LUCY THE ELEPHANT
LUCY - EDMONTON VALLEY ZOO, CANADA
Born in 1975, Lucy is an Asian elephant who has lived in the sub-artic conditions of Canada for over 40 years. She has never been with another Asian elephant and her only companion was taken away in 2006. Edmonton Valley Zoo's limited operating times means even the company of humans is few and far between.
She is 1000 lbs overweight and suffers from significant arthritis and foot disease. She has difficulty bearing weight on her back legs and, due to an inappropriate diet, suffers dental issues and painful colic issues which have caused her to collapse - seen lying down, slapping her stomach with her trunk. With no place to swim, no mud in which to wallow or trees to scratch against, Free The Wild aims to work with Edmonton Valley Zoo to find an amicable solution in securing her release. Despite being 45 years old, Lucy has another 15-20 years left of her life.
UPDATE: 4 MAR 2021
Recently, Free the Wild sent a letter from our co-founder Cher to Mayor Don Iveson and the Director or Edmonton Valley Zoo, Gary Dewar. We offered to send an independent elephant expert vet to examine Lucy and determine the genuine status of her health. After some subsequent correspondence between FTW’s co-founder Gina Nelthorpe-Cowne and the Zoo Director, we were notified that our expert vet’s credentials will be considered to jointly assess Lucy’s condition at her next evaluation.
In the meantime, we’ve had correspondence from the Jane Goodall Institute’s Canada Board Member and VET, Dr. Rick Quinn, about JGI’s findings with regard to Lucy’s health. We have been given permission by Dr. Quinn to publish the letter with their recent findings which are, in our opinion, scientific and fair. However, Free the Wild have notified the zoo that our offer of assistance to send and fund an independent, elephant expert veterinarian stands.
We will keep our supporters updated on progress.
UPDATE: 12 MAY 2021
LUCY, THE ELEPHANT AT EDMONTON ZOO – HER 44th YEAR IN CAPTIVITY
It’s been almost 5 months since Free The Wild offered Edmonton Zoo and the City Council of Edmonton, the service of an elephant expert veterinarian to do a fair and independent assessment of Lucy, the elephant. We have had ongoing correspondence with Mr. Gary Dewar (Director at Edmonton Zoo) along with the Mayor of Edmonton, Mr. Don Iveson and the Edmonton City Council, requesting permission and the right to send such experts to the zoo. Repeatedly, we have been advised by Mr. Dewar that Lucy’s annual assessment is not due. Yesterday, Mr. Dewar advised again that her assessment will only be scheduled for the autumn, once travel restrictions have been lifted.
We understand that May 18th marks Lucy’s 44th year in captivity at Edmonton Zoo and we have again, yesterday, repeated that our offer of an independent and free assessment of the elephant stands. We understand from Mr. Dewar that Free the Wild may or may not be granted permission though, as he said; “Free The Wild's generous offer to provide an independent expert is being considered for the review as are offers from specialized veterinarians from elephant sanctuaries.”
Previously, Mr. Dewar stated;
“Our team will review the vet’s [FTW’s Veterinarian] credentials to determine if he warrants consideration to be among the experts we will call upon to perform her [Lucy] next evaluation.”
Free the Wild is very keen to see that Lucy gets a fair and unbiased assessment by one of the world’s leading elephant expert veterinarians, not linked to the Zoo or any particular sanctuary, at which stage serious decisions can be made as to whether she will be fit for relocation to an appropriate sanctuary, where she can be cared for properly, live in healthier weather conditions and live out her life in comfort and peace.
Thank you for your support.
Team Free the Wild.
UPDATE: 11 AUGUST 2021
Free the Wild have offered The Edmonton Valley Zoo assistance, by way of providing and funding in full, a team of elephant expert veterinarians to assess Lucy the elephant to assess whether Lucy is fit enough to travel to a sanctuary. We have now had confirmation from Gary Dewar, Director of Edmonton Valley Zoo, that the zoo will not be requiring Free The Wild's assistance with Lucy's annual veterinary assessment.
