Animal rights group says Disney's Animal Kingdom among "worst" for elephants

Posted Tuesday, January 13, 2015 10:22 AM | Contributed by Jeff

Disney's Animal Kingdom made the list of 2014's "10 worst zoos for elephants" by a group called In Defense of Animals. The death of a pregnant elephant after she was transferred from Animal Kingdom to a new nonprofit center in Fellsmere was cited as a reason for Disney's No. 10 spot on the list. In Defense of Animals, a California nonprofit, released the list Monday.

Read more from The Orlando Sentinel.

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Tuesday, January 13, 2015 10:34 AM

I hate these groups that think they always have all of the context and that they're experts in animal care.

Last year, when Disney was doing this weekly giveaway thing of various special private events, I won a backstage tour at Animal Kingdom. One of the stops was in the vet hospital, where we had a chance to talk to one of the vets on duty. She made an interesting point: Unlike a lot of zoos that are non-profit with limited resources, Animal Kingdom is fortunate because they generally don't need to make care decisions based on money. If an animal needs a medication, they buy it and administer it.

Like SeaWorld, when you get behind the corporate face and meet the people on the ground, you learn they're the best of the best.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015 12:43 PM

The plot to Kilimanjaro Safari comes to mind when reading the headline, for some reason.

EDIT: I think that the kidnapped baby elephant story was removed since I last rode though.

Last edited by LostKause, Tuesday, January 13, 2015 12:44 PM
Tuesday, January 13, 2015 12:54 PM

Yeah, it's been out for a couple of years now, I think. They used that stretch for new habitats, I believe (been a long time since I've done it, don't remember what's there).

Wednesday, January 14, 2015 7:55 AM

I don't care how hard they "try" to care for animals, themeparks are inherently going to be flawed. These are publicly owned companies, their job is not stewardship, research, or education. They are making money. I hope people can move past this.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015 9:05 AM

That's an absurd view. Conservation, education and research are not mutually exclusive of profit.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015 10:03 AM

Everyone has opinions that is mine. I don't like how themparks use animal as attractions and entertainment. Not exclusive to Disney they all do it. The article suggests they moved elephants not based on the health of the animals. My guess would be an elephant with salmonella having diarrhea, or an elephant being chased out of the heard is no good for guests at the happiest place on earth.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015 10:56 AM

Which part of that isn't for the welfare of the animals? These idiots don't have any context about what's going on there.

You know what would be awesome for guests? Having as many lions as possible out in the habitat. Yet, they don't do it, instead carefully making sure each of the two groups are rotated while they never actually see each other. They do it because of the personalities and behavior of the two groups. The group with the older lion would likely kill the younger lions.

So make whatever assumptions you want as the basis of your opinion, but the reality is that they don't do anything arbitrarily for the sake of appearance over animal well-being.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015 10:56 AM

You'd guess wrong. I've ridden Kilimanjaro Safari and seen a hippo explosively spewing a whole lot of feces into the water. Diarrhea? Normal hippo bowel movement? No idea. But it happens, in front of guests.

Your notion that Disney "tries" to care for animals suggests you have no idea what Disney is doing off-stage to care for and protect the animals.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015 11:00 AM

Expanding on that, the same on-premise animal hospital treats a massive number of wild animals from both on and off the property, sometimes even hosting animals from other zoos. One of their biggest "customers?" Turtles. They have a tendency to wander on to roads and get hurt. They're treated and released, much in the way that SeaWorld is almost always caring for manatees from all over Florida.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015 12:01 PM

The info was good enough for the Orlando sentinel. Is this not a reputable source? Disney and SeaWorld self promoting is not a reputable source. But I don't care what happens behind the scenes the bottom line is that animals from Africa and Asia don't belong in an artificial habitat in Florida, new York, Texas, or anywhere else in north America. And the largest mammals on earth certainly should be taken from the southern ocean and put into a bathtub.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015 12:12 PM

Which is why, save for a few rescue/rehab animals, a solid majority of these animals we see today are captive bred.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015 12:34 PM

The Orlando Sentinel will report anything it thinks will generate page views.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015 12:56 PM

Beyond that, the Sentinel was reporting what In Defense of Animals was saying. The "source" wasn't the Sentinel, the source was organization, which has a clear agenda. To answer your question: no, it's not a reputable source.

I find it interesting that you profess to care about the animals, but don't care how they're being cared for.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015 1:15 PM

I ment that in the context that if the animals could live a happy meaningful life in an artificial habitat that the location was still not suitable. If that wasn't clear there you go. If I didn't care I would keep my thoughts to myself. I get it you don't agree. That is fine, go to the zoo enjoy. I just find it sad. If I want to see wildlife and feel good about it I go to a park/beach/preserve.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015 1:19 PM

Seeing animals in captivity is a great way to motivate people to love animals, and therefore support caring for them. I don't know how many people would fall in love with animals if they never saw them in person, and only saw them in books or videos.

And I am pretty confident that most of these zoos and parks are taking great care of the animals that they keep. They provide a great service to the community, in my opinion.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015 1:23 PM

If the animals could live a happy, meaningful life in an artificial habitat, why would it not be suitable?

Wednesday, January 14, 2015 4:40 PM


You are probably right about access increasing peoples feelings or care, but it doesn't make this treatment right. If these parks or zoos did turn a profit they wouldn't do it.


I don't believe it is possible. It isn't suitable because of the climate. The lions on the Kalahari don't have to deal with humid heat, tropical rains, or hurricanes like they do in Florida. I'm sure the animals are not left to fend for themselves in harsh weather so the means they are drugged and moved indoors. Really think about these animals natural existence and then look at their existence at any theme park. Some animals have negative physical symptoms like the whales with bent dorsal fins, and others we now know have psychological symptoms especially primates. The animals are also subjected to diseases that only exist in captivity. This is why there is virtually no reputable academic reaserch done on captive animals.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015 5:44 PM

" that means they are drugged and moved indoors."

No. They're not.

Do you really have so low an opinion of animals that you think they'd not seek shelter in inclement weather?

Last edited by slithernoggin, Wednesday, January 14, 2015 5:45 PM
Wednesday, January 14, 2015 6:39 PM

Even Bob Dylan sought Shelter from the Storm.


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