Photo Credit LEAPFree Lucy Zoo Elephant Edmonton Vally Zoo

Back in December 2019 we produced a blog titled ‘Is Lucy the Loneliest Elephant in the World?’

We gave an account on Lucy’s life and how she arrived at the zoo from Sri Lanka at the age of two when most elephant calves stay with their mothers until at least five years of age. She lived at the zoo on her own in her “barren concrete enclosure, behind a glass wall, as visitors watched her slowly pace around” for many years. In 1989 a young female African elephant named Samantha joined her. After 18 years Samantha was sent away to a zoo in the USA on breeding terms and never returned to the zoo in Edmonton. As we know elephants are social creatures and Samantha was the only elephant Lucy had known since arriving at the zoo.

Free Lucy Zoo Elephant Edmonton Valley Zoo
Photo Credit LEAP

What makes Lucy’s life even more intolerable at the zoo are the officials running the zoo and their ridiculous claims around this poor ageing elephant as to why she cannot leave the zoo.

In 2011 Edmonton Valley Zoo published a document outlining how their “zoo is a place that fosters enduring bonds between animals and people” as if they were trying to justify the zoo’s existence. As far as the zoo is concerned they say it would be cruel to take Lucy away from the zoo when she prefers human companionship from her team of carers. Really? Why are they not open to understand the full implication of what a sanctuary is? Their get out clause is their vets claim she is too ill to travel to a sanctuary. It’s as if the management team cannot accept that a sanctuary for elephants like Lucy could be a wonderful place for Lucy to spend her last days. How could Lucy be remotely better off in a bleak enclosure enduring minus temperatures during long winters? We have to keep in mind that in the wild this beautiful creature would have been brought up in a family structure where a wise Matriarch headed the group, and other older female elephants, would have been her mentors on life lessons as well as her protectors. But she received none of this from an elephant family and was sent across the world as a baby to live in an inadequate zoo environment. Why? To entertain the public who pay money to see a ‘real’ elephant miserably pacing around in a pathetic enclosure. Lucy has been imprisoned in this unacceptable existence for over 40 years. She had a companion for about 18 years of that time which was an elephant from a different species. Lucy is an Asian elephant and her companion, Samantha, an African elephant. But even this one elephant companion was cruelly taken away from her about 13 years ago.

Zoo Elephant Snow Alberta
Photo Credit LEAP

The town of Edmonton is in the Canadian State of Alberta where the temperature in the long cold winters can drop to -16°C.

So Lucy was taken from a warm climate as a baby to a northernmost home in Canada where few elephants if any have ever had to suffer. It’s not normal or natural for her and it has caused her to suffer numerous physical ailments. It will also have deeply affected her mentally. The list of her health issues have been serious thanks to the cold climate and her inadequate zoo enclosure. Overweight, arthritic, foot troubles and respiratory problems are just some of the concerns for her. Her veterinarians have checked her periodically and the zoo has provided Lucy with routines and drugs to keep her comfortable. But is this acceptable to keep an elephant in a zoo for over four decades to endure this sort of life? Is it right any wild animal should simply entertain the paying public in this day and age? Most people would say “No it is not!!!”

Free Lucy Zoo Elephant Edmunton Valley Zoo                                                                                    Photo Credit LEAP

So why does Edmonton Valley Zoo think that this is appropriate for an elephant who has suffered for so long bringing in a hell of a lot of money for this zoo business?

For that is what all this zoo must be. A profit making business paying good wages to those managers and directors running the zoo. It’s totally unacceptable to be so cruel by not letting this ageing elephant spend her last days in an ELEPHANT SANCTUARY in the USA. There have been offers of money to pay for Lucy’s transport and expenses. The zoo wouldn’t have to pay anything to put Lucy in a sanctuary, where she could live the rest of her days peacefully with the companionship of other elephants and grass under her feet. These sanctuaries provide high quality care for elephants taken from zoos and circuses. Many have suffered with long-term health and behavioural issues. On top of this the sanctuary environments “are closed to the public”. No more spectators trying to pat them. No more noise from children and parents shouting and shrieking. No more pacing up and down in a small barren enclosure. No more freezing cold winters. It’s a nonsense this zoo won’t let Lucy go to the elephant sanctuary when amongst all the licences, accreditations and certifications the sanctuary is actually certified by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA).

