Weaning zoos from elephants

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, May 2005:

BANGALORE, NAIROBI, SALT LAKE CITY, CHICAGO, DETROIT,
SAN FRANCISCO– “In a jumbo victory for Bangalore animal activists,
Lord Ganesha has showered his benediction on Veda, a 6-year-old baby
elephant at the Bannerghatta Biological Park in Karnataka, India.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has decided that Veda will not be sent
as a diplomatic gift to the Yerevan Zoo in Armenia,” announced
Compassion Unlimited Plus Action founder Suparna Ganguly on April 29.
“Karnataka State got their official letter today from the
prime minister’s office that the decision to send the baby elephant
has been cancelled,” Ganguly elaborated to ANIMAL PEOPLE. “We had a
Thanksgiving with the elephants at Bannerghatta.”
Confirmed Govind D. Belgaumkar of The Hindu,
“Bangaloreans–schoolchildren and parents, as well as other animal
lovers–on Friday celebrated the government decision to leave Veda
with her mother Vanita, grandmother Suvarna, brother Gokula, and
little sister Gowri. People distributed sweets, touched Veda, and
prayed for her long life.”
That was one week after the Nairobi newspaper The Nation
hinted that Youth for Conservation might have won a parallel struggle
to block the export of as many as 318 elephants, hippos, lions,
zebras, giraffes, gazelles, and members of about 20 other species
from Kenya to Thailand.

On March 12 and April 5, respectively, the last elephants
left the San Francisco Zoo and the Detroit Zoo, en route to
retirement at the Ark 2000 refuge operated by the Performing Animal
Welfare Society sanctuary near San Andreas, California, following
nine months of negotiation among the zoos, the city governments,
the sanctuary, and the American Zoo Association.
The public loves elephants as much as ever, but knowing more
about elephants than ever before, elephant enthusiasts are
increasingly skeptical that elephants can enjoy the quality of life
they deserve within the limited space that zoos afford.
There is growing concern among zoo managers that as elephants
go, so go the crowds, the multi-million-dollar projects, and the
prestige that zoos now enjoy within the global conservation
community. Zoos without elephants, some feel, might just as well
be sanctuaries, still with an educational mission, but quiet homes
for animals whom few people think about, rather than institutions
which often win priority support over schools and libraries in
municipal budgeting.
Of the 214 AZA zoos, only 78 have elephants. They attract
about two-thirds of the cumulative annual zoo audience of about 140
million visitors.
“Elephants are probably the most enigmatic and charismatic animals we
have,” Brookfield Zoo director Stuart Strahl recently told William
Mullen and Jon Yates of the Chicago Tribune. “People are drawn to
them because of their size. They are an animal everybody can relate
to.”
Thus at least 40 AZA members are either rebuilding or adding
elephant facilities. In Ohio alone, according to John C. Kuehner
and Suzanne Hively of the Cleveland Plain Dealer, the Cleveland
Metroparks Zoo is planning an $18 million elephant habitat, the
Toledo Zoo is spending $13 million to expand its elephant-holding
capacity from two to six, the Cincinnati Zoo spent $6 million on a
new elephant exhibit opened in 2001, and hopes to expand it, and
the Columbus Zoo opened a $5 million elephant exhibit in 1996.
The Alaska Zoo has only one elephant, named Maggie, who
arrived in 1983 as a traumatized survivor from a lethal cull at
Kruger National Park in South Africa. Her companion, Annabelle,
died in 1997. Maggie is among the youngest wild-caught females in
the U.S., and is considered prime for breeding, but Alaska Zoo
director Tex Edwards has adamantly resisted pressure from the AZA and
activist groups to send her south. The zoo was built around Maggie
and Annabelle. Without an elephant, it might not survive for
long–so it is spending $500,000 to add a treadmill and other
improvements meant to keep Maggie fit and mentally occupied, despite
the absence of companions.

