City takes issue with erroneous allegations about care of Lucy the elephant
January 10, 2018

The City of Edmonton continues to provide Lucy, its resident Asian elephant, with the best care. We remain disappointed at the unfounded allegations that staff at the Edmonton Valley Zoo are doing anything other than looking out for the best interests of Lucy.

“We take great exception to the continued misinformation about the care Lucy receives in Edmonton,” said Edmonton Valley Zoo director Denise Prefontaine. 

In Defense of Animals, a California-based activist group, has given the Edmonton Valley Zoo a dishonourable mention on its list of zoos the group claims are the worst for elephants.

“Lucy has been cared for by responsible and dedicated zoo staff for more than 40 years,” said Prefontaine. “We are committed to providing Lucy with the best care she would receive anywhere.”

Lucy arrived at the Edmonton Valley Zoo in 1977 as a two-year-old orphan. Now 42, she is a content elephant with some manageable health issues. Most notably, she has a respiratory problem that makes it difficult for her to breathe when she is in a stressful situation. Several independent elephant veterinarians have agreed that moving Lucy would very likely kill her.

“We are in the business of caring for animals and putting their best interests ahead of all else,” Prefontaine said. “The decisions we’re making with regards to Lucy are based on scientific knowledge, expert advice, and the intimate knowledge the zoo staff has of her condition. To suggest we are doing anything other than acting in Lucy’s best interest is completely unacceptable.”

The Edmonton Valley Zoo is accredited by Canada’s Accredited Zoos and Aquariums (CAZA). CAZA has approved the variance for Lucy to stay in Edmonton after bringing in elephant expert Dr. John Cracknell to complete an independent third-party report in 2016. Dr. Cracknell noted in his final report that he was previously approached by the Ontario-based Zoocheck organization to perform an exam on Lucy.

Dr. Cracknell’s report, which is available online, addresses Lucy’s well-being, health issues, and recommendation for her care moving forward. He recommends that Lucy stay in Edmonton as it is the only facility he is aware of that will give her the care she needs.

“Lucy is active, intelligent and has a wide range of activities provided for her on a daily basis,” Prefontaine said. “I’m proud to say Lucy has an unparalleled enrichment and behavioural support system. Our dedicated team is committed to meeting Lucy’s needs, as well as the needs of all of the other animals in our care.”

For more information about Lucy’s health and the care she receives at the Edmonton Valley Zoo, please see here
Media contact:  
Communications Advisor
Edmonton Valley Zoo