Free Zoo Elephant Lucy Edmunton Valley Zoo Photo Credit LEAP

The Edmonton Valley Zoo Director, Lindsey Galloway and the City of Edmonton must understand how wrong this is to keep an ageing wild animal in these conditions in their zoo.

In this day and age many of the general public see zoos as unfit habitats for all wild animals and that is across the world. Lucy could never be put back in the wild but she could be safely placed in an elephant sanctuary. Edmonton Valley Zoo must surely understand that zoos that allow “guests to closely interact with animals” are a disgrace and unethical in the 21st Century. Why have they not allowed independent vets who are not associated with the organisation that represents Canada’s zoos and aquariums to check Lucy and her medical records? Why does the Edmonton Valley Zoo and the City of Edmunton decline to allow Lucy to retire to a sanctuary? Why? Many other ageing elephants have managed to travel with similar issues. Lucy has served her time in the zoo and must be allowed to spend her last day in a sanctuary where she can find other elephant companionship and feel the sun on her back and the grass beneath her feet………….we will carry on to help Lucy get to a sanctuary and spend the rest of her days in peace and comfort because she deserves nothing less.

Free Lucy Zoo Elephant Edmonton Valley ZooPhoto Credit LEAP

Lucy’s Edmonton Advocate’s Project (LEAP) is a group whose aim has been to increase the involvement of advocates to free Lucy the elephant from the Edmonton Valley Zoo.

Can You Help Lucy Get To The Sanctuary?

Call To Action for LUCY

“43 Years in Prison – ENOUGH!”

May 19, 2020 marks year FORTY-THREE of Lucy’s solitary confinement at the Valley Zoo in Edmonton. Think of that. Since 1977. Basically alone for over 4 decades.
No friends. No family. Arthritis. Respiratory Problems. Guided walks in a parking lot. Animal exploitation. No grass. No greens. Concrete. Loneliness. No pool. Boredom. Insufficient space. This has been a long drawn-out death sentence but it’s NOT TOO LATE. With the appropriate care and environment offered with a sanctuary life, she could experience years of a free, normal life ahead. We must continue spreading the word.
LEAP Members: Share this Call To Action to Social Media Influencers, Vets, Teachers, Doctors, Bloggers, and others because Lucy needs as many persons of influence to speak out for her!
We need videos (5-7 seconds in length) with a person of influence either expressing in words or holding a sign with a message about why Lucy’s 43 years of captivity must end.
The message could be as simple and powerful as “Retire Lucy.” Or “Enough is enough.” Or “Lucy Deserves Sanctuary.” Or “Listen up, Edmonton; send Lucy to sanctuary and give her the life she deserves.”
Either way, for impact, we need the name, profession, and location of the person in the video so we may include that on the screen on the final video.
Please video horizontally and NOT vertically. “WeTransfer” is one of the EASIEST ways to send files. No account is needed; simply bring up, then click on “send a file,” and send to: [email protected]
Thank you for helping acknowledge Lucy’s 43rd year of imprisonment. The final video compilation will be circulated on social media and to Edmonton officials.
Send videos by April 30 2020

🐘🐘🐘‼️‼️‼️CALL TO ACTION ‼️‼️‼️🐘🐘🐘

In light of recent events (New veterinary Reports and EVZ being on IDA’s Worst Zoos for Elephants List) we are calling on our members to help us with a new Call to Action on Lucy’s behalf.
Please keep your interactions polite and professional, citing facts where necessary. We will provide you some important points you can refer to below.
1. Contact Zoo Director Lindsey Galloway to request that he allow in a few of the experts on LEAP’s recommended list. LEAP will cover the examination costs. He can be reached at:
Edmonton Valley Zoo Director – Lindsey Galloway
(phone)780-442-5311 (general zoo phone number)
Email: [email protected]
2. Contact the City of Edmonton to express your concern about Lucy’s well being. Calls to the city are logged. They may transfer you to the zoo. City of Edmonton phone hours 7am-7pm MST.
City of Edmonton (The zoo is owned by the city)
In the Edmonton region, phone: 311
Outside Edmonton, phone: 780-442-5311
Email: [email protected]
Link to contact form:
3. Contact the Interim City Manager– Adam Laughlin. The previous City Manager Linda Cochrane has retired. She was a former Director at the Edmonton Valley Zoo.
Office of the City Manager
City of Edmonton
3rd Floor, City Hall
1 Sir Winston Churchill Square
Edmonton, AB, T5J 2R7
Email: [email protected]
Telephone: 780-496-8231
4. Contact our City and Provincial politicians
Click this link for their contact info:
Worst Zoos List:
–‘In Defense of Animals’ is a highly regarded animal welfare organization that annually compiles a list of the top 10 Worst Zoos for Elephants in North America.
–For the past 9 years, The Edmonton Valley Zoo has made the list 8 out of 9 years, including holding first and second place four times and also received the dubious distinction of getting a dishonorable mention and placement in the Hall of Shame. It comes as no surprise that EVZ is on the list again for 2019

