'Enslaved' Killer Whale Case May Mark New Frontier in Animal Rights

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'Enslaved' Killer Whale Case May Mark New Frontier in Animal Rights

'Enslaved' Killer Whales Case May Mark New Frontier in Animal Rights  -  by Paul Koring


"...This is the first time a court has ever considered whether the 13th Amendment applies to the whales,' attorney Jeffrey Kerr, the attorney for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals said, adding freeing the orcas was the next frontier of civil rights.

The 13th Amendment - passed in 1865-abolished slavery.

'Forty years ago, I fought for the fundamental right of people to marry the person of their choosing, regardless of race,' said Paul Hirschkop, who won a landmark case on interracial marriage in Virginia.

Now I'm fighting for these orcas' fundamental rights to be free from enslavement regardless of their species.'

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Lonely Zoo Elephant Hasn't Had A Friend In 11 Years

For Lucy the Asian elephant, life at the Edmonton Valley Zoo in Alberta, Canada, is as lonely as it gets.

Every day for Lucy is mostly the same. She stands in her barren concrete enclosure, behind a glass wall, as visitors watch her slowly pace around.

She has a tire hanging from the ceiling as a toy and no pool or mud bath to play in outside. And it’s been over a decade since Lucy last saw another elephant.

“She spends her days alone in a glass cage where the walls are painted with artificial trees,” Mary-Ann Holm, cofounder of Lucy’s Edmonton Advocates’ Project(LEAP), told The Dodo. “The only trees she has access to are behind electric fencing, just out of reach.”

Lucy is 43 years old, and has been at the zoo since she was taken from the wild in 1977 as a calf. She was alone for many years, until the zoo brought in a young African elephant named Samantha for Lucy to “mother” in 1989.

Lucy and Samantha shared the same enclosure for 18 years. It was likely just as barren then — but they had each other. In 2007, the zoo sent Lucy’s only friend away to North Carolina on a breeding loan. Samantha was never brought back.

“It was quite devastating for her to go from having a companion, to suddenly being all alone again,” Holm said. “There are many photos of the two standing right next to each other, and holding trunks together. But the zoo claimed that Lucy didn’t like her, and that she [Lucy] is actually an antisocial elephant who prefers humans.”

Elephants are a social species through and through, and develop complex relationships with family and friends in the company of other elephants. Studies show how abnormal solitary life is for elephants — yet many zoos across the world force them to live like this.


LEAP has been advocating for years to have Lucy sent to a sanctuary, but their calls have been ignored by zoo management and public officials who would have the power to arrange it.

Two elephant sanctuaries in the U.S. have already offered to take Lucy in, and celebrity Bob Barker has even said he’ll sponsor her travel costs.

The zoo says Lucy has a respiratory condition that would make traveling dangerous — but according to elephant expert and veterinarian Dr. Phillip Ensley, this could be eased if she didn’t live in such a cold climate.

In the wild, Asian elephants live in a tropical climate of around 80 degrees Fahrenheit year-round. During Alberta winters, temperatures can drop as low as -40 degrees Fahrenheit.

“Dr. Ensley has stated our climate is likely the cause of her respiratory issues,” Holm said. “In the dead of winter, we’ll have a cold snap for weeks where Lucy will not see the light of day. Other times, she’s been taken outside for ‘walks’ in the snow. I have photos of her up to her knees in snow. With her arthritis and joint problems, I can’t imagine how painful that must be.”