It was only two weeks ago that Knut the world famous polar bear drowned at the Berlin Zoo. And early today, officials told the AP that a six-year-old Indian elephant named Shaina Pali died there. A veterinarian suspects an infection is the cause of death, and a necropsy is being performed.
Elephants provoke some of the sharpest debate. Some critics argue that even the best zoos do not provide appropriate room for an elephant to wander or socialize like her wild relatives. The average Asian elephant herd has 20 calves, juveniles, and adult females. (The bulls typically roam solo.) Elephants need enough space, the critics argue, to walk seven miles per day. But AZA officials say that's an overstatement: Just because an animal walks miles and miles on the savannah doesn't mean that much exercise is critical to its health.
To support their argument, the anti-zoo advocates often point to a 2008 study in the journal Science, which found that captive African elephants live far shorter lives than their counterparts in a Kenyan national park-a median of 16.9 years in zoos versus 56 years in the park.
It's just so strange when keeping massive beasts in captivity doesn't work out.
[Image of Shaina Pali via AP]