Tembo's toenails are split. Sunda has sores on her feet that never go away and her joints ache. These elephants are weary to the bone as they uncontrollably and neurotically weave back and forth.
All day, people shuffle past. No one stops for long. Sunda and Tembo have seen a million faces.
Cameras flash and flash again. Few realize Sunda's and Tembo's plight – the pain and suffering they are forced to endure week after week, month after month, year after year.
This scenario repeats itself every day in dozens of zoos.
What outrages me most is that it is not ignorance that perpetuates this horrific cruelty, but the purposeful neglect and inaction by zoo administrators, veterinarians and politicians, who for the sake of the almighty dollar, force this lifetime of pain, suffering, and premature death on these gentle giants.
However, I am pleased to report that despite the intransigence and greed of the zoo industry, progress is being made since IDA kicked off our campaign on behalf of captive elephants.
Please click here to donate to IDA's campaign for captive elephants.
Five years ago headlines across the nation read:
Zoos Engaged in Nationwide Battle with Animal Rights Group over the Keeping of Pachyderms
Zoos Bowing to Pressure Regarding Conditions for Captive Elephants.
The organization they were referring to was IDA. Thanks to you and tens of thousands of other IDA members, 22 zoos have closed their elephant exhibits, announced their intention to do so, or transferred elephants to life-saving sanctuaries.
Our 2011-12 list of the Ten Worst Zoos for Elephants generated media coverage around the world, as IDA once again exposed the hidden suffering of elephants in zoos.
After nearly 40 frozen winters together, you would think 50-year-old Asian Sunda could find solace with African cage-mate Tembo. But that's not the case. In fact, the zoo's own records show that these mismatched elephants just don't get along. In zoos elephants never get to choose their companions. So they can be condemned to live with an elephant with whom they are utterly incompatible – for life. To add insult to injury, at the Topeka Zoo the elephants are confined as many as 18 hours daily in a space the size of a public bathroom stall to you or me, with ungiving concrete floors that wreak havoc on their feet.
Topeka, Kansas is a long way from home.
But there are rays of hope for Tembo and Sunda - hope that exists because I know you are committed to protecting and advocating for the rights, welfare and habitats of animals.
Elephants in zoos are BIG BUSINESS. The fates of Tembo and Sunda and more than two hundred of these majestic creatures hang in the balance right now.
Topeka Zoo officials are debating whether to close their outdated elephant exhibit and send the elephants to another zoo. Or they may choose to let Tembo and Sunda languish and suffer in Topeka until they prematurely die. But IDA wants Tembo and Sunda released to a dedicated elephant sanctuary in Tennessee with over 2,700 secure acres of dense forests, sub-tropical grasslands and clear water.
To save Tembo and Sunda, you don't have to be an activist. But will you take action?
A final decision on their future may soon be made. We MUST keep up the pressure! Now more than ever, the elephants need you.
Will you stand behind Tembo and Sunda and all the captive elephants today?
- Your urgent donation of $25 will be put to immediate use to help fund a strategically placed billboard in Topeka, exposing the plight of Tembo and Sunda.
- $50 would allow us to put up similar billboards in other cities; and to deliver IDA outreach materials for zoo and circus demos to activists to further educate and rally the public.
- Your gift of $100 will fund IDA's ongoing investigations for captive elephants, resulting in our landmark annual Ten Worst Zoos for Elephants report, exposing the deadly and torturous lives of captive elephants in our nation's zoos.
Please give today and together we will continue to turn up the heat on the worst zoos - to keep fighting until all captive elephants can live out their lives in a peaceful and protected environment.
After nearly four decades behind bars, Tembo and Sunda and so many others deserve no less.
For the elephants,
Elephant Campaign Director, In Defense of Animals
P.S. I'm sure you receive a lot of requests. But if you could only see the dead look in Tembo's eyes – or watch poor Sunda as she rocks back and forth neurotically – destroying her already injured feet, you would know in an instant that for them, this is a life and death struggle. So please help educate others, and send as large a tax-deductible donation as you possibly can. Together we have already accomplished so very much. Together we will see the day that elephants and other animals are no longer forced to endure lifetimes of pain and suffering at the hands of the zoo and circus industries.