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Mayor Mitchell and the New Bedford (MA) City Council: Retire Asian elephant Ruth from Buttonwood Park Zoo NOW!

Mayor Mitchell and the New Bedford (MA) City Council: Retire Asian elephant Ruth from Buttonwood Park Zoo NOW!

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This petition has been created by Friends of Ruth & E. and may not represent the views of the Avaaz community.
Friends of Ruth & E.
started this petition to
Mayor Mitchell and the New Bedford (MA) City Council
You have the power to give this poor elephant what she deserves: Freedom. Tall grass to forage. Muddy ponds to soak her weary bones. Friends of her own kind. Peace, dignity.

She does not have, nor will she ever have, these basic elephant needs met at your Buttonwood Park Zoo.

Please Retire Ruth now to The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee, so she can have the things that she has been deprived of her entire life.

You agreed to close the elephant exhibit when Ruth & Emily die. Why must they die here?

Claims that they would not survive the journey are simply untrue. Many sicker older elephants are transported even greater distances and do well. It can be done.

The children need to see this? Be honest. Children spend barely a minute at the exhibit before running to the next one. And they don't learn a thing about elephants. Instead they learn the wrong thing on purpose.

The Association of Zoos & Aquariums certification? Why let AZA dictate the life of this poor elephant? They don't pay to run it. We do. And you are supposed to follow the will of the people, not that of an out-of-state and out-of-touch trade organization.

16 hours a day in a concrete barn, even with a dirt floor, means 16 hours a day of Ruth standing, lying, and sleeping in her own urine and feces. You wouldn't make a dog do that--that would be a Class D felony punishable by 5 years in jail. But that is what you are condemning Ruth to til the day she dies.

And in the winter it is worse. That 16 hours climbs to 20 hours, to 24 hours, then days at a time standing in her own waste, with nothing to do. Too cold to go outside, dangerous if she did. You know Ruth was found outside in a blizzard and the damage it did to her--physically and psychologically.

Then, after 10" of Ruth's tail bone was amputated--yes, surgically amputated--Emily attacked her again, pulling out her sutures and re-infecting her tail.

You know this. We've told this to you before.

Now it's time to do what is right.

If you can't find it in your hearts to retire both Ruth & Emily, at least have the moral decency to retire Ruth NOW.

The Friends of Ruth & Emily

Ruth, a 55-year-old Asian elephant residing at the City of New Bedford, MA-owned Buttonwood Park Zoo, desperately needs to get out of the zoo life and retire to The Elephant Sanctuary in Hohenwald, TN.

No other elephant in North America has been through what Ruth has been through in her 55 years.
  • Ruth is limping, and has been for a year and a half. It went undiagnosed until May 2015 when an independent veterinarian was being contacted to examine Ruth. She then received sporadic treatment. But there is no veterinarian at the zoo now and hasn't been for four months. The last vet had no experience with elephant management. Nor did the previous vet have experience with elephants, the one who left for Hawai'i one week after Ruth was found outside in a blizzard.
  • On January 3, 2014, Ruth was found outside in a blizzard in subzero weather. The Zoo guesses she was outside for at least 1 1/2 hours during white-out conditions. They had failed to lock the door the day before. They now claim that she "failed to return to the barn" as if it were her fault.
  • Ruth suffered hypothermia and it took five hours to resuscitate her. She suffered frostbite most severely on her tail, vulva, and ears, but also on her trunk, face, mouth and undercarriage. She then got staph and strep infections on the raw tissue where her skin had sloughed off due to frostbite. It took a year for her to heal.
  • On November 5, 2014, Ruth had 10" of her tail removed--5" due to the frostbite, 5" due to a painful bone infection called osteomyelitis.
  • On November 9, 2014, Ruth was attacked by Emily--again. Zoo staff failed to keep her separate from Emily while she was recuperating from surgery. Emily yanked Ruth's tail so hard she trumpeted in pain. Senior Zoo staff present failed to separate them, and Emily went after her again. And again on December 4, and January 26 and April 11, 2015. The zoo now says these wounds left from these attacks are self-inflicted.
  • Emily has taken her frustrations out on Ruth for nearly 30 years, and the zoo has always known this. The people who are charged with protecting Ruth have failed to do so. Instead the Zoo kept her as a "companion" for Emily.
  • In 2006, Emily bit 6 1/2" off Ruth's tail. This was one of many attacks on Ruth by Emily.
  • Since then, Ruth has been bitten, tusked, rammed, shoved, pushed down and otherwise attacked by Emily. She has suffered injuries such as lacerations and cuts on her trunk, her tail, and her haunches, according to zoo records.
  • Ruth can't fight back. Her trunk is paralyzed, likely through a beating. This happened after she arrived at Buttonwood Park Zoo. The newspaper photo taken the day she arrived says it all--in 1986 when Ruth arrived, she could raise the end of her trunk in greeting to Emily.
She can no longer do that.
  • The Zoo now posts photos of Ruth taken just as she swings her trunk up to make it appear she still can lift her trunk, but anyone who has ever visited the zoo knows that is simply false.
  • In October 1986, Ruth was found abandoned in a trailer full of dead and dying animals. Her owner was on the lam from the USDA, who had confiscated the other animals in his menagerie. On the night before Ruth was to be confiscated, the owner stole back his animals from Southwick Zoo and stufed Ruth in a trailer with them. Two days later, the trailer was found, and many of the animals had already died. Ruth had been without food or water for at least two days. Despite all that, when she arrived at Buttonwood Park Zoo, she reached out to Emily.
And that's just the past 29 years of her life. Ruth was "trained" to do stupid circus tricks, likely with bullhooks and ropes, when she was little.

In fact, the Zoo continues to use bullhooks, only on Ruth, to make her move faster when she limps along. The zoo plans on continuing to use bullhooks in their elephant management in the future.