an indication of "depression in elephants, loneliness and frustration," (Which is exactly what I saw Jenny doing) They urged council members to send her instead to a 2,700-acre sanctuary in Tennessee where 17 other traumatized elephants are kept in seclusion.
But now it seems that the Dallas Zoo plans to keep Jenny right where she is. Plans are underway to build a larger $10 million dollar elephant habitat that could house as many as four elephants. This new habitat, part of a $40 million dollar African Savanna exhibit, will be completed in spring 2010 rather than mid-2012 as planned. Meanwhile, the AZA (Association of Zoos and Aquariums) is helping Dallas Zoo officials identify a new companion for Jenny. Supposedly officials were eager to have the new elephant in the zoo by November (in an article I read from this past August, however it seems that Jenny still does not have a companion) I hope I'm wrong... it would mean that Jenny has been sitting alone in that small enclosure (said to measure less than a quarter of an acre) for 8 months now. My wish for Jenny is that they find her a companion ASAP! It would make even living in that small space much more enjoyable for her until she can finally move.