Following the mammoths

Increasing public skepticism of zoo elephant keeping is
whetted by frequent deaths among the aging zoo elephant population.
The trend is apparent around the world. The generation of zoo
elephants imported before the Convention on International Trade in
Endangered Species took effect in 1972 is rapidly thinning, and
there are few replacements on the global market.
Eleven African elephants imported from Swaziland in August
2003 were the first wild-caught elephants to reach the U.S. from
abroad in 30 years. The San Diego Zoo received seven of the
Swaziland elephants. The Lowry Park Zoo in Tampa received the other
four.
Threatening to cull more than 1,000 elephants per year,
beginning in October 2005 and continuing until the Kruger National
Park population is cut from circa 13,000 to less than half as many,
the South African government would like to export as many elephants
as zoos are willing to take. But most zoos are reluctant to engage
in the bruising public relations battle with anti-captivity activists
that typically accompanies applications for CITES import permits.
The least confrontational way for a zoo to get elephants is
to breed them. Yet, of about 150 Asian and 150 African elephants
still alive at AZA member zoos, fewer than 100 are believed to have
reproductive potential.
“If we don’t do better, in 30 years there won’t be elephants
for exhibits,” warned Reid Park Zoo administrator Susan Basford on
March 1.
Basford told Joe Burchell of the Arizona Daily Star that if the city
of Tucson does not fund an $8 million expansion of the present
half-acre elephant facility to three acres, two of the three Reid
Park elephants may need to be relocated in order to have room to
breed.
Only 30 African elephants have been born in the U.S. since
the first one, in 1950. Asian elephants did not reproduce in the
U.S. until 1962, when Packy, 43, was born at the Oregon Zoo in
Portland. Eighty-seven Asian elephants have been born at U.S. zoos
since then, including 27 at the Oregon Zoo. Many other zoos have
had elephant births, but only 17 African elephant calves and 51
Asian elephant calves have survived their first year.
In one frustrating recent case, Bella, an eight-month-old
African elephant calf, was bottle-fed at the Houston Zoo after her
mother refused to nurse her. Bella seemed to be past the most
precarious part of her infancy, but on April 12, 2005 suffered a
severe femur fracture in a fall. She was euthanized when three days
of orthopedic treatment failed.
“It just wasn’t going to work,” Houston Zoo director Rick
Barongi told Salatheia Bryant of the Houston Chronicle. “It wasn’t an
easy break to fix. Everybody agreed that it was asking too much of
this calf.”
Bella’s mother, Shanti, is again pregnant.
Barongi previously assembled the elephant collection at Walt
Disney World’s Wild Animal Kingdom. Two of the Disney elephants gave
birth successfully, in May 2003 and July 2004, but on April 24 an
unborn calf died there when the mother, Ibala, 26, did not sustain
labor. An induced labor failed to produce a birth.
“Zoos think it’s their God-given right to have an elephant,”
zoo elephant management consultant Alan Roocroft recently told Chris
Metinko of the Contra Costa Times, “but elephants are not doing well
in captivity. There are so many ailments they can get, and their
surroundings are different. They walk less. They are overweight.
They get foot problems. It’s not unusual,” Roocroft pointed out,
“for an elephant to die in captivity, and, even after an autopsy,
we don’t know why.”
Such criticisms come often from animal rights activists and
other critics of zoos, but Roocroft is the retired longtime senior
elephant keeper at the San Diego Zoo & Wild Animal Park, and is
among the most frequent targets in zoo management of activist attacks.