This came as a shock to us as we have offered this service at no costs to the zoo nor to the city of Edmonton. With the team of vets we offered, our findings were guaranteed to be from an independent and unbiased viewpoint and would have served in the interest of Lucy and Lucy alone.
We have been in direct contact with Mr. Dewar and the other zoo officials as well as the Mayor of Edmonton, Don Iveson for over a year. Whilst it was always difficult to extract answers from Mr Dewar, he did confirm yesterday that our help is not needed and that they will select a veterinarian of their own choice to assess the elephant again this year.
Considering Mr. Dewar has refused our offer of free assistance and that the Zoo has continually found excuses for Lucy to remain in Canada's sub-zero conditions, it seems very likely that this will be the case again, with Lucy now destined to remain at the zoo.
We implore Lucy's advocates and anyone with any interest in Lucy's case - to express their concern to the zoo. This can be a case of posting on their social media feeds or writing to Mr. Dewar directly. Links to the zoo and contacts below;
Any funds that Free the Wild have raised specifically for Lucy will now be appointed towards some of our other important projects, including the relocation of seven lions and a tiger from two Ukrainian Zoos to South Africa, the release of the world's loneliest gorilla from Pata Zoo in Thailand, urgent support for a growing number of elephants in South-East Asia and the development of a new large mammal sanctuary in the same region.
If you've donated to us specifically to aid in Lucy's case and you'd prefer for us to refund your donation, please forward your donation receipt to us via email (to email@example.com) with ‘request refund for Lucy’ in the subject line. We will process the refund as soon as possible.
Regrettably, it seems that Lucy’s future is now out of our hands.
We thank you for your continued support and look forward to better news from our big cat, great ape and Asian elephant projects.
Team Free the Wild.
UPDATE: 06 SEPTEMBER 2021
A Happy Life or Purgatory for Lucy?
From ongoing communications between Free The Wild Co-founder, Gina Nelthorpe-Cowne and Roger Jevne (City of Edmonton’s Community & Recreation Facilities / Citizen Services), it is clear that the Edmonton Valley Zoo's intention is to continue with their own annual assessments of Lucy and to retire her at the zoo.
The City of Edmonton and the Zoo’s management’s communications with us remain guarded and non-transparent.
It appears that the Zoo will not be performing an unbiased medical assessment on Lucy. Edmonton City Zoo will continue to use vets who specialise in Zoo animals, as they’ve done in the past and who will, probably once again, assess Lucy as a geriatric elephant who is unable to be moved. Without an unbiased team of specialist elephant veterinarians investigating and diagnosing the elephant’s condition and state of health, we and the general public will never know if she really is unfit to travel. Only these zoo-biased vets and the Zoo management will know the real truth.
Free The Wild continue to request that an independent, specialist elephant veterinarian examines Lucy to see if her heart and lungs are functioning optimally, along with checking for any deviations in her blood.
To retire Lucy at Edmonton Zoo should only be considered as a last resort. Keeping her imprisoned for half of the year in freezing conditions is unnatural for an Asian elephant and quite possibly the reason she suffers breathing difficulties in the first place. She lives in a cold climate indoors most of her life with nowhere to roam, no distraction from monotony, no pool, no mud, no dustbath, no interaction with her own species and nothing remotely natural for her to enjoy.
The question remains - Why does Edmonton Valley Zoo, after four decades of total exploitation, choose to continue to torture Lucy? Who would want to see an elephant kept in these conditions? Why not allow her to have a decent assessment and, if she is fit to travel, allow her to retire to a sanctuary where she can live the remainder of her life in comfort with care?
The Zoo along with City of Edmonton’s management continues to deliver politically guarded answers, avoiding direct questions and hiding their methods of her assessment from the public - until after the assessment has been completed anyway. Lucy belongs to the people of Edmonton and they have the right to know.
Transcripts of the correspondence between Gina Nelthorpe-Cowne and Roger Jevne (Community & Recreation Facilities / Citizen Services - City of Edmonton) are available on request - please write to us via email, with the subject line "Transcripts for Lucy's Case", sent to firstname.lastname@example.org
Team Free The Wild.