Watchdog Group Outraged by Elephant Sale to San Antonio Zoo
Captive Wildlife Advocacy

Stop Animal Exploitation NOW!
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Watchdog Group Outraged by Elephant Sale to San Antonio Zoo

Thursday, April 22, 2010
Contact: (865) 286-9082 -- Don Elroy, Director of Captive Wildlife Advocacy, SAEN!

Watchdog Group Outraged by Elephant Sale to San Antonio Zoo; USDA allows illicit exhibitor to profit following Federal Violations

SAN ANTONIO, TX - SAEN (Stop Animal Exploitation Now!) is condemning the recent sale of Queenie/Boo to the San Antonio Zoo. The sale resulted from a consent agreement between the USDA and Wilbur Davenport (Maximus, Tons of Fun) which settled a case arising from major Animal Welfare Act Violations by Davenport.

Davenport, whose USDA license has been revoked, faced fines totaling $100,000.00 if Queenie was not relinquished. The sale of Queenie to the San Antonio Zoo reduced the fine to a paltry $15,000.00, while garnering $35,000 for Davenport – a net profit of $20,000.

USDA inspection reports for Davenport’s facility reveal that during the previous confiscation of two other elephants (Tina and Jewel); USDA officials were confronted with threats and vehicles blocking the confiscation. Tina and Jewel, who had lost hundreds of pounds of body weight in the care of Mr. Davenport, were used in shrine circuses.

The San Antonio Zoo has only a one half acre elephant exhibit for Lucky, the current Asian elephant who has been housed singly since 2007 when her companion Alport died. The exhibit lacks stimulation for Lucky who already demonstrates stereotypical behavior from captivity induced stress.

San Antonio Zoo Director McCusker, along with documentation from the Asian elephant studbook and the elephant RCP has previously stated that Asian elephants will not be a part of future plans for the Zoo. Mr. McCusker has been quoted in previous interviews as saying the zoo would obtain a companion for Lucky and that later both elephants would be sent out. Lucky and her companion (Asian elephants) would be replaced by African Elephants. A letter from Gay Bradshaw, internationally recognized behavioral expert supports the transfer of Lucky to sanctuary after viewing her repetitive behavioral patterns.

A previous offer to take Lucky made by the Elephant Sanctuary (TN) was refused. A previous offer from PAWS (Performing Animal Welfare Society) to take Queenie/Boo was also refused. Both of these facilities offer exemplary care for elephants, and had offered to take these elephants without cost to government agencies.

“Having lived in the San Antonio area, visited the zoo and Lucky many times, tracked Tina, Jewel and Queenie across the country, I can emphatically state that this is one of the worst scenarios that I have ever encountered in years of monitoring captive wildlife situations,” said Don Elroy, Director of Wildlife Advocacy for SAEN. “This placement shows a total disregard for the welfare of these animals and reveals underlying problems within AZA, USDA and individual entities. No animal should be considered a commodity to be transferred around without regard to their welfare.”

All documentation referred to in this release is available upon request.


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