The Bronx Zoo Has Been Holding Happy The Elephant Captive For 13 Years

Happy the elephant has lived in captivity almost her entire life.

According to the Associated Press, Happy was captured when she was just 5 years old, and has spent the last 45 as a resident of the Bronx zoo.

Happy has been the sole inhabitant of her “1-acre prison” for the last 13 years in the zoo, a facility that was named America’s fifth worst zoo for elephants in 2021, In Defense of Animals reports.

Happy the elephant, now nearly 50, was captured in the wild when she was just 5 years old.
Happy the elephant, now nearly 50, was captured in the wild when she was just 5 years old.

According to standards set by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, each zoo with elephants must have a minimum of three females (or the space to have three females), two males, or three elephants of mixed gender. Bronx Zoo fails to meet these bare-minimum requirements for elephant wellbeing.

Happy has spent at least 45 years of her life at the Bronx Zoo.
Happy has spent at least 45 years of her life at the Bronx Zoo.

Like many elephants, Happy is an intelligent and understanding animal. In 2005, she passed a mirror test, showing self-awareness by recognizing her own reflection, the Washington Post reports.

In the last two decades scientists have found that elephants are even smarter than we previously thought. According to Scientific American studies have shown that elephants are adept tool users and cooperative problem solvers; they are highly empathic, comforting one another when upset; and likely have a sense of self.

The Association of Zoos and Aquariums requires each zoo with elephants to have a minimum of three females (or the space to have three females), two males, or three elephants of mixed gender.
The Association of Zoos and Aquariums requires each zoo with elephants to have a minimum of three females (or the space to have three females), two males, or three elephants of mixed gender.

The Nonhuman Rights Project maintains that because of her advanced intelligence, Happy should not be from imprisoned against her will. The argument that an elephant deserves the same rights as a human has little precedent, though the definition of personhood under U.S. law has been debated since the founding of the country, The Atlantic reports.

Elephants are highly intelligent and empathetic animals.
Elephants are highly intelligent and empathetic animals.

“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, and the zoo is prohibiting her from making any of those choices herself,” said an attorney for Happy.

Elephants are adept tool users and cooperative problem solvers; they are highly empathic, comforting one another when upset; and likely have a sense of self.
Elephants are adept tool users and cooperative problem solvers; they are highly empathic, comforting one another when upset; and likely have a sense of self.

The Nonhuman Rights Project is now fighting for Happy’s freedom, taking her case to New York’s highest court to demand that the Bronx Zoo release Happy to an elephant sanctuary, the Washington Post reports.

Click below and help us ask the Bronx Zoo to release Happy to an elephant sanctuary to live out the rest of her life in peace!

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