September 17, 2007
Ms. Lyudmila Anoka, Zoo Director
Prospekt Mira 26
236000 Kaliningrad (obl.)
Dear Ms. Anoka:
PETA is the world's largest animal rights organization, with more than 1.6 million members and supporters dedicated to animal protection. We are writing to urge you to put the welfare of Pregolja, the zoo’s solitary elephant, above all else by permanently closing the elephant exhibit and sending Pregolja to a sanctuary where she will be provided with an environment that more closely resembles life in the wild.
As you know, in the wild, elephants can travel 30 miles per day and are active for 18 hours each day. This freedom of movement and activity is essential for maintaining their physical and psychological well-being. They are highly social animals who live in matriarchal herds, protect one another, forage for fresh vegetation, play, bathe in rivers, and share mothering responsibilities for the herds’ babies. Their ability to feel pain—as well as sorrow, joy, and happiness—rivals our own.
Because of space limitations, zoos—no matter how well intentioned they may be—simply cannot provide for elephants’ physical and social needs. Lack of space creates health problems for captive elephants, such as muscular-skeletal ailments, arthritis, foot and joint diseases, boredom, depression, nutritional problems, poor physical fitness, reproductive abnormalities, high infant mortality rates, behavioral problems, and a host of other ailments. Pregolja faces the added problem of long, cold, harsh winters, relegating her to spend a significant amount of time indoors.
We understand that The Elephant Sanctuary in the U.S. state of Tennessee has agreed to accept Pregolja. The Elephant Sanctuary is a world-class facility that would provide Pregolja with the opportunity to roam through hundreds of acres of natural habitat, play in a lake, forage on fresh vegetation, and enjoy a healthy and enriching life in the company of other elephants.
Fourteen U.S. zoos and five zoos in the United Kingdom have closed their elephant exhibits or announced that they will phase out their elephant exhibits after concluding that they could not adequately provide for the complex needs of elephants and many sent their elephants to sanctuaries.
We realize that this is a difficult decision, but please know that by sending Pregolja to The Elephant Sanctuary, the Kaliningrad Zoopark will become part of a progressive trend within the zoo world and give Pregolja the opportunity to live in a suitable climate where she will enjoy ample space and the company of other elephants.
Thank you for your consideration. May we please tell our members that you have made this compassionate decision for Pregolja? I can be reached by fax at: 757-628-0784.
Lisa Wathne, Captive Exotic Animal Specialist
cc: Mayor Savenko and Kaliningrad City Council