Just two weeks after young polar bear Knut died suddenly at the Berlin Zoo, a baby Indian elephant named Shaina Pali unexpectedly died early this morning at the zoo. A necropsy of the 6-year-old elephant showed she most likely died of a herpes virus. Elephant endotheliotropic herpes virus (EEHV) is a deadly disease that is common in young captive elephants.
Scientific research strongly suggests that young elephants are susceptible to EEHV because of the stress of captivity, including lack of space and unnatural surroundings. The Washington Post explored the issue of how well zoos care for their animals and found that even zoos accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) have woefully inadequate standards. For example, AZA-accredited zoos only have to provide elephants with a 40-foot-by-45-foot outdoor enclosure, can chain them for up to 12 hours a day, and may use bullhooks to strike them.
Written by Michelle Sherrow