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POST TRAUMATIC STRESS DISORDER IN ELEPHANTS

August 4, 2008

Bravo to 20/20 for airing some very distressing video of elephant training and abuse, the horrors of elephant culls and poaching in Africa , the deprivation of space, social structure and freedom of choice which most captive elephants endure and the resultant rages triggered by these conditions, causing injury and death to those who handle them and the general public.

The segment, which aired Friday 7/25/08, made an important contribution to public education and perception of captive elephants, but one salient point, in our opinion, received minimal attention. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) was discussed and identified as a contributing factor to the elephant rampages in many of these disasters, and diagnosis and treatment were suggested as a solution to the problem. We believe all captive elephants suffer to some degree from PTSD, and lack of space, cruel training and husbandry often induce dangerous behavior; so a ban on future captures and importation of wild elephants for circuses, zoos and theme parks should be considered to prevent further suffering and death to humans and elephants.

To suggest the approximately six hundred elephants in captivity in the United States should all be sent to a sanctuary is disingenuous. Although conditions for elephants in traveling shows cannot be improved, and all circus elephants should be retired and relocated to spacious, safe havens; zoos have the capability to create their own sanctuaries for elephants. They should be required to provide the space, companions and husbandry necessary for the elephants in their care when climate and other factors are favorable.

PAWS
Performing Animal Welfare Society
PO Box 849, Galt, CA 95632

(209) 745-2606 office/shelter
(209) 745-1809 fax
info@pawsweb.org

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