On July 1, 2010, the Toledo Zoo's elephant manager, Don Redfox,
was attacked by a 7-year-old male African elephant named Louie and remains
hospitalized in serious condition.
The Toledo Zoo uses a cruel circus-style form of elephant management
that relies on the use of sharp metal bullhooks
to punish and control elephants. Elephants are conditioned to obey or else suffer
the painful consequences. Louie has been poked, prodded, hit, dominated, and
controlled with a bullhook since he was a baby. It's no surprise that he
finally rebelled against such abusive treatment.
On July 21, 2010,
the zoo released video footage of the incident. The footage clearly shows that
Louie is afraid of the bullhook and his handler—it also demonstrates
that the Toledo Zoo's use of the free-contact system to handle elephants is
downright dangerous. Dominating and punishing elephants by striking them with
bullhooks puts keepers at constant risk of injury or death and raises serious
animal welfare concerns. In the video, Redfox is shown using a bullhook, and indeed,
the sight of the device seems to cause Louie to back away at once.
More than half the accredited zoos in the country have
eliminated the use of bullhooks and switched to "protected contact,"
a safer and more humane method of elephant management. In protected contact, keepers
do not use any form of corporal punishment, and a safety barrier always
separates the elephants and keepers.
Please contact Dr. Anne Baker, CEO of the Toledo Zoo, and ask the zoo to
immediately transition to protected contact.
Please Switch to Protected Contact for Elephants