TINA & JEWEL AT SAN DIEGO ZOO
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On Saturday, August 22, 2009, PAWS' elephant trailer arrived at San Diego Zoo with Tina & Jewel, two circus elephants confiscated by the US Department of Agriculture in Texas.
The two elephants were a closely bonded pair that might have been separated permanently if PAWS' trailer, which can carry two elephants at a time, were not available.
PAWS was asked to provide the trailer knowing that the two elephants would go to a zoo, not a sanctuary. Tina & Jewel would be freed from chains, bullhooks and
a miserable existence travelling with a circus, so we did not hesitate to donate the trailer to free the two elephants. USDA-APHIS, our federal regulatory agency responded to the letters, petitions and pleas of animal advocates across the country to help the elephants. The choice of San Diego Zoo was the agencie's decision, and we were pleased that a facility that does not use bullhooks and chains in their management program was chosen.
In August, 1997, Ben Davenport, Will Davenport's brother, was discovered by police in Albuquerque, New Mexico with a dead elephant in an overheated trailer. PAWS' director,Pat Derby, flew to Albuquerque to petition city officials to confiscate the remaining two elephants. (To view video, click here).
Actress Kim Basinger, PAWS' spokesperson for Free the Elephants, made an impassioned plea to USDA at that time to revoke Davenport's permits and seize the animals who had survived the terrible ordeal, including two elephants, Donna & Irene.
(To view video, click here).
The Albuquerque Zoo agreed to take the animals and provide necessary veterinary care and housing for the circus victims. (to view video, click here). The project cost the zoo hundreds of thousands of dollars when Irene, the older Asian elephant, required expensive treatment for TB.
Over the past twenty-five years, we have assisted in the rescue of a gorilla from a tiny glass cubicle in a department store who was sent to Zoo Atlanta, tigers abandoned by a circus in California rescued and retired to Oakland Zoo and over eight hundred rescued animals adopted by Detroit Zoo. All zoos are not bad, and our sanctuary is far from being perfect. PAWS has always welcomed the support of zoos and caring keepers in alleviating the suffering of animals living chained in trucks and railroad cars.
Personnel from San Diego Zoo spent four days without sleep assisting in the rescue and safe transport of Tina & Jewel. They fed, watered and comforted the two animals non-stop until they arrived at the zoo. Their reports that the two were travelling well, eating and drinking voraciously, and were "two sweethearts" made me realize that caring about animals is not limited exclusively to animal rights activists.
When Tina & Jewel arrived at the zoo, their life changed from the horrible existence of standing on three feet of chain and waiting to be fed once a day, if they were lucky, to having food and water available all the time, freedom to move about and elephant companions with which to socialize. No chains, no bullhooks, no filthy, hot trucks and no tricks to perform. To Tina & Jewel, the zoo is their sanctuary.
Sadly, Queenie (Boo) could not be taken at the same time. Please contact USDA-APHIS for more information about the legal issues involved in this case. We have begun a new set of petitions and letters to help her.
Performing Animal Welfare Society (PAWS