As you may have heard, we recently completed a comprehensive health review of Lucy, the Asian elephant here at the Edmonton Valley Zoo. For the past 10 years experts have told us that moving Lucy would put her life in danger. Given her age, we expanded this year’s assessment to give us a fresh update on her situation.
We developed a list of 14 potential consulting authorities, with experts identified from our own research and other independent sources. After reviewing the relative merits of each expert, here’s who we selected to evaluate Lucy this past fall:
- Dr. Jim Oosterhuis, San Diego Zoo Global, considered one of the world’s leading veterinarians specializing in elephant health. He also has been involved in relocating dozens of elephants to new facilities. Because he has been assessing Lucy since 2002, we felt he is uniquely qualified to observe any changes in her condition;
- Dr. Ellen Wiedner, author of multiple peer-reviewed papers on elephant medicine who brings tremendous experience in elephant respiratory issues; and
- Dr. Renaud Léguillette of the University of Calgary, an internationally respected large animal internal medicine specialist who focuses on respiratory issues.
We asked these independent experts to assess not only Lucy’s health but whether she could safely travel. Indeed, because we were unsure of the outcome before the assessments, we spoke with an experienced elephant mover to understand the logistics of moving an elephant, we reviewed state-of-the-art moving crates, and we talked with folks who said good things about the Tennessee sanctuary as a potential home. In short, we were prepared for any outcome.
However, the reports from the assessing vets were very clear. Lucy has serious health issues, her respiratory issue appears to be getting worse, and it is not safe for her to travel. The full veterinarian reports are available online here.
Lucy has no immediate life-threatening concerns and her health issues, while serious, are being managed well. The three visiting vets all commented on the exceptional care Lucy receives. Nonetheless, as an elderly animal her needs are changing, so the elephant care team will continue to evolve our management program using international best practice. And of course, we will still continue to walk her everyday — exercise is critical to her health.
Lucy is a beloved member of our zoo family and the Edmonton community and she will continue to be treated with the respect and dignity she deserves. I invite you to go online to review the latest medical assessments. We will continue to keep our community updated on any changes to Lucy’s health or changes to her public activities.
Director, Edmonton Valley Zoo