Letting elephants go

Under intensifying activist pressure, some zoos are
rethinking the wisdom of keeping elephants, for possibly the first
time since elephant exhibitions began, and the success of early
exhibitors inspired emulation.
The San Francisco Zoo and Detroit Zoo opted out of elephant
keeping more than five years after the Mesker Park Zoo & Botanic
Garden in Evansville, Indiana sent Bunny, the last elephant it had,
to the Elephant Sanctuary in Hohenwald, Tennesee. But the Mesker
Park Zoo, the first to voluntarily give up keeping elephants for
stated humane reasons, had already lost AZA accreditation for
selling macaques in violation of the AZA animal relinquishment policy.
The San Francisco and Detroit Zoos are members in good
standing–although the AZA initially threatened both with loss of
accreditation for allowing the elephants to leave the accredited zoo
community. The Detroit Zoo elephants were eventually waived outside
the zoo system after the AZA officially learned that they had been
exposed at one time to a potentially fatal transmissible disease.
The San Francisco Zoo is to undergo a status review in 2006.
The San Francisco Zoo actually divested of elephants in two
stages. Thai-born Tinkerbelle was trucked to San Andreas on November
28, 2004. Lulu, an African elephant, followed four months later.
Celebration of her arrival at San Andreas was dampened when
Tinkerbelle, long suffering from chronic degenerative foot ailments,
took a turn for the worse. On March 24 she collapsed and was
euthanized.
“It’s a downhill slope once the foot is rotting away,” In
Defense of Animals president Elliot Katz told Patricia Yollin of the
San Francisco Chronicle. “Elephants’ feet were never made to stand
on unyielding surfaces like concrete. It takes time, but it’s
definitely a death sentence,” Katz said.
San Francisco Zoo director of animal care and conservation
Bob Jenkins agreed. “The condition she was suffering from probably
started 38 years ago, when it was standard to keep elephants on
concrete,” Jenkins told Yollin. “Those decisions were made by my
forebears.”
The San Francisco Zoo, located at the present site since
1922, had exhibited elephants since 1925, in rivalry with the
Oakland Zoo, which was founded in 1922.
Oakland Zoo founding curator Henry Snow reputedly showed off
baby elephants by hauling them to public events in his open-topped
town car. The Oakland Zoo developed a nationally publicized bad
reputation after a succession of young African elephants died there,
continuing to have incidents long after Snow’s time.
In the 1980s, current Oakland Zoo general curator Colleen
Kinzley lost part of one hand to an accident involving a rampaging
elephant, and another keeper was killed by a bull elephant in musth.
In June 1991 the Oakland Zoo became the first in the U.S. to
shift to the “protected contact” method of elephant handling, in
which direct contact between elephants and keepers is minimized.
Protected contact rapidly swept the zoo world, becoming the industry
standard approach to elephant handling by the late 1990s.
The AZA now requires all trainers at elephant-keeping
accredited zoos to minimize contact with elephants by using a
restraint device when doing potentially dangerous care.
The Oakland Zoo elephant facilities are praised–if elephants
are to be kept by zoos at all–by Katz of IDA, PAWS Ark 2000 founder
Pat Derby, Elephant Sanctuary at Hohenwald founder Carol Buckley,
and other opponents of elephant exhibition.

Last episode of Lota saga

At the PAWS Ark 2000 sanctuary, the former Detroit Zoo
elephants are reportedly mixing well with the Asian elephants who
were already there. A live web camera is soon to go online to make
their activities visible.
Winky, 52, is more-or-less back home, having lived at the
Sacramento Zoo about 70 miles away until the Detroit Zoo acquired her
in 1991.
“Wanda, 48, had a rougher life,” wrote Detroit Free Press
reporter Hugh McDiarmid Jr., “working for the Disney company on the
Mickey Mouse Show, and moving to private collections after that.
She was given to the San Antonio Zoo, where she was once pushed into
a moat and injured during a fight with another elephant. Then she
went to the Fort Worth Zoo and in 1994, to Detroit. During much of
her life she was chained and unable to move freely,” according to
