As we all do what we can to combat COVID-19, we’re thinking as always of our nonhuman animal clients, some of whom have spent decades in forced isolation in small, unnatural, impoverished environments. One such client is Happy, an elephant imprisoned without the company of other elephants in a tiny exhibit in the Bronx Zoo. In the winter months, when it’s too cold for Happy to be outside, she’s confined to an industrial cement structure lined with windowless, barred cages. Another elephant, Patty, who fatally attacked Happy’s companion years ago (surely as a result of the psychological stress of imprisonment), now lives the same solitary life as Happy following the death of Patty’s companion Maxine. Imagine the isolation we’re all experiencing now lasting a lifetime, with people paying to see you on the days you’re allowed outside and much of the world failing to see or choosing to ignore your suffering.
Like human beings, elephants need freedom and a community of other members of their species in order to thrive in order to thrive. We remain grateful to Bronx Supreme Court Justice Alison Tuitt for recognizing, in the ruling she issued in Happy’s case in February, that Happy is “an extraordinary animal with complex cognitive abilities, an intelligent being with advanced analytical abilities akin to human beings” and that “the arguments advanced by the NhRP are extremely persuasive for transferring Happy from her solitary, lonely one-acre exhibit at the Bronx Zoo to an elephant sanctuary.” Our fight to #FreeHappy continues, with the legal team hard at work on a brief we’ll file with the Bronx Appellate Court where we hope to argue as soon as possible for Happy’s right to live freely.
Click here to read about why Justice Tuitt’s decision is important to the fight for nonhuman animal rights and why we’re calling for the Bronx Zoo and the Wildlife Conservation Society, which manages it, to release Happy to The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee or the Performing Animal Welfare Society sanctuary.
We’re thinking of you, too, and hoping you’re as well as one can be in this tremendously difficult time for all, especially the most vulnerable among us. Please take good care of yourselves, everyone!
Learn more about Happy and her court case here.