Thursday, May 16, 2024

Does The Bronx Zoo Have Elephants

Bronx Zooelephant In Legal Battle Treat This Animal As A Human And Free Her

NY high court rules Bronx zoo elephant is not a person

There’s an incredible case before the highest court in New York … a case in which an animal rights org has filed legal docs asking the judges to give an elephant at the Bronx Zoo the same rights as a person … to sue over illegal confinement in order to gain freedom.

The elephant in the room — or in this case the Zoo — is Happy, who was captured in Asia back in the ’70s when she was 1-year old.

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A group called the Nonhuman Rights Project has filed a writ of habeas corpus — a legal move to get the animal out of confinement — claiming Happy has effectively been imprisoned by the Zoo in a 1-acre facility. The group wants Happy removed from the facility and taken to a more spacious sanctuary.

The NRP claims Happy should be treated as a person in the legal system, arguing the animal is cognitively complex and autonomous … worthy of protections afforded humans.

The org claims Happy is the first elephant to pass a self-awareness test … she consistently touched a white “X” on her forehead as she looked in a mirror.

The New York Court of Appeals heard oral arguments yesterday, and the lawyer for the Zoo argued Happy is indeed happy, swimming, foraging and doing stuff elephants like to do.

Many Organizations Have Filed Cases Against The Bronx Zoo To Free Happy The Elephant:

While many U.S. laws treat animals as possessions, Nonhuman Rights Project v. James Breheny, et al. petitioned to move Happy from the zoo, trying her as a human being, per The New Yorker.

The case began in 2019, but the organization had filed many other cases on behalf of chimpanzees at other New York zoos. Defendant Kenneth Manning of the Wildlife Conservation, which runs the Bronx Zoo, used this as ammo, reiterating that animals don’t deserve rights like humans do, and that Happy was just fine.

Happy has been alone in her enclosure for 16 years, because of a spat that happened years ago despite the fact that elephants are very social animals. When it gets cold, they are moved to even smaller stalls. Needless to say, the 8,500 pound elephant deserves more.

In 2006, the Bronx Zoo announced it would no longer acquire elephants, and zoos have stopped allowing them. And while the Wildlife Conservation Society has reportedly done quite a bit in conservation, the Bronx Zoo’s insistence on keeping Happy is terrible.

The Bronx Zoo insists that she is content, that she is too old to move, and that they know her better than anyone else. The NhRP has offered to drop the case if the zoo sends Happy to an elephant sanctuary, but for years, the institution has continued to refuse.

Wcs’s Run For The Wild

In April 2008, the zoo hosted the first Run for the Wild event. The event is a 5k run long) organized by the Wildlife Conservation Society with the goal of raising money and awareness for their conservation programs of endangered species. Each year, there is a set entry fee for participants with varying prices depending on age child , adult, and senior . WCS Members get a discounted fee. Along with the entry fee, there is a $35 minimum donation per adult/senior participant. The event offers free prizes for donors, based on donation size, ranging from a Run for the Wild T-shirt to a special animal experience at the zoo. All donations are tax-deductible. All participants are also offered free all-day entry to the zoo and its paid exhibits/attractions. The yearly event takes place at the end of April and originally began at 8 am for those wishing to actually run, and 8:45 for those who wish to simply walk or jog the start times were changed to 7 am and 7:45 am in later years.

In 2011, another WCS institute, the New York Aquarium, held its own Run for the Wild event for sea turtles in early October. The 5k run began at the aquarium and led down the Riegelmann Boardwalk on Coney Island. The aquarium held a second run the following year for walruses. The event has not returned to the aquarium since.

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The Bronx Zoos Loneliest Elephant

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On a gray day in mid-June, at the edge of a leafy enclosure in the Bronx Zoos Wild Asia habitat, an elephant named Happy stood very still, gazing over the fence. There were a few logs scattered around, some grass and shrubs, and a concrete-lined pool. A green ball was marooned at the waters edge.

