Concerned Citizens For Jenny
For Information on Dallas City Council Voting from April 27 to May 9, click on: Take Action For Jenny!
By any measure, Jenny has had an unusually hard life.
Because of her tribulations, Jenny is a severely emotionally troubled elephant. She desperately needs specialized care that she cannot get in any zoo. Jenny suffers from prolonged bouts of crippling depression and has been known to self-mutilate and break steel cables with her head.
Jenny also has a history of physical problems, including painful and hard-to-heal foot abscesses, caused by restrictive confinement in an antiquated exhibit at the Dallas Zoo where she has had to stand in virtually one spot on hard packed sand for over twenty-two years. Many elephants in zoos die of complications associated with foot problems.
But, Jenny has a chance for a better life. She has been accepted for placement at The Elephant Sanctuary (TES) in Tennessee. TES is uniquely suited to care for her as its focus is on the healing and rehabilitation of troubled and ailing elephants like Jenny. This 2,700 acre natural habitat refuge provides 300 acres for the exclusive use of its three current resident African elephants. TES is recognized worldwide as a state of the art elephant habitat and treatment facility.
Dr. Joyce Poole, regarded by many as the foremost authority on elephants, and other leading elephant scientists have urged the City of Dallas to retire Jenny to TES. In an August 5, 2008 letter, Dr. Poole and twelve of her internationally renowned colleagues stated their expert opinion to the City of Dallas as follows:
"The (Elephant) Sanctuary specializes in caring for elephants like Jenny and will provide the individualized treatment and quiet, therapeutic environment she needs …The Sanctuary will provide a permanent home for Jenny and the company of other African elephants."
Despite expert opinion favoring Jenny’s retirement to TES; a deluge of telephone calls, facsimiles and e-mails from the citizens of Dallas and the world; and a good deal of unflattering media coverage of Dallas, a city highly conscious of its image and reputation, the Dallas Zoo refuses to retire Jenny to TES, an accredited elephant sanctuary.
The reason for their refusal is the Dallas Zoo is a member of the Maryland based Association of Zoos and Aquariums (A.Z.A.), a zoo industry trade group, whose policy is not to transfer valuable animals, such as elephants, outside of its member zoos. The A.Z.A. seeks to establish a trade monopoly in elephants and other endangered animals. The Dallas Zoo Director is a strict adherent of his trade association’s policy for reasons relating to his own career goals.
While the City and the Zoo play politics, Jenny languishes her life away in misery and solitary confinement a tiny, antiquated enclosure, shocking by modern zoo standards. Jenny could have a better life at TES if only Zoo politics were not in the way.
We can save Jenny now . Please read Jenny's entire history. Then, act to save Jenny.
In their natural state, elephants have evolved to walk often more than thirty miles a day. These highly intelligent and curious creatures run, swim, role in mud, tear up trees, play with each other and indulge in a myriad of activities to stimulate their minds and bodies. Their feet were meant to dig, climb, swim, run and stand, but all on natural soft dirt, sand, grass, forest and savanna floor, which maintains foot and joint health.
Elephants are one of four species on Earth proven to be sentient. An elephant is able to recognize her own reflection in a mirror and know it is her own. If an elephant’s face is marked with paint and the elephant looks into a mirror, she will touch her trunk to the paint on her face. This ability to recognize themselves in their reflections is considered a sign of high intelligence. Without a doubt, elephants are self-aware.
Elephants are like humans in many ways. They possess counting skills and practice sophisticated burial rituals. They are highly social, and their capacity for empathy has been well documented.
Elephants are deeply affectionate beings, who constantly communicate and touch each other. In the wild, female elephants maintain life-long and nurturing relationships with an extended family that includes mothers, aunts, siblings and cousins.
Female elephants require the company of others of their species to thrive and without it, cannot remain emotionally healthy.
A happy herd of elephants at The Elephant Sanctuary
Who is Jenny?
At the age of two, Jenny was torn from her wild mother’s side in Africa. It is almost certain that her mother was killed before little Jenny’s eyes, as a mother elephant will fight to the death to protect her baby. Mass elephant culls are known to have occurred in the region from which Jenny was kidnapped in the mid-1970’s, so it is likely that most if not all of Jenny’s close-knit extended adult family were killed, so that the babies could be stolen and sold to zoos and circuses.
Jenny was purchased by Roman Schmitt, an American elephant trainer infamous for his brutal training methods. We can only imagine the trauma that baby Jenny endured at his hands as Schmitt practiced a form of extremely cruel elephant training called "Learned Helplessness."
"Learned Helplessness" involves systematic abuse of the elephant to teach her that she had no control whatsoever over her life and that she was at the complete mercy of her trainer.
"Learned Helplessness" techniques are horrific and myriad. For instance, a struggling and terrified baby Jenny was most assuredly repeatedly held under water until she lost consciousness.
Another commonly used torture is to spread-eagle the elephant in an unnatural contortion for many hours and sometimes days at time. Elephants are also repeatedly beaten with metal pipes and pulled off their feet by chains and drug behind tractors.
Imagine the constant terror and bone-numbing despair of orphan Jenny, who as a sentient being understood that she would be tortured over and over again …and that she was powerless to do anything at all to save herself. We can never know how many days and nights Jenny lie in pain with her little body stretched beyond reasonable limits of endurance, but endure she had to as she had no friend or sympathizer to release her from relentless agony. The last kindness little Jenny knew was from her mother, who was shot dead trying to defend the baby she could not save.
Elephants weep from intense emotion, just as humans do. Who knows how many tears a bereft and frightened baby Jenny shed alone in the deep silence of the night or which of her countless travails caused her the most pain and sorrow? So she would not gain respite from the fellowship of other elephants, Jenny would likely have been chained largely in isolation for much if not all of the eight years she existed under Schmitt’s iron fist.
Roman Schmitt dominating animals with a bull hook