Detroit Zoo director of conservation and animal welfare Scott Carter.
The Elephant Sanctuary would have been 600 miles closer than
PAWS Ark 2000, but Detroit Zoo director Ron Kagen opted to send
Winky and Wanda to Ark 2000, he said, because the PAWS facilities
are close to the veterinary school at the University of California at
Davis.
The Elephant Sanctuary was the retirement home of Lota, 51,
who died of tuberculosis on February 9, 2005.
“Lota was the single most important individual in raising
awareness of captive elephants, but she gave her life to do it,”
Elephant Sanctuary founder Carol Buckley told Jackie Loohauis of the
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
A longtime resident of the Milwaukee County Zoo, Lota was in
1990 transferred to the Hawthorn Corporation, begun by
then-traveling circus operator John Cuneo in 1957. By 1990 Cuneo had
long since discovered more profit in leasing animals to other
circuses and boarding exotic animals.
A television camera caught Lota collapsing as she was loaded
into a Hawthorn trailer to leave the zoo. Removing Lota from
Hawthorn became an activist cause celebre. The Milwaukee County Zoo
eventually tried unsuccessfully to retrieve her. Cuneo declined an
offer of $230,000 for Lota from actor Kevin Nealon, who wanted to
send her to the Elephant Sanctuary, but in November 2004 finally let
her go, under pressure of an agreement with the USDA to divest of
his elephants in settlement of penalties for multiple Animal Welfare
Act violations.
Lota’s death was relatively little noticed amid the furor
erupting in Chicago after Peaches, 55, the oldest African elephant
in North America, collapsed at the Lincoln Park Zoo early on January
17. She was euthanized that evening. at the San Diego Wild Animal
Park in April 2003, against considerable opposition from activists
who contended that they would have difficulty withstanding the cold
Chicago climate–even though the Lincoln Park Zoo had built a $23
million habitat in which to keep the elephants.
“They’re saying Peaches died of old age, but she died of the
stress of living in Chicago,” former San Diego Wild Animal Park
elephant keeper Ray Ryan told Tara Burghart of Associated Press.
Tatima died in October 2004 from Mycobacterium szulgai, a
rare bacterial infection similar to tuberculosis. PETA and In
Defense of Animals then asked the Lincoln Park Zoo to send Peaches
and Wankie to The Elephant Sanctuary.
Following Peaches’ death, the request was renewed on behalf
of Wankie, who was unable to bear young and was therefore not part
of the AZA African elephant Species Survival Plan.
Instead, Wankie was sent by truck on April 28 to join
African elephants named Hy Dari and Christy at a newly opened $5.5
million elephant facility at the Hogle Zoo in Salt Lake City, the
centerpiece of a $10.2 million Hogle Zoo remake. Although the move
was announced ahead of time, the exact date and
Peaches and two other female African elephants, Tatima, 35,
and Wankie, 36, were transferred from much larger quarters time of
departure were kept secret to avoid demonstrations by PETA in Chicago
and the Utah Animal Rights Coalition in Salt Lake City.
On April 30, Wankie collapsed as the truck rolled through
Nebraska. She received emergency treatment, then was hauled on to
the Hogle Zoo. She was pronounced irrecoverable and euthanized at
3:30 a.m. on May 1. A post-mortem did not immediately establish the
exact cause of death, which was believed to be related to chronic
leg or foot ailments.
The USDA announced that it would investigate. Chicago
alderman George Cardenas introduced a resolution to keep the Lincoln
Park Zoo from acquiring more elephants.
Lincoln Park Zoo director Kevin Bell said that the elephant
habitat would be converted to house Bactrian camels, pending
completion of a longterm study of the feasibility of keeping
elephants healthy in a northern climate.
“For the foreseeable future,” Bell told Patricia Ward
Biederman of the Los Angeles Times, “we are not going to bring
elephants back.”
“I question whether elephants can be kept in any northern
zoos,” Amboseli Trust for Elephants founder Cynthia Moss told Jeremy
Manier and William Mullen of the Chicago Tribune. Moss, who has
studied elephants in Kenya for more than 30 years, opined that no
more than a dozen zoos in the U.S. should keep elephants.

