Organized by the Performing Animal Welfare Society and Oakland Zoo, a biannual opportunity for those working to protect elephants to come together.
The Summit for Elephants organized by our good friends at the Performing Animal Welfare Society (PAWS) and Oakland Zoo, is a biannual opportunity for those working to protect elephants to come together.
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This year the venue shifted from the ARK 2000 sanctuary to Oakland Zoo, attracting some 100 attendees and significant representation from the zoo industry. This makes it a unique coming together of animal activists, sanctuaries, researchers and the captive animal industry.
Oakland Zoo is one of the progressive U.S. zoo’s promoting protected contact, and taking a stand on the keeping of certain species and opposing animal circuses and other inappropriate animal use.
Summit attendees learned about the latest field research and about the plight of elephants from conservationists and activists working to save their habitat and protect them from poaching and abuse in captivity. Presenters and participants hailed from Brussels, India, Kenya, Sri Lanka, The Netherlands, U.K., Norway, Brazil, Mexico, Canada, and across the U.S.A.
ADI’s President Jan Creamer and VP Tim Phillips gave an update on our successful international efforts to end the use of animals in circuses. In two years, since the last Summit for Elephants, ADI has closed down every circus in Bolivia, saved the animals and secured bans in Greece, Peru and Ecuador. Jan and Tim also talked through how our campaigns are moving us closer to bans in other countries such as Brazil, Colombia and Chile. This included ADI’s shocking exposé of the abuse of Anne the elephant with Bobby Roberts Circus. This led to Anne being moved out of the circus, a prosecution of the owners, and the British Government announcing they will introduce a ban.
Matt Rossell, ADI Campaigns Director then joined in for a U.S. update on the Traveling Exotic Animal Protection Act (HR 3359), and announcing the elephant ride victories that had followed our undercover exposé of Have Trunk Will Travel.
The animal protection and legislative session also had presentations from: Martha Golar, Esq., Association of the Bar of the City of New York, on the role of bar associations; Denise M. Sofranko, DVM, Field Specialist for Elephants USDA/APHIS/Animal Care on how regulatory agencies operate and the public can work with them; Cindy Machado, from Marin Humane Society on inspecting circuses; other aspects of campaigning were covered by Matt and Delcianna Winders (PETA), Catherine Doyle (IDA), and Leonie Vestering, of Holland’s Wilde Dieren de Tent Uit; local campaigns by Katie Maneeley (The Animal Agency), Anna Ware (Atlanta Humane Society) and Las Vegas animal advocate, Linda Faso.
Especially inspiring was the work of Kartick Satyanarayan and Geeta Seshamani, of Wildlife SOS India, battling against incredible odds and getting results.
Various field research on wild elephants was presented by Keith Lindsay and Winnie Kiiru of the Amboseli Elephant Research Project, Joyce Poole of ElephantVoices, Caitlin O’Connell Rodwell of Stanford University, and Sharon Niel. Too often research of wild animals has little impact on the lives of captive elephants – with circuses and some zoos simply shrugging off how they live in the wild as two different things. So this is a valuable forum for these researchers, to put their findings into this context.
The practical issues of caring for and addressing the problems of elephants in captivity were tackled by Adam M. Stone, of Atlanta Zoo, Dagmar Gerdes, San Juan de Aragon Zoo, Mexico, Ariel Fagan, Tufts University Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine, Rob Atkinson, The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee, Guy Lichty, North Carolina Zoo, Joel Parrott , Colleen and Gina Kinzley, Oakland Zoo, Margaret Whittaker, of Active Environment and, of course, Ed Stewart and Pat Derby of PAWS.
There was an eye to the future with Sofie Goetghebeur and Tony Verhulst, of Elephant Haven who propose Europe’s first elephant sanctuary.
Informed, inspired and well fed with amazing vegan fare from Native Foods restaurateur, Tanya Petrovna, participants ended the summit with a visit to PAWS ARK2000 sanctuary in San Andreas, also home of four of the lions rescued by ADI from Bolivian circuses.
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