Pachyderm Paradise or Elephant Exile?
In 2005, an elephant at the Bronx zoo named Happy stood in front of a jumbo-sized mirror, lifted up her trunk, and touched a paint mark on her forehead. This small gesture proved something pretty big: that elephants -- like gorillas, dolphins and humans -- are self-aware. The finding -- which was published in a prominent scientific journal – became ammunition for those who oppose elephants in zoos. These critics say there’s no way an animal this large, intelligent and emotionally complex belongs in captivity. And some zoos have agreed, making the decision to close their pachyderm exhibits. But most zoos are committed to keeping their elephants – even spending millions of dollars so they can house more of them. Who’s right? And what does the fight over elephants in zoos say about the future of zoos, themselves?