Visitors snapped photos from the monorail that circles the exhibit, while a guide cheerfully reported Happys age and her weight . A recorded voice noted the plight of elephants in the wild. Then the monorail swept past, and the visitors turned their attention to the rhinos in the next yard, unaware of an increasingly heated dispute over Happys fate.

For close to a decade Happy has lived alone, separated from the zoos two other elephants. Her solitary existence is quite unlike the life of a wild elephant. In nature, elephants live in closely bonded matriarchal families, which cooperate to raise their young. Females never leave the herd, forming lifelong attachments with siblings, cousins and aunts as well as with their mothers.

The feud over Happy is awkward for the Bronx Zoo and really for every zoo because it opens up a larger and more volatile debate: Is it right to keep intelligent and behaviorally complex animals like elephants in captivity?

Bronx Zoo Sued Over Elephant Treatment

Happy The Bronx Zoo Elephant Is

Animal protection organization In Defense of Animals has filed an Article 78 petition against the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs and the Wildlife Conservation Society to access medical records and other information pertaining to the Bronx Zoos captive elephants.

The Bronx Zoo is keeping two elephants separately in solitary confinement and refusing to provide information about what effect it is having on their health and wellbeing, says Matthew Hamity, Director of Campaigns and Legislative Affairs for In Defense of Animals. Information about Happy and Patty legally belongs in the public domain: the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs and the Wildlife Conservation Society have no grounds to hide anything from the public.

Animal Defense Partnership submitted a Freedom of Information Law request on behalf of In Defense of Animals in February 2019. It sought the medical records for Happy and Patty, who are held separately in solitary confinement at the Bronx Zoo, as well as Maxine, who died in late 2018. The FOIL also requested other records relating to the operation of the Bronx Zoo.

One of the elephants at the Bronx Zoo. Image credit Taiwai Yun, CC BY-SA 2.0. Happy the elephant, who has been held in solitary confinement at the Bronx Zoo since 2006. Image credit In Defense of Animals.

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An Animal Advocacy Group Had Called For Happys Release Through Habeas Corpus Arguing She Shares Cognitive Abilities With Humans And Is Being Illegally Detained

Happy, an Asian elephant, will continue to live in captivity at the Bronx Zoo, where she is one of the main attractions. An appeals court ruled on Tuesday against an animal rights group that sought the release of the elephant on the grounds that she is the equivalent of a person being illegally confined.

In a 5-2 decision, the state Court of Appeals in Albany ruled against the writ of habeas corpus filed by the advocacy group Nonhuman Rights Project, which claims that the 51-year-old elephant shares cognitive abilities with humans and is being illegally detained.

While no one disputes that elephants are intelligent beings deserving of proper care and compassion, wrote presiding judge Janet DiFiore in the majority opinion, habeas corpus is a procedural vehicle intended to secure the liberty rights of human beings who are unlawfully restrained, not nonhuman animals.

DiFiore also said releasing Happy would have a huge destabilizing impact on society and could spark a cascade of habeas corpus petitions to release animals, including many pets, farm animals and service animals like the horses that pull the carriages for tourists in Central Park, whose hypothetical prohibition has been passed on from one mayor to the next. This is a recurring controversy that is never resolved, due to the objections of the coachmen, whose livelihood would be endangered if animal traction was banned.

The Elephant In The Courtroom

Habeas corpus rights provide a way for people to challenge illegal confinement. Notably, other non-human entities like corporations have already been granted legal personhood by the courts, allowing them to do some things only a legal person can.

Attorneys from the Nonhuman Rights Project said that Happy lives in a “one-acre prison” and that the Bronx Zoo’s entire 265 acres are less than 1% of the space the elephant would typically cover in a day in the wild.

“She has an interest in exercising her choices and deciding who she wants to be with, and where to go, and what to do, and what to eat,” project attorney Monica Miller told the Associated Press in May. “The zoo is prohibiting her from making any of those choices herself.”