Recent Veterinary Reports:
As you all know in the Spring of 2019, LEAP reached out to newly hired Zoo Director Linsdey Galloway. Mr. Galloway was receptive to having a dialogue with us about Lucy and discussing possible options for her future. in June 2019, LEAP President Mary-Ann Holm personally met with Mr. Galloway. It was a lengthy, cordial discussion and as a result there was renewed hope that the long standing request to bring in a team of independent species experts to examine Lucy and provide an unbiased second opinion on whether Lucy could be safely relocated to sanctuary, might finally happen. Our hope was based on several commitments made during the meeting and afterwards in emails and phone calls with Mr. Galloway, including:
1) Mr. Galloway’s statement that he agreed species not appropriate for zoo captivity included elephants, primates and orcas.
2) His statement that caring for Lucy’s specialized needs is a growing and significant challenge for the Edmonton Valley Zoo.
3) A written statement that he wants to ensure that the zoo obtains fresh information on Lucy’s prognosis and to seek out updated assessments in the coming months by impartial authorities about her condition. He assured us that there would be “no predetermined outcomes” and that he is looking at the new evidence with “fresh eyes”. He also committed to full zoo transparency and has committed to keeping us in the loop going forward.
During our conversations, when it was pointed out to him that previous consultants had made some recommendations that the Valley Zoo never followed up on, he agreed that this was not acceptable. Specifically mentioned were the recommendations from CAZA’s hired consultant Dr. Cracknell, who recommended that EVZ should among, other things:
Aim to reduce her weight to facilitate the osteoarthritis and respiratory support – in the region of 3,600-3,700 kg would be ideal. Lucy’s weight at this time was 3992 kgs (8782 lbs) Lucy’s weight in June of 2019 at 4112 kgs (9048 lbs)
Attempt to develop qualitative and quantifiable methods of assessing oxygenation to allow accurate assessment of respiratory compromise during rest or exercise.
LEAP pointed out that attempts to reduce Lucy’s weight continue to be unsuccessful. In fact, Lucy’s weight has increased since Cracknell’s examination. That her ability to exercise is restricted by climate and space, should be reason alone to recognize that a move to sanctuary would be beneficial to her breathing and arthritis. It should be noted this isn’t the first time EVZ has not followed their own consultant’s recommendations. The regular consulting vet Dr. James Oosterhuis also recommended Lucy have a larger enclosure and rubber matting on the floor back in 2009, but it required a formal complaint to The Edmonton Humane Society in 2011 before either of these were done. The larger enclosure was actually just the exercise tent set-up behind Lucy’s barn and still requires her to traverse through the cold weather and snow to get there. Despite this, the EVZ rejected the offer of an insulated coat for Lucy to use on her walks.
LEAP reminded Mr. Galloway that there still had been no attempts to measure Lucy’s oxygenation in any capacity despite it being a simple, readily available non-invasive test. A renowned elephant specialist Dr. Susan K. Mikota has stated regarding Lucy’s respiratory condition, that mouth breathing should not preclude her from transport, the important factor to consider is what happens to her oxygenation during times of mouth breathing. Mr. Galloway gave some reassurance that these measurements would be done during these next assessments, but they were not. Yet this is the most valuable piece of information to gauge Lucy’s respiratory status and the risks involved with transporting her.
LEAP provided a list of recommended experts to the Valley Zoo which Mr. Galloway stated was a solid list although he did not select even one of them. The three vets chosen for the recent examinations were not what they were promised to be, for example:
–Dr’s Oosterhuis and Wiedner were not fresh eyes nor were they impartial. They were certainly not independent second opinions. Both vets have examined Lucy in the past and had opined that she could not be moved safely. Both have shown a clear bias against moving elephants to sanctuaries. Dr. Oosterhuis was the only vet out of 11 who said Alaska’s elephant Maggie couldn’t be moved 13 years ago, because she wouldn’t survive the trip. She did survive and is still alive and thriving at Sanctuary. Dr. Oosterhuis became the Valley Zoo’s primary consultant after rendering his opinion about Maggie. Dr. Wiedner in her report made some erroneous negative claims about sanctuaries, inaccurate statements about the life expectancy of elephants and the death of sanctuary elephants after transport. Both Dr’s Oosterhuis and Weidner work in the zoo/circus industry and have made errors in judgement on a number of cases involving sick elephants.
