Elephants= Passion and Emotion

Elephants= Passion and EmotionActivists seem to be passionate and emotional about the two Asian elephants at the El Paso Zoo. Good. That is just the reaction that people should have about elephants.

My elephant keepers are absolutely passionate and emotional about Juno and Savannah. So am I. So is the rest of the staff at the Zoo. So is this community. Because of Juno and Savannah the keepers, the zoo staff, and the community are also passionate and emotional about wild Asian elephants and wild places on earth. Good. That is just the reaction that people should have when they are near an elephant.

It is an undeniable human characteristic to be drawn to animals. It's what draws families to zoos and it's what draws people to work at zoos. Our mission is to reestablish a connection between humans, animals, and the natural world. It's good for us, it's good for future generations, and it's good for the natural world. Zoos are messengers. Our message is of hope. We passionately believe that individual action can help reverse the global downward trends in biodiversity and the weakening of ecosystems. What better way to tell the story of the value of animals than in a safe, family friendly experience that our zoo provides.

At the El Paso Zoo, we care deeply about the well-being of Juno and Savannah. We provide for their physical, mental, and social health every day. Our zoo veterinarian is the most qualified to comment on the physical health and psychological well-being of Juno and Savannah. She is respected and highly qualified in her field. She reports that our elephants are healthy and continue to respond positively to the Zoo's ongoing active management program including enrichment and free choices.

Meanwhile wild Asian elephant populations are locked in an epic struggle of survival that we could not possibly understand. Elephants are losing their wild places to live and both elephants and people are losing their lives in the battle. Because of the support of this community and the inspiration of Juno and Savannah, the El Paso Zoo is able to directly assist elephant conservation projects in these areas of the world. We are as passionate and emotional about this crisis in the wild as we are about inspiring people to help.

According to a 2005 Harris Poll, 95 percent of respondents agreed that visiting accredited zoos and seeing elephants and rhinos helps people appreciate them more and encourages people to learn more about them.

During my interview for this position, in meetings with Council Members, the Mayor, the City Manager and her staff, the Zoological Society, and even my staff at the zoo, I was open to all possibilities including recommending an end to the elephant program here if I found anything that necessitated such action.

Let me tell you what I found. My extensive review revealed that the facilities and management programs are outstanding and in some cases innovative. The physical and psychological well-being of our elephants is viewed by our staff as a continuum on which they tirelessly work to improve and exceed needs.

I found no reason to send Juno and Savannah away.

The City Council asked the right questions about elephants and the Zoo's ability to care for them. The City Council made the correct decision to accept the recommendation made by their zoo professionals. El Paso should continue to be home to Juno and Savannah because it enriches our community by having our children inspired by this experience. We should continue because having these animals directly and indirectly contributes to wild elephant conservation.