Law is first of its kind in the nation; prohibits breeding and capture of orcas
Washington, D.C., September 14, 2016 -- Born Free USA, a global leader in animal welfare and wildlife conservation, commends California governor Jerry Brown for signing S.B. 839 yesterday: a budget bill that includes the California Orca Protection Act. Authored by Assembly member Richard Bloom (D-50), this law bans the possession, capture, export, and breeding of orcas in California, with an exemption for orcas currently held in captivity.
According to Adam M. Roberts, CEO of Born Free USA, “California is setting a momentous precedent by becoming the first state in the nation to outlaw breeding and future possession of orcas. This legislative remedy remains urgently necessary, even after SeaWorld’s major announcement on March 17 that it would immediately end the breeding program for its orcas globally and phase out its theatrical orca shows by 2019. The California Orca Protection Act is an essential next step to legally codify SeaWorld’s business decision, and also prevent other corporations from filling this newly vacant entertainment space. It ensures that the 11 orcas in San Diego are the last generation of captive orcas displayed in the state.”
Orcas are unsuited to captivity and suffer enormously in marine parks. These remarkably intelligent animals swim 100 miles per day in the wild and have profound relationships with their family pods. In the wild, the average lifespan is 30 years for males and 46 years for females, although they have been known to live 90 years. Captive orcas are susceptible to a range of ailments and issues that cause misery and drastically shorten their lives. Mental anguish takes a severe toll and orcas have been known to self-mutilate out of boredom and desperation. Most die before they reach age 25 in tanks that are only 1/10,000th of one percent the size of their natural home ranges.
Roberts adds, “The needs of these smart and social animals cannot be met at all in captivity. Great progress has been made for orcas this year, and California’s new law is another groundbreaking step toward ending orca captivity entirely. Born Free USA hopes other states will follow California and pass similar compassionate legislation to empty the tanks.”
Born Free USA is a global leader in animal welfare and wildlife conservation. Through litigation, legislation, and public education, the organization leads vital campaigns against animals in entertainment, exotic “pets,” trapping and fur, and the destructive international wildlife trade. Born Free USA brings to North America the message of “compassionate conservation”—the vision of the United Kingdom-based Born Free Foundation, established in 1984 by Bill Travers and Virginia McKenna, stars of the iconic film Born Free, along with their son, Will Travers. Born Free USA’s mission is to end suffering of wild animals in captivity, conserve threatened and endangered species, and encourage compassionate conservation globally. More at www.bornfreeusa.org, www.twitter.com/bornfreeusa, and www.facebook.com/bornfreeusa.
Oakland, CA...July 14, 2016 – Oakland Zoo’s elephant program contributed to a special collection of peer-reviewed scientific research articles resulting from a comprehensive study on North American zoo elephant welfare. The collections is available today in the scientific journal PLOS ONE. It includes nine research papers, an overview and formal commentary explaining the significance of the work and its importance to better understand and enhance zoo elephant welfare.
“Oakland Zoo applauds AZA for taking on such a massive institutional study to work on improving the livelihood of elephants in captivity. Being involved in elephant research and data collection in and out of the field for twenty years, Oakland Zoo is committed to continuously improving the lives of elephants, a sensitive, highly intelligent, sentient, and complex being. We understand that the more we learn about this species in the wild and in captivity, we can manage them appropriately to encourage species typical behaviors. This study is one step toward that goal,” said Gina Kinzley, Co-Lead Elephant Manager at Oakland Zoo.
This is the first and only multi-institution study to comprehensively identify and measure variables that significantly contribute to North American zoo elephant welfare, thus allowing science to inform management practices, according to Anne Baker, Ph.D., one of several principal investigators of the project. “Many AZA-accredited zoos are already using knowledge we’ve learned from the research to improve the welfare of their elephants.”
The collection, titled Epidemiological Investigations of North American Zoo Elephant Welfare, is available online and is accessible to the public. (See journals.plos.org)
The research is the outcome of work by a 27-member study team, which includes independent consultants, zoo professionals, and faculty from three universities. The study was funded by an $800,000 leadership grant from the federal Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) awarded to the Honolulu Zoo Society and administered by Kathy Carlstead, Ph.D. Team members and dozens of research assistants from widely varied disciplines developed quantitative measures to assess multiple elephant-welfare indicators as well as a large variety of housing and management practices.
