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NhRP Statement on the Euthanization of the Elephant Maxine by the Bronx Zoo

By Lauren Choplin

Nov. 20, 2018—New York, NY—The Nonhuman Rights Project (NhRP) laments not only the death of Maxine, but also her life.

With the death of Maxine, Patty is left without the meaningful companionship of another elephant and will be alone as Happy has been since the Bronx Zoo’s euthanization of Sammy in 2006.

As reflected in the scientific affidavits the NhRP submitted in support of Happy’s habeas corpus petition by such world-renowned elephant experts as Joyce Poole and Cynthia Moss, elephants are autonomous, self-aware individuals who empathize, engage in complex communication, problem-solve, and grieve. They require a vast amount of space in which to exercise their autonomy, to explore their worlds as members of multi-generational herds, and to make free choices about how to spend their days and live their profoundly complex emotional and social lives. At the Bronx Zoo, they are merely prisoners, forced to live in just a tiny fraction of the space a wild elephant would roam in a single day, while in the winter months, when the exhibit is closed to the public, they are kept in an indoor holding facility.

Maxine now joins the thousands of other elephants in the US and around the world who never had a choice and found freedom from imprisonment only in death. It is time for Happy and Patty to find sanctuary in life and for the Wildlife Conservation Society and the Bronx Zoo to act on the decision they rightly made in 2006 to close their elephant exhibit. As the NhRP prepares for its Dec. 14th habeas corpus hearing in Happy’s case, we urge the Wildlife Conservation Society and the Bronx Zoo to send Patty and Happy to an appropriate elephant sanctuary where they can live more natural lives and exercise their autonomy to the greatest degree possible in North America.

Media Contacts:

Karen Hinton

Lauren Choplin

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About the Nonhuman Rights Project
Founded in 1996 by attorney Steven M. Wise, the Nonhuman Rights Project (NhRP) works to secure legally recognized fundamental rights for nonhuman animals through litigation, advocacy, and education. Our mission is to change the legal status of at least some nonhuman animals from mere “things,” which lack the capacity to possess any legal right, to “persons,” who possess such fundamental rights as bodily integrity and bodily liberty and those other legal rights to which evolving standards of morality, scientific discovery, and human experience entitle them. Our current plaintiffs are members of species who have been scientifically proven to be autonomous: currently, great apes, elephants, dolphins, and whales. We are working with teams of attorneys on four continents to develop campaigns to achieve legal rights for nonhuman animals that are suited to the legal systems of these countries. We filed our first cases in December of 2013, and our work is the subject of the 2016 Pennebaker Hegedus/HBO documentary film Unlocking the Cage, which has been seen by millions around the world.

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