Seneca Park Zoo ranked 4th worst zoo for elephants on activist group’s list

Animals

(News 8 WROC photo/Matt Driffill)

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — The Seneca Park Zoo has ranked fourth on In Defense of Animal’s Top 10 worst zoos for elephants in 2020.

The zoo was previously ranked ninth on the list in 2019, but have since moved to 4th.

In Defense of Animals — an international animal protection organization — says that two of the three remaining elephants — Genny C and Lilac — are suffering from arthritis. Chana, an African elephant, was euthanized in October of 2019. Zoo officials said it due to chronic issue in one of the nails of her front left foot.

MORE | African Elephant dies at Seneca Park Zoo

“Under these cold, restricted space conditions, it’s no wonder that of the three elephants at the Zoo, two are currently being treated for arthritis,” the list reads. “Genny C, age 44, has painful, debilitating arthritis that began when she was only 34.  Lilac, age 43, has the same condition in her wrist. Chana being euthanized because of her suffering from severe foot problems, and the osteoarthritis in Genny C and Lilac, both fit the pattern of how captivity kills elephants in zoos.”

The list cited the cold weather and the limited space as factors for making the list as well.

“Elephants can tolerate cold and snow up to a point, but the climate at Seneca Park Zoo often requires them to stay inside heated barns. AZA (Association of Zoos and Aquariums) accreditation standards are clear that whenever the temperature goes below 40 degrees longer than 60 minutes for an elephant, supplemental heat or other measures must be implemented and elephants must be monitored every 60 minutes. The frequent and far colder outdoor temperatures that last for months at the Zoo cannot be mitigated this way, so the elephants have to remain in the barn much of the time. 

In Defense of Animals has measured the outdoor ‘yards’ and barn, and found the outdoor yard is one-third smaller than the walled-in barn. The barn is about 0.87 acres, but it’s not open space. It’s divided into several steel-barred stalls. The outdoor ‘yards,’ when available, are even smaller — one-third less in total. Outdoors, three large African elephants get only 0.54 acres for life, but even that is divided into three smaller parts at Seneca Park Zoo. That’s a terribly small space for elephants.”

The full list can be found here.

Dr. Louis DiVincenti of the Seneca Park Zoo responded with a statement Tuesday:

“The elephant program at Seneca Park Zoo is exemplary, and we prioritize the physical, mental, and behavioral well-being of the elephants in everything we do. As an AZA-accredited Zoo, we participated in the landmark Elephant Welfare Initiative to identify best practices for elephant care. Along with our colleagues at other AZA-accredited Zoos, we use this science-based approach to guide our decisions – from the elephants’ diet and physical environment to our interactions with them and what we provide to keep them physically and mentally stimulated all year long.

Genny C (43), Lilac (42), and Moki (38) have received excellent care here at Seneca Park Zoo, and we routinely conduct behavioral and welfare assessments to ensure that our program evolves with the changing needs of our elephants. These magnificent animals play an important role in our community as ambassadors for their wild counterparts, inspiring the next generation of conservation leaders and helping us support conservation efforts in nature.”

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