For more than a decade, activists have been begging the Bronx Zoo in New York to release an isolated elephant named Happy that has been alone for 13 years.
She was brought over from Thailand with six other elephant calves in the 1970s and lived with her best friend, Grumpy, for 25 years. But after Grumpy passed away, the zoo didn’t do anything to alleviate her loneliness. Instead, they kept her separated from other elephants in a 1 acre enclosure.
Now, a journalist by the name of Yashar Ali is making a push for her to be freed.
1. Elephants are just like us. They celebrate births & mourn deaths. And they grow depressed when they’re isolated. They require a companion or herd in order to be happy
“There are two accredited sanctuaries in the US that are willing to accept Happy which would give her the opportunity to roam on a large plot of land and be surrounded by other elephants pals…but the @BronxZoo and it’s director @JimBreheny are unwilling to give her up,” he said on his account.
Elephants are naturally social creatures that live in herds; they’re raised by siblings, aunts, and cousins they live with for the entirety of their lives.
It’s cruel to isolate Happy in this way; when elephants are made to live alone, they become incredibly depressed.
Not only is she alone, but from November to April, Happy isn’t even allowed outside. Due to the cold New York winters, she is kept in a dark stable instead of roaming over 20 miles a day with a herd like she would in the wild.
If Happy’s name sounds familiar, it’s because she was the very first elephant to pass the “mirror self-recognition test,” which indicates she has a level of self-awareness that other animals do not.
Before Happy, only humans, dolphins, and gorillas had passed the test before. So not only is she isolated, but she has shown she is self-aware…making her isolation even more cruel.
The zoo claims that Happy is “quite content,” but the zoo has already been sued by multiple animal rights activists, attempting to set Happy free. Not only that, but more than 814,000 people have signed an online petition “to end her solitary confinement” on Change.org. For years, animal lovers have been attempting to free Happy.
According to the petition, “New standards regarding the keeping of elephants were recently passed by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), the accrediting organization for American wildlife institutions. Among their recommendations was that elephants be held in groups of three or more, as they are highly social creatures. Now, zoos around the country are scrambling to comply with the regulations by AZA’s 2016 deadline. Yet, the Bronx Zoo seems steadfast in its opinion that Happy is “happy” with her solitary life. This goes against all scientific data about elephant behavior.”
Hopefully, Yashar’s viral tweet will help influencers and law-makers understand the gravity of the situation. If you’d like to see Happy set free, sign the petition and make sure to share this story with others. She can’t be cruelly isolated for the rest of her life!