ABQ BioPark responds to criticism from animal rights group

One of the highlights at the ABQ BioPark is the elephants. The recent death of two elephants 3-year-old Thorn and 8-year-old Jazmine has prompted the “In Defense of Animals” group to name the BioPark the second-worst zoo for elephants.Captive animals campaigner with the “In Defense of Animals,” Brittany Michelson said “Every baby elephant that has been born at that facility in the past decade has died. So that right there is a major concern.” The group says the elephant exhibit is too small, the current roaming area is five acres. Michelson said, “It’s a very small enclosure for what the elephants really truly need. Well obviously in the wild they are roaming over 100 miles a day which is not possible in a captive environment.” Bob Lee, the associate director at the BioPark, says the welfare of the animals is their priority. “As we learned more about what the elephants need, habitats have been expanded and the complexity of what we offer has expanded. And that’s what the team does every day,” Lee said. When we asked “In Defense of Animals” what the zoo could do to improve, Michelson said, “There’s really not much that the zoo can do there with what they have. They are very limited, they are not going to be able to provide acres and acres of space.” Lee says the virus that killed Thorn and Jazmine called “elephant endotheliotropic herpesvirus” is a known virus. “EEHV is a virus that strikes around the globe in zoos, in the wild. We know so much more about it because of the work that has been done here and we’re committed to continuing to do that,” Lee said.Lee says the herpes virus lives inside all elephants but mainly impacts young elephants. Getting criticism from animal rights groups is something they are familiar with. “This is a very common tactic of this group with this marketing campaign to use the tragedy to promote their ideals which is to shut down zoos and aquariums,” Lee said. Still, the group is calling on all zoos to release their elephants to accredited sanctuaries and close elephant exhibits.

One of the highlights at the ABQ BioPark is the elephants.

The recent death of two elephants 3-year-old Thorn and 8-year-old Jazmine has prompted the “In Defense of Animals” group to name the BioPark the second-worst zoo for elephants.

Captive animals campaigner with the “In Defense of Animals,” Brittany Michelson said “Every baby elephant that has been born at that facility in the past decade has died. So that right there is a major concern.”

The group says the elephant exhibit is too small, the current roaming area is five acres.

Michelson said, “It’s a very small enclosure for what the elephants really truly need. Well obviously in the wild they are roaming over 100 miles a day which is not possible in a captive environment.”

Bob Lee, the associate director at the BioPark, says the welfare of the animals is their priority.

“As we learned more about what the elephants need, habitats have been expanded and the complexity of what we offer has expanded. And that’s what the team does every day,” Lee said.

When we asked “In Defense of Animals” what the zoo could do to improve, Michelson said, “There’s really not much that the zoo can do there with what they have. They are very limited, they are not going to be able to provide acres and acres of space.”

Lee says the virus that killed Thorn and Jazmine called “elephant endotheliotropic herpesvirus” is a known virus.

He says illness is not linked directly to the BioPark.

“EEHV is a virus that strikes around the globe in zoos, in the wild. We know so much more about it because of the work that has been done here and we’re committed to continuing to do that,” Lee said.

Lee says the herpes virus lives inside all elephants but mainly impacts young elephants.

Getting criticism from animal rights groups is something they are familiar with.

“This is a very common tactic of this group with this marketing campaign to use the tragedy to promote their ideals which is to shut down zoos and aquariums,” Lee said.

Still, the group is calling on all zoos to release their elephants to accredited sanctuaries and close elephant exhibits.

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