“Zoo elephant welfare is a topic of public interest, but the lack of available data on this specific population made it difficult to differentiate fact from opinion, ” said Cheryl Meehan, Ph.D., the study’s consulting project manager and director of AWARE Institute, in Portland, OR. “The collection provides a scientific perspective on a number of issues that are important to the conversation about elephants in zoos, and it is forward-looking as a resource that can help shape and inform the future of elephant care.”
The collection resulted from a comprehensive study analyzing the daily lives of 255 Asian and African elephants in 68 North American zoos accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). Data were collected in 2012 and preliminary results presented at AZA conferences in 2013 and 2014. Research focused on factors related to the wellbeing of elephants that can be scientifically observed, measured, and analyzed, including: behavior, body condition, foot and joint health, female reproductive function, and walking distance - Oakland Zoo's elephants were also part of the behavior studies which measured stereotypic behavior performance, walking distances and recumbence behavior. Nearly 96 percent of North American AZA-accredited zoos with elephants participated in the study.
Results showed that the elephants’ social lives play the biggest role in supporting behavioral health. For example, primary importance is for elephants to spend time in groups, and not be socially isolated. Human care takers also can play an important role in an elephant’s social life through husbandry, training and interactive sessions.
Although space is often linked to welfare in public discussions about elephants in zoos, researchers did not find evidence that the amount of enclosure space supports greater amounts of walking, decreased stereotypic behavior, improved body condition, or better foot and joint health.
The study did find that the quality of the space and management practices is important to elephant welfare. For example, the research demonstrated that decreased time spent on hard flooring significantly reduced the risk of foot and joint problems, which were found to be important health concerns for the population.
And the research team discovered a previously unknown link between the quality of enrichment and feeding programs and female reproductive health. This result indicates that day-to-day management practices could be an important tool in addressing the reproductive issues that are particularly common among female African elephants.
“This groundbreaking approach provides a model for measuring welfare in managed animal populations with the potential to conduct similar studies to benefit many different species cared for in zoos and aquariums,” said Meehan. “And this research can be extended to inform elephant conservation efforts given that only a minority of free-ranging elephants exists in large undisturbed protected areas, while many “wild” elephants are managed in small reserves.”
ABOUT OAKLAND ZOO
The Bay Area's award-winning Oakland Zoo is home to more than 660 native and exotic animals. The Zoo offers many educational programs and kid's activities perfect for science field trips, family day trips and exciting birthday parties. Oakland Zoo is dedicated to the humane treatment of animals and wildlife conservation onsite and worldwide; with 25¢ from each ticket donated to support conservation partners and programs around the world. The California Trail, a transformational project that more than doubles our size, opens in 2018, and will further our commitment to animal care, education, and conservation with a focus on this state’s remarkable native wildlife. Nestled in the Oakland Hills, in 500-acre Knowland Park, the Zoo is located at 9777 Golf Links Road, off Highway 580. The East Bay Zoological Society (Oakland Zoo) is a nonprofit 501(c)3 organization supported in part by members, contributions, the City of Oakland and the East Bay Regional Parks. For more information, go to: www.oaklandzoo.org
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Born Free USA database shows that these incidents are part of a larger problem with captivity
Washington, D.C., June 10, 2016 -- A leopard named Zeya escaped from her enclosure at the Hogle Zoo in Salt Lake City, Utah this week, marking the latest in a string of recent escapes, injuries, deaths, and other disturbing incidents at zoos. Born Free USA, a global leader in animal welfare and wildlife conservation, calls for an immediate review of all safety and emergency protocols for the keeping of potentially dangerous wild animals in zoos across the U.S. and globally.