Three deaths helped Veda

Though Peaches, Tatima, and Wankie were African elephants,
their fate was noted in India as debate over the intended exile of
Veda to Armenia intensified. The perception that a cold climate
killed them may have saved Veda.
Veda was to have joined a nine-year-old male elephant named
Grandik at the Yerevan Zoo in December 2004, in consummation of an
“arranged marriage” brokered in 1999 by then-Indian prime minister
Atal Bihari Vajpayee.
Veda was a last-minute substitution for the original “bride,”
Komala, age 8, of the Mysore Zoo. Komala was to have departed for
Armenia on October 14, 2004, but instead died abruptly from
symptoms resembling the August 2004 zinc phosphide poisonings of two
other elephants, Ganesha and Roopa, and a lion-tailed macaque.
All three elephants and the macaque were believed to have been given
rat poison by disgruntled zoo staff.
The “arranged marriage,” involving either Komala or Veda,
was opposed from the first by People for Animals founder Maneka
Gandhi, who was minister of state for animal welfare at the time
Komala was promised.
“The Yerevan Zoo has no elephants because each time they get
them, the elephants die,” Mrs. Gandhi told Prime Minister Singh.
“One elephant was shot dead when he escaped in the early 1970s. One
elephant, suffering from malnutrition and hypothermia, slipped on
ice and died in the early 1990s. The Yerevan Zoo has no affiliations
with any zoo associations or federations and is therefore not
required to follow any rules or regulations,” Mrs. Gandhi asserted.
India proved to be much more accepting of arranged marriages
for humans than for elephants.
“India sends gift elephant to die in Armenian winter,”
headlined Kounteya Sinha in The Asian Age, of Delhi.
“This young elephant is being sent to a certain death,”
affirmed Ambika Shukla of People for Animals. “The Yerevan Zoo lacks
proper housing, grazing, and the space needed to support an
elephant. Worst is its climatic unsuitability. During the cold
months the elephants are caged in heated sheds with no opportunity to
walk or exercise.”
Responded Yerevan zoo director Sahak Abovyan “There are
50,000 elephants in India but the protesters do not want to give us
just one. They are very odd people.”
That won Abovyan few friends in India when amplified by Habib
Beary of BBC News in Bangalore.
“The central government [in Delhi] has taken a decision. We
are only following orders,” Karnataka state Principal Conservator of
Wildlife Ram Mohan Ray told Beary.
The Karnataka High Court ruled on March 4 against a CUPA
claim that sending Veda to Armenia would violate the 1972 Wildlife
Act.
Despite winning in the court of law, the Indian External
Affairs Ministry lost in the court of public opinion.
Ganguly celebrated only briefly before beginning to
strategize on behalf of Grandik.
Also originally from India, Grandik “was gifted to Moscow
years ago,” wrote Belgaumkar. In 1999, shortly before the deal to
acquire Veda was made, “The authorities in Moscow transferred him to
Armenia.”
“He is all alone there. Maybe he should be brought back to
India,” said Ganguly.
Ganguly credited ANIMAL PEOPLE with introducing her to
Armenian activists who helped to win cancellation of the transfer of
the elephant by documenting the conditions at the Yerevan Zoo and
demonstrating that Armenian public opinion did not favor acquiring an
elephant who would suffer.
Armenian President Robert Kocharian reportedly requested a
female elephant as a companion for Grandik by presenting to Vajpayee
several drawings by Armenian children depicting Grandik with a “wife.”
Enlisting the help of children has been a classic elephant
acquisition ploy since 1955, when children donated pennies to help
the San Francisco Zoo to buy an African elephant after the previous
resident elephant died. Penny, as the acquisition was named, lived
at the zoo for 40 years.
But children from both India and Armenia, as well as
throughout Europe and the U.S., signed electronic petitions against
moving Veda.
Thai deals still pending
The proposed Thai acquisition of animals including elephants
from Kenya and a similar deal that would send Thai elephants to
Australia and New Zealand are still pending.
Elephants have reportedly never bred successfully in either
Australia or New Zealand, but the Taronga Zoo in Sydney and
Melbourne Zoo in Australia and the Auckland Zoo in New Zealand in
1998 formed an elephant breeding consortium with the Monarto Open
Range Zoo and the Sunshine Coast Australia Zoo. The latter is
operated by Crocodile Hunter TV series star Steve Irwin.
The consortium goal is to produce a self-sustaining
Australia/New Zealand zoo population of about 40 elephants. After
plans to acquire elephants from Indonesia fell through in 2002, the
Taronga Zoo spent $40 million (Australian) and the Melbourne Zoo
spent $14 million (Australian) in preparation to receive nine young
Asian elephants from the Chiang Mai Night Safari Zoo in Thailand in
trade for two koalas.
“The project has become increasingly troubled since elephants
were selected from Thai tourist camps a year ago,” reported Andrew
Darby of the Melbourne Age on March 25, 2005. “The two proven
breeders were lost to the group. One died of snakebite. Another was
rejected after she was found to be age 40, not 20, according to
Environment Department letters” obtained through document requests
filed by the Royal SPCA of Australia, Humane Society International,
and International Fund for Animal Welfare.
“The zoos refused to provide details of their application or
say where the nine elephants eventually chosen were being held,”
continued Darby.
“According to non-government sources, they went into
pre-export quarantine in October 2004 at a rural campus of Thailand’s
