Friday, December 12, 2008

NEWS FLASH - Elephants live longer in wild than in zoos

WOW!!!! Here is a shock... Why do newspapers waste their time and energy to report the obvious.

WASHINGTON - Zoo elephants don't live as long as those in the wild, said a study sure to stir debate about keeping the giant animals on display.

Researchers compared the life spans of elephants in European zoos with those living in Amboseli National Park in Kenya and others working on a timber enterprise in Myanmar.

The researchers found that the median life span for African elephants in European zoos was 16.9 years, compared with 56 years for elephants who died of natural causes in Kenya's Amboseli park. Adding in those elephants killed by people in Africa lowered the median life span there to 35.9 years.

For the more endangered Asian elephants, the median life span in European zoos was 18.9 years, compared with 41.7 years for those working in the Myanmar Timber Enterprise.

Georgia Mason of the animal sciences department at the University of Guelph, Canada, noted however that the life spans of zoo elephants have improved in recent years, suggesting an improvement in their care. But, she added, "protecting elephants in Africa and Asia is far more successful than protecting them in Western zoos."

There are about 1,200 elephants in zoos, half in Europe, said Mason, one of the report's authors. She noted that zoos usually lack large grazing areas, and that zoo animals often are alone or with one or two other unrelated animals, while in the wild they tend to live in related groups of eight to 12 animals.

Steven Feldman, a spokesman for the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, contended that the report did not reflect conditions in North America.

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