Zoos are a polarizing force in the conservation world. But love them or hate them, for now they are a reality. Living conditions for elephants are horrendous in some zoos around the world, but others are working hard to get it right, and at the same time supporting the conservation of wild elephants.
Oakland Zoo, one of our partners in California, is one of these. The Oakland Zoo elephants have room to move freely and socialize with other elephants, and they provide browse enrichment and positive reinforcement for both their physical health and mental stimuli. Oakland Zoo educates their guests about the threats to African elephants, and about Big Life’s success in the Amboseli ecosystem. In fact, their volunteers and guides have spent almost 60 hours in the last three months talking to visitors about elephant conservation, and the work that Big Life does.
They are also putting their money where their mouth is. Twenty-five cents from every guest admission goes towards conservation projects as part of their Quarters for Conservation project, and Big Life is very grateful to have been a beneficiary of this initiative.
We hope that in the future other zoos in America will follow this lead, maintaining both a high standard of care for their animals, and ensuring that these captive animals live for the benefit of their wild counterparts, and not just humans.