Mahidol University. Scheduled to stay there for 90 days before a
further three-month quarantine on the Cocos Islands, the eight
females and one male have been confined in Thailand ever since.”
A hint as to how the elephants might have been kept occupied
came in February 2005, when The Nation reported that the Chiang Mai
Night Safari staff had trained an elephant to use a flush toilet.
“All seven elephants at the Palaad Tawanron camp,” near the zoo,
“are being potty-trained,” wrote Atcha Piyatanang of The Nation.
“After a mere couple of days’ worth of training, Diew and one of his
mates can already do their business in a civilised manner.”
But this may not have been the same group of off-exhibit
Chiang Mai Night Safari elephants.
Thai opposition
While seeking to import African elephants from Kenya,
Thailand has long been the leading exporter of Asian
elephants–chiefly to zoos, although five Thai work elephants and
their mahouts were sent to Indonesia in 1997 under a 10-year contract
to help round up wild elephants displaced by illegal logging and
forest fires.
An international incident ensued when the mahouts returned to
Thailand in June 1998, complaining that they had not been paid. The
elephants were finally repatriated, with great public fanfare, on
December 31, 1999.
Elephant exports have been a politically sensitive subject in
Thailand ever since.
The controversy grew hotter in 2004 when China offered to buy
200 elephants. Of the first eight elephants sent to China, two died.
Opposition to the Chiang Mai deal with the Australia/ New
Zealand elephant-breeding consortium is as intense within Thailand as
within the would-be recipient nations. There are about 2,000
domesticated elephants in Thailand, and 2,600 in the wild–enough to
be often perceived as a nuisance, but barely half as many as a human
generation ago.
“Exchanging rare animals for commercial purposes is no longer
acceptable. Many of our wild animals were maltreated and have died in
such animal exchange projects,” Wildlife Foundation of Thailand
secretary-general Surapol Duangkhae told Kultida Samabuddhi of The
Bangkok Post.
“Even a light trade in elephants is not acceptable,” echoed
Friends of the Asian Elephant founder Soraida Salwala, to Sydney
Morning Herald Bangkok correspondent Walaiporn Mekkreangkrai. “It
encourages the trade. They [zoo animal dealers] go into Laos and
Myanmar to get more babies,” Soraida alleged.
By law, Thailand dealers are only allowed to sell
domesticated elephants. In 1993, Soraida said, the going price for
a domesticated baby elephant was about $2,000. Now it is about
$17,000, a significant temptation to people in a position to take
short-cuts.
Thai interim natural resources and environment minister Suvit
Khunkitti responded to scrutiny of the Chiang Mai deal by reportedly
trying to expedite it.
“He also ordered officials to complete the koala shelter at
the Night Safari zoo by April, as instructed by prime minister
Thaksin Shinawatra,” wrote Kultida Samabuddhi.
The elephants to be exported were already waiting in a
pre-quarantine facility, but Australian environment minister Ian
Campbell balked at issuing import permits.
As of early May, both the elephants-for-koalas swap with the
Australia/New Zealand consortium and the 300-animal deal with Kenya
were still pending–and Thai officials seemed to be trying to slow
down the Kenyan transaction.
“This issue cannot be hurried up,” Thai senator Mme Pensak
told The Nation, on a visit to Kenya. “We have no memorandum of
understanding on this at all,” Pensak said.
Whatever deal might eventually be worked out will exclude
elephants, reported Ecoterra International, a 10-nation activist
collaboration.
“No mahouts (elephant trainers) will be sent to Kenya and the
whole plan of training Kenyan elephants is off,” Ecoterra claimed.
Suvit Khunkitti, who will be “left holding the bag” if
either international elephant deal fails, inherited responsibility
for completing the deals from his immediate predecessor, Plodprasop
Suraswadi, who is still reputedly a power behind the scenes.
Plodprasop Suraswadi lost the Thai wildlife ministry after a
Thai senate panel in late 2004 found reason to believe that he
illegally issued permits allowing the Sri Racha Tiger Zoo to sell 100
tigers to China. The panel concluded that the tiger sale was a
commercial transaction, not a legitimate attempt to conserve the
species.
Big money is also involved in the Chiang Mai Night Safari
Park attempt to buy elephants and other animals from Kenya. The park
management offered Kenya $1 million for the animals, Agence
France-Presse reported.
“The ‘donation’ was requested by acting tourism minister
Raphael Tuju during President Mwai Kibaki’s visit to Thailand last
October,” added Mugo Njeru of The Nation.
The role of elephants in establishing the status of national
leaders was already centuries old in India, Sri Lanka, Thailand,
and China circa 2,500 years ago, when an elephant became the totem
of Buddha. The idea might have spread west with the Carthaginian
general Hannibal, but apparently caught on only after the Crusades
opened trade routes to India, enabling Indian animal trainers to
venture into Europe.
In 1245 the emperor Frederick II traveled with an elephant
while struggling to keep Germany, Austria, and Italy united as the
Holy Roman Empire.
Ten years later, in 1255, Henry III of England brought an
elephant across the English Channel to assist in trying to unite the
eventual United Kingdom.
Frederick II learned, as Hannibal had 1,400 years earlier,
that elephants do not thrive on the cold side of the Alps. Henry III
found that giving his elephant wine to ward off the winter chill
caused the elephant to die from hypothermia.
Zoos are still assimilating these lessons.

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