–The third Vet Dr. Leguillette is an equine vet from the University of Calgary. He has no experience with elephants. Mr. Galloway stated he chose him due to “some out of the box thinking” because he was a large animal vet and out of the industry altogether. Aside from elephants and horses being large animals, they have very little in common with each other from a respiratory anatomy standpoint. Considering the goal of these exams was to assess Lucy’s breathing as it relates to potential transport, this was a bizarre choice. Lucy is noted to have an undiagnosed obstruction occluding one side her trunk (nose) causing her to mouth breathe during times of exertion. Horses do not have the ability to breathe through their mouth at anytime. Horses can live and thrive in northern climates while elephants cannot. We are astounded by the inclusion of Dr. Leguillette.
To review the veterinary reports in their entirety, click this link:
To review a written statement about these assessments from Zoo Director Lindsey Galloway, you can do so here:
To review a more detailed summary of our review of the recent vet reports you can click this link. There is more detailed information about the recent vets on page 3
The Zoo claims that transporting her would be an “unkindness” and could be potentially sending her to her death. The manner in which Lucy has been kept is an unkindness and will inevitably lead to her premature death. Examples:
–Climate is not only aggravating Lucy’s painful arthritis and cold dry air detrimental to her breathing issues, but also limits her exercise significantly. Lucy spends as much as 2/3rd’s of her life inside her tiny barn.
–Loneliness and solitude: Lucy exhibits the typical signs of Zoochosis (stereotypical repetitive movements due to psychological stress from boredom, loneliness and lack of species appropriate conditions).
–No place to swim to allow increased exercise indoors (weight loss), hydrotherapy to relieve painful pressure on her arthritic joints and help alleviate boredom. Most zoos will provide this minimum comfort. Arthritis is a leading cause of death in captive elephants.
–No access to trees, a mud pit or anything resembling a natural habitat.
–Inappropriate unvaried diet and no access to water at all times which will aggravate her symptoms of colic, which has been worsening in the past few years and can lead to premature death. We have noted on several visits that Lucy’s water troughs are empty and that she is given a hose for drinking by her keepers occasionally. Since she is alone for at least 12 hours a day, that severely limits her ability to hydrate as does her diet which primarily consists of hay and dried kibble. Dehydration is a contributing cause of colic. Lucy’s teeth have been in horrible condition and has caused her much pain and it prevents her from being able to chew properly to aid in digestion. This will also aggravate her colic. Dental issues are commonly seen in captive elephants who don’t get a natural diet such as branches and fresh browse to chew on to keep their teeth healthy.
‼️‼️After reviewing the recent veterinary reports, LEAP president Mary-Ann Holm spoke on the telephone with Mr. Galloway to express her disappointment with the vets chosen and the lack of analysis of Lucy’s oxygenation yet again. Mary-Ann asked if the zoo would consider allowing in a few of LEAP’s recommended vets if LEAP covered the associated costs. She assured Mr. Galloway that Lucy would not need to have more invasive testing done again e.g. Scoping of her trunk, and that LEAP’s consultants could just review the films and results already obtained. Mary-Ann again mentioned that Lucy’s respiratory compromise and the potential risk for transport could not be determined without the analysis of Lucy’s oxygenation, which could finally be assessed if he agreed to these additional examinations. Mr. Galloway’s response was an emphatic NO. Mary-Ann mentioned that his response implies a lack of confidence in the vet exams recently done and indicates a concern that they would not hold up to peer review. A long conversation ensued but, in the end, Mr. Galloway would not change his mind‼️‼️
Also, important to note:
The Edmonton Valley Zoo is currently in violation of 4 important standards listed in the Alberta Standards for Zoos and violations to the Alberta Animal Protection Act. Click link for more info:
Please feel free to message us at [email protected] if you have questions and please share any responses you get with us.

We thank you in advance for helping us. 

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