According to Adam M. Roberts, CEO of Born Free USA, “Zeya was simply demonstrating the curiosity, agility, and desire for independence you would expect from a leopard, within the thoroughly unnatural confines of her life at the zoo. The blame here does not lie with a wild animal for acting like a wild animal, but rather with the Hogle Zoo for both its long-term exploitation of this animal and its inadequate safety measures. It is fortunate that no one was hurt during this incident, although tranquilizing an animal is never without risk. However, many animals and humans do not escape unscathed from this type of event.”
In addition to Zeya the leopard at the Hogle Zoo on June 7, there have been several other incidents at zoos in just under two weeks:
- On May 27, a male wolf named Rebel at the Menominee Park Zoo in Oshkosh, Wisconsin was euthanized after visitors took advantage of an improperly opened gate and Rebel nipped the hand of a four-year-old child who stuck his fingers through the enclosure's chain-link fence.
- On May 28, Harambe, a 17-year-old gorilla at the Cincinnati Zoo, was killed after a young boy fell into his enclosure.
- On June 5, a male lion at Chiba Zoological Park in Tokyo, Japan was filmed crashing into a protective glass wall as he tried to pounce on a little boy.
These are not isolated or unusual events at zoos. According to the Born Free USA Exotic Animal Incidents Database, since 1990, there have been 224 instances of injury to a person by an animal at a zoo, and 128 human deaths. Additionally, 87 zoo animals have been killed by humans.
Roberts continues, “These staggering numbers are appalling and preventable. Zeya’s escape, Harambe’s and Rebel’s deaths, and countless other tragedies are caused by a severe lack of attention to public safety and animal welfare at zoos. There is absolutely no reason to imprison these wild animals in cages, and there is no reason why people should be in such close proximity at all to dangerous wild animals. These animals do not belong anywhere but in their natural habitats, in the wild.”
Born Free USA is a global leader in animal welfare and wildlife conservation. Through litigation, legislation, and public education, Born Free USA leads vital campaigns against animals in entertainment, exotic "pets," trapping and fur, and the destructive international wildlife trade. Born Free USA brings to America the message of "compassionate conservation": the vision of the U.K.-based Born Free Foundation, established in 1984 by Bill Travers and Virginia McKenna, stars of the iconic film Born Free, along with their son, Will Travers. Born Free's mission is to end suffering of wild animals in captivity, conserve threatened and endangered species, and encourage compassionate conservation globally. More at www.bornfreeusa.org, www.twitter.com/bornfreeusa, and www.facebook.com/bornfreeusa.
Jarod Miller is a young naturalist, zoologist, television host and producer, with 20 years of experience working with animals, and 15 years of experience in television. Miller has spoken at venues ranging from wildlife parks and universities, all the way to the White House. He is also the former executive director of the Binghamton Zoo, and was the youngest accredited zoo director in the United States at age 25.
Since he was 10, Miller has both propagated and worked to conserve endangered animal species. He has raised, studied and handled a tremendous variety of wildlife including large cats, bears, prosimians, large and small primates, birds of prey, crocodiles, venomous snakes and reptiles, and large hoofed animals, among many others. He is also experienced in the research and data collection of captive and wild specimens. As a teenager he also trained champion dogs for obedience competitions and national showmanship.
As a child Miller spent most of his time outdoors, always wanting to be closer to nature. Zoos were always his favorite destination, and he could identify every animal that lived at the zoo. In fact, when asked to write down his favorite animal for a second grade assignment, he came up with a three-page list of nearly 200 species.
Miller earned a degree in Zoology from Oswego State University in New York, and has published and presented research on primate behavior and ecology within the scientific community. He is a professional fellow of the American Zoo Association, an associate member of Sigma Xi Scientific Research Society, and a member of the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists.
In 1996, Miller started his own wildlife production and education company, Wild Encounters, and has since traveled to over 13 countries, focusing on areas in South America, Central America and Equatorial Africa.
In the past decade, Miller has made hundreds of appearances on national television, as a regular guest on such shows as, The Today Show, Good Morning America, The Early Show, The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, Late Night with Conan O’Brien, Jimmy Kimmel Live, The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson, Rachael Ray, Live with Regis and Kelly, Entertainment Tonight, Access Hollywood, among many others, and is a regular contributor for NBC News, CNN, and Fox News.