These New England Elephants Have Been Together Longer Than Any Other Herd in the US
Was your first thought after reading this headline, “we have elephants in New England?”, because that was mine.
I knew there were a couple of elephants that used to live in Hope, Maine, but I couldn’t imagine or picture where there would be others.
The light bulb went off when I remembered there’s a zoo in Rhode Island.
Roger Williams Park Zoo Elephants
Roger Williams Park Zoo is home to three elephants who have been at the zoo together since 1991.
Here they are as little babies when they first got to the zoo, brought over to aid in research and conservation efforts.
Thirty two years later and these three girls are still hanging out in Rhode Island.
As the zoo's post shares, these three African elephants have been together longer than any other herd of elephants in the United States.
I’m sure a huge part of that is the fact that a lot of zoos don’t have elephant exhibits anymore, due to costs and other varying factors.
But, you can still see the three amigas at Roger Williams Park Zoo. Just look how stinkin’ cute they are:
Even though I love these girls and have a very special place in my heart for elephants, I’m not sure entirely how I feel about the concept of captivity.
They look happy, and I’m sure they are, but some things rub me the wrong way.
Elephants in Captivity
According to the Elephant Encyclopedia and Database, these elephants were brought to America together in 1988 from Zimbabwe but it doesn’t say why they were moved here.
I assumed they may have been injured or needed rehabilitation but that is quite a long move to receive care. After reading a little more about the three elephants at the zoo, I think it’s just to get more people to the park.
An article written by the Providence Journal talks about what a huge draw the elephants are to the park in Roger Williams, especially now that many zoos don’t have elephant exhibits anymore. I’ll touch back upon this point here in a second.
The article mentions how captivity is controversial, saying that animal-rights groups argue that large creatures that are used to roaming such vast land shouldn’t be kept in such small quarters, which I agree with, especially if the elephants are healthy.
But, the executive director says the problem is that the wild is not safe for them and that, “there is no wild anymore”. I think this is a pretty bold statement, especially since it’s said that elephant lifespans are shorter in captivity.
Within the same article, the director speaks indirectly about how profitable the elephants are since they are one of the few zoos with these types of exhibits and that if people in the northeast want to see some elephants, they only have one place to go.
I understand that there is a huge educational aspect and the elephants are there to educate the public on elephant conservation but I still feel bad for such large animals living in such a small, boring place.
I guess it’s cool that they’re there and I would love to see elephants up close any chance I got, but I think if an animal can be out in the wild, it should be.