Meanwhile, zoo operators opposed moving, saying in a public statement in May that she is cared for and that the Nonhuman Rights Project “is using Happy the same way they have used animals in other cases in their effort to upend centuries of habeas corpus law and impose their own world view that animals should not be in zoos.”

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Activists Say An Elephant At The Bronx Zoo Is Self

  • The New York Court of Appeals ruled that Happy the elephant at the Bronx Zoo is not a legal person.

  • Attorneys said the zoo’s 265 acres are less than 1% of the space she would cover in a day in the wild.

  • “This was a very difficult legal case, for both the elephant and the humans involved,” an expert said.

Since 1977, Happy the elephant has lived in a one-acre exhibit at the Bronx Zoo. But a New York state court ruling has halted a year-long legal effort to address the elephant in the room whether Happy is, well, happy.

In a 5-2 decision, New York Court of Appeals rejected a lawsuit filed on behalf of the 51-year-old elephant from the Nonhuman Rights Project, an animal rights advocacy group, to get her re-homed to an elephant sanctuary.

Happy is “a nonhuman animal who is not a ‘person’ subjected to illegal detention,” the court’s ruling said.

“No one disputes that elephants are intelligent beings deserving of proper care and compassion,” the court wrote, but “nothing in our precedent or, in fact, that of any other state or federal court, provides support for the notion that the writ of habeas corpus is or should be applicable to nonhuman animals.”

The Bronx Zoo did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.

Happy The Bronx Zoo Elephant Is Not A ‘person’ Court Rules

After being denied personhood, Happy the elephant to stay at Bronx Zoo

ALBANY, N.Y. New Yorks top court on Tuesday rejected an effort to free Happy the elephant from the Bronx Zoo, ruling in a closely watched case that she does not meet the definition of a person who is being illegally confined.

The 5-2 decision by the state Court of Appeals affirms an earlier court decision and means Happy will not be released through a habeas corpus proceeding, which is a way for people to challenge illegal confinement.

The majority decision written by Chief Judge Janet DiFiore said that while no one disputes that elephants are intelligent beings deserving of proper care and compassion, a writ of habeas corpus is intended to protect the liberty of human beings and does not apply to a nonhuman animal like Happy.

The zoo and its supporters warned that a win for advocates at the Nonhuman Rights Project could open the door to more legal actions on behalf of animals, including pets and other species in zoos.

The courts majority echoed that point.

A determination that Happy, an elephant, may invoke habeas corpus to challenge her confinement at the Bronx Zoo a confinement both authorized and, by all indications, compliant with state and federal statutory law and regulations would have an enormous destabilizing impact on modern society, read the majority decision. It is not this Courts role to make such a determination.

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Free Exhibits And Attractions

  • World of Reptiles

As of 2010, the Bronx Zoo is home to more than 4,000 animals of 650 species, many of which are endangered or threatened. Some of its exhibits, such as World of Birds and World of Reptiles, are arranged by taxonomy, while others, such as African Plains and the Wild Asian Monorail, are arranged geographically.

Astor Court

Astor Court is an old section of the zoo that is home to many of the zoo’s original buildings, designed by Heins & LaFarge. While most of the buildings are closed to the public, the former Lion House was reopened as the “Madagascar!” exhibit in 2008, and the Zoo Center still exhibits various species. The highlight of the area is the historic sea lion pool featuring California sea lions. Small aviaries featuring small bird species can be found nearby and white-headed capuchins can be seen behind the old Monkey House.

The New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission designated Astor Court’s buildings as a city landmark in 2000, after a failed attempt to do so in 1966.

African Plains

Until 2009, the southwestern corner of African Plains was home to the endangered Arabian oryx and blesbok. Due to budget cuts and the unpopularity of the species with visitors, they were phased-out of the collection. This section of the exhibit remains empty. In 2017 they received two baby cheetahs from the San Diego Zoo. Cheetahs are now part of their animal encounter programs. They were replaced by the hyenas.

