Many elephants, along with Edmonton Valley Zoo’s Lucy, now notorious in Canada, are housed in zoos across the world in questionable conditions. Learn from world famous wildlife biologist, elephant expert, and public speaker Dr. Winnie Kiiru why elephants are ill-suited for captivity.

In this episode, Dr. Kiiru rejects viewing elephant behavior in zoos as an accurate reflection of their natural habitat and pure beauty and grace. Dr. Kiiru explains how zoos expose children to a wrong and unnatural situation. She believes that educating kids about elephants can be best accomplished through the media exposing the very nature of these impressive animals, on the internet or in television programming, movies, publications, or even via ecotourism where they can see elephants doing what elephants do in the wild.

“During millions of years, elephants have evolved with a complex set of physiological and social adaptations that allow them to survive for easily 70 years through a very complex habitat. It’s unimaginable that one would take such an intelligent and complex being and put it in a little enclosure, and hope to stimulate that big brain and the very interesting behaviours it exhibits.” – Dr. Winnie Kiiru.

Kathryn and Gen go on to remembering the impact of seeing elephants in zoos during their childhoods and discuss whether it really was a learning experience for them. Just as with cetaceans in captivity, they reflect on how zoo exhibits provide an inaccurate view of natural elephant behavior, social networks and even their physical attributes.

“It’s not just about preserving the species, it’s about the quality of life of these animals.” – Kathryn Sussman.

Our message of change: As grown ups, we need to explain to children that elephants do not belong in zoos! Now you know!

Be part of the change!

  • Simply avoid going to facilities that house elephants.
  • Express your concern or voice your displeasure with all zoos in Canada that are currently holding captive elephants by asking them to take immediate action to relocate them to more suitable facilities in warmer climates.
  • Break with tradition at a family level by having the courage to not take kids to see elephants at the zoo, and explain why.
  • Encourage children to use media to learn about elephants and watch them in their natural habitats instead of going to the zoo.
  • Create a movement of consciousness through education within your community and reach out to elected officials to change legislation on elephant captivity in your region or country.
  • Save up and visit elephants in their natural habitat: take part in humane ecotourism opportunities only.
  • Contact organizations and take action to establish viable solutions for the future of these animals, such as sanctuaries that provide rehabilitation in warmer climates.
  • Help us spread the word by sharing this podcast in your network.

What’s next?

Join us in our aim to reach superstar, comedian and philanthropist Ellen Degeneres, as she has been campaigning for elephants since 2017. Ask her to spread the word by tagging her on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook with a link to this episode.

Learn more

Listen to the full interview Elephants Don’t Belong In Captivity with elephant expert Dr. Winnie Kiiru.

If you’ve enjoyed listening to our podcast, we’ve a favour to ask. A lot of volunteering goes into making Now You Know, but it still takes money to run. If you’d like to help us make future Now You Know podcasts, please consider donating. Thank you!

Kathryn, Gen and the Now You Know team.

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