PETA claims elephant calf is traumatized, Pittsburgh Zoo responds

PETA released a statement Wednesday morning urging the Pittsburgh Zoo to stop breeding elephants after it claims that the new elephant calf was prematurely isolated.

Part of the statement about the letter PETA sent to the zoo reads as follows:

“In the letter, PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that ‘animals are not ours to use for entertainment’—notes that the calf and her mother were separated even after they had reportedly bonded and that splitting up elephant families has severe effects on both mother and child. The trauma can cause lifelong behavioral problems, such as aggression, a lack of appropriate social skills, and an increased frequency of abnormal behavior.

‘Elephants are highly intelligent, emotional, and social animals who suffer when separated from their close-knit families, just as humans do,’ says PETA Foundation Associate Director of Captive Animal Law Enforcement Rachel Mathews. ‘PETA is calling on the Pittsburgh Zoo to stop breeding and traumatizing elephants in a transparent ploy to lure in ticket buyers with the promise of baby animals.'”

The Pittsburgh Zoo issued the following statement in response:

“The Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium is a leader in the conservation, care, and management of African elephants.

The Zoo’s teams have been meeting for several months to prepare for the birth and immediately responded when Seeni gave birth last Wednesday morning earlier than expected. Average gestation for a female African elephant calf is 645 days, and Seeni’s calf arrived at 615 days. When keepers entered the barn, they saw the young calf lying down. They immediately got the little elephant back on her feet and near the mother.

The Zoo’s veterinary team is prepared for situations of this nature, and completed a physical exam of both Seeni and her calf. It was determined that Seeni was not producing the milk needed to feed her calf and the calf’s blood sugar levels were dangerously low so zoo keepers began bottle-feeding the little calf immediately.

Zoo policy is to always support and create a positive environment for both mom and baby to bond. The elephant manager kept the baby near mom for over 24 hours. At first Seeni showed some interest in her baby and was not aggressive, but when she had the opportunity to walk away, she left her baby and went outside to graze. This is not the behavior for mothers of newborn calves.

Zoo staff members were faced with ensuring the survival of the healthy calf, while also providing her the best opportunity to integrate her back into an elephant herd. The decision was made to transport the little calf from the International Conservation Center to Pittsburgh where she would be welcomed into a herd with a matriarch, aunts, and sisters, including a lactating female elephant who is still nursing a calf.

Every day, the elephant herd is given an opportunity to see and interact with the calf. The calf is very curious about the other elephants at the barn and they are curious about her. She hears them rumble and she rumbles back to them.

The Pittsburgh Zoo has an excellent reputation for reintroducing baby animals back to their family groups, most recently with a baby gorilla named Ivan in 2013.

Though everyone is pleased with how the little calf is progressing, they are also cautious and on alert for any signs of infection or illness.

The little calf is doing well, but she still has a long way to go.”


Read the original article here.

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