Baboon Reserve

Big Bears

Bronx Zoo Is Among Worst For Elephants Animal Protection Group Says

BRONX, N.Y. A New York City zoo is one of the worst in the nation for elephants, according to a scathing report released this week by the group In Defense of Animals.

Bronx Zoo landed at No. 5 on the lists 11th iteration. In Defense of Animals criticized the Bronx Zoo for keeping pachyderms in cramped conditions, cold weather and solitary habitats.

Conservation cannot be used as an excuse for cruelty, especially when we know that elephants bred in captivity will not be released to the wild, said Toni Frohoff, Ph.D., Elephant & Cetacean Scientist for IDA.

The tens of millions of dollars spent keeping elephants in zoos could be used more wisely and compassionately for real conservation.

The Bronx Zoo is home to three Asian elephants, which have been listed as an endangered species since 1976, according to the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.

One of those elephants is Happy, whose ability to recognize herself in the mirror helped prove that elephants are smarter than humans first thought.

Mirror self-recognition hints at the deeper, complex cognitive ability of self-awareness. Some animals will ignore their reflections while others think the reflection is another animal entirely.

But elephants have been shown to check out themselves in the mirror, like humans. They use their reflection to study parts of their bodies they cant usually see, like inside their mouths or under their feet.

Requirements for elephants outdoor enclosures are vague.

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Happy Now Bronx Zoo Elephant Deemed ‘not A Person’ By The State

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The nonhuman rights movement suffered a blow Tuesday after New York’s highest court ruled Happy the elephant is not a person.”

The 5-2 decision from the New York Court of Appeals determined Happy, a female elephant from Asia who lives alone in an enclosed acre of the Bronx Zoo, cannot be afforded the same legal and civil rights as a human being.

The Nonhuman Rights Project, the organization that brought the petition, sought to prove that Happy had been illegally detained by arguing the elephant is a self-aware, intelligent being deserving of the legal classification of personhood. The case has been making its way through the courts since its filing in 2018, where it has faced a series of rejections before being elevated to the appeals court.

The case sought to have Happy one of the Bronx Zoos last elephants transferred to an elephant sanctuary. The zoo has said that it would no longer bring elephants into its captive elephant program.

Happy has been living alone in her enclosure for more than a decade, following the deaths of two elephants over the years with whom she had been living. The first elephant, Grumpy, came to the Bronx Zoo with Happy in 1977. She was euthanized after two other elephants charged at her, leaving her seriously injured. Another companion of Happys, Sammy, died in 2006.


Exhibits Closed After The 1990s

Petition · Send Your Elephants to Sanctuaries! ·

World of Darkness

World of Darkness opened in 1969 and was the world’s first major exhibit designed specifically to introduce the public to nocturnal animals such as the Chinese leopard cat , bay duiker, Pallas’s long-tongued bat, spiny mouse, lesser mouse lemur, small spotted genet, lesser spear-nosed bats, spotted skunk, fat-tailed lemursJamaican fruit bat, Mohol bushbaby, cloud rat, Hoffman’s two-toed sloth, rock cavy, pygmy slow loris, short-tailed bats, striped skunk, grey-legged night monkey, sand cat, Rodriguez flying fox, brush-tailed porcupine, broad-snouted caiman, sand boa and . Built by Morris Ketchum Jr. & Associates, the house was built where the zoo’s Rocking Stone Restaurant stood until 1942. The exhibit used red-lights to dimly illuminate the enclosures within the windowless building. Like all nocturnal exhibits, the house ran on a reversed lighting schedule, which simulated night and day at opposite times to allow visitors to view nocturnal animals in a more naturalistic setting. Due to budget cuts and the high cost of running the exhibit, it was closed in 2009.

Rare Animal Range


Monkey House

Some of the primates that were in the now-closed exhibit have been moved to other parts of the zoo, such as the cotton-top tamarins now being found in World of Birds others were sent to other New York City zoos, such as the sakis being moved to the Central Park Zoo. White-headed capuchins can still be seen in an outdoor cage behind the building.

4-D Theater

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