Animal Activists Put San Diego Zoo Global on Annual List of ‘Ten Worst Zoos for Elephants’

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Tembo the elephant is seen in an undated photo. (Credit: San Diego Zoo)

Tembo the elephant is seen in an undated photo. (Credit: San Diego Zoo)

An animal activist group that publishes an annual list of the “Ten Worst Zoos for Elephants” ranked San Diego Zoo Global — parent organization for the zoo and the Safari Park — ninth this year.

San Diego was included because of “irresponsible breeding, severing bonds and treating elephants like expendable assets,” according to In Defense of Animals, a San Rafael organization that has been compiling the list since 2004 and has long been opposed to elephants being kept in zoos. This is the second time San Diego has been included.

“We do the list every year to draw attention to the fact that elephants suffer in captivity,” said Laura Bridgeman, director of the group’s elephant campaign. “No amount of space, financial investment or enrichment in public display facilities can completely eliminate the physical and psychological harm that captivity perpetuates for elephants.”

San Diego Zoo Global officials did not respond to multiple requests by phone and email for their reaction to the list, which was released Thursday. They have two Asian elephants and one African elephant at the zoo, and nine African bush elephants at the Safari Park.

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