The 47-year-old elephant named Happy has been living in solitude since 2006 and people are not at all happy about it.
The Bronx Zoo is spread over 260 acres, housing over 600 animal species. So what led over 700,000 people to sign an online petition to free one of their resident animals? According to The New York Times, an Asian elephant named Happy has been a permanent resident of the sanctuary for the past 40 years. The 47-year-old animal has been reportedly living a life of solitude since 2006 after being separated from the two elephants living in the same zoo. This decision to keep Happy away from the others came after a fight broke out among the animals which led to bad blood.
Now the question that people have been asking is whether Happy is actually happy? While the zoo confirmed on several occasions that their residing elephant is quite content an animal rights group begs to differ. The nonprofit organization, The Nonhuman Rights Project, works towards defending "nonhuman animals." They explained how the animal has been unlawfully imprisoned and due to that very reason the group has decided to sue the zoo in order to set the cheerful Happy free.
They have also been trying to protect three other elephants and a number of chimpanzees from the clutches of other zoos by providing them the similar legal protection as humans. The organization has since filed a petition on Happy's behalf. They argue that the animal is indeed not happy in her captivity and should to be liberated. All they want for Happy is to move to an elephant sanctuary where she would be granted the chance to make new friends.
Jim Breheny, the Bronx Zoo’s director straight out called the organization's claims "ludicrous" in a statement. He believed that the group was "exploiting the Bronx Zoo elephants to advance their own failing cause." Mr. Breheny also assured several times that Happy has "tactile and auditory" contact with her fellow elephants (the ones she doesn't really get along with).
Happy's living conditions have been a sad topic for activists to dwell on for quite some time now. Before being separated from the other two elephants, Happy had an elephant friend, named Grumpy. This lasted until 2002 when the two were relocated to an enclosure which they had to share with two others, Maxine and Patty. Unfortunately, Grumpy got into a brawl with the two new elephants who charged at him. Grumpy sadly couldn't recover from the injuries and died after some time.
Now, Happy was given another pachyderm partner named Sammy, but as fate would have it Sammy died in 2006. A week after Sammy's death the zoo announced that they would not not be acquiring any new elephants from then on. This was sad especially for Happy, who as a result didn't get any other roommate and has been leading a life of isolation ever since. The organization that brought the matter to everyone's attention but hasn't been successful in winning any of the legal procedure once the matter was taken to court.
Last week a writer, Yasher Ali, tweeted a post urging people to help Happy. He listed down 28 points which were all in the interest of Happy's well being. The first post read: 1. Elephants are just like us. They celebrate births & mourn deaths. And they grow depressed when they're isolated. They require a companion or herd in order to be happy Meet Happy the Happy is 48 & she lives at the @BronxZoo For the past 13 years, Happy has lived all alone.
2. There are two accredited sanctuaries in the US that are willing to accept Happy which would give her the opportunity to roam on a large plot of land and be surrounded by other elephants pals. But the @BronxZoo and it's director @JimBreheny are unwilling to give her up. pic.twitter.com/KPrWHasD0x— Yashar Ali 🐘 (@yashar) June 6, 2019
He then highlighted the fact that there were two other sanctuaries who were willing to help Happy seek new friends. But the reason why the Bronx zoo wasn't letting the animal leave was for "money (elephants are a proven revenue generator) and if they admit that Happy would be happier in a sanctuary they know if they give in, they may be forced to send other animals to sanctuaries." Furthermore, he wrote: Happy was captured in Thailand in the early 70s along with six other elephant calves. She and her companion Grumpy ended up at the @BronxZoo where they kept each other company for 25 years. In 2002, Grumpy was euthanized.
4. Happy was captured in Thailand in the early 70s along with six other elephant calves. She and her companion Grumpy ended up at the @BronxZoo where they kept each other company for 25 years. In 2002, Grumpy was euthanized.— Yashar Ali 🐘 (@yashar) June 6, 2019
After explaining how she grew up, Ali points out how Happy's life at the Bronx Zoo has been far from being happy. "It gets worse, from November through April, Happy is kept indoors due to the weather. In the wild, she would walk up to 20 miles a day with her herd. Instead, she's kept alone in a stable in the @BronxZoo. There's no reason for this to continue. Happy needs your help," he wrote. He finally posts a plea urging people to free the sad creature, "Please call now. Do not allow either office to tell you they don't have jurisdiction or that's in the courts. Both have official and unofficial authority. Demand they take a public position on the release of Happy the elephant."
11. It's wild that the @BronxZoo and the org that controls it @TheWCS have gone to these lengths to keep an elephant locked up. You would think they would have better things to do with donor money. All of these legal maneuvers started last year and Happy is still locked up.— Yashar Ali 🐘 (@yashar) June 6, 2019
After this tweet went viral receiving over 24,000 likes there emerged several comments urging the zoo to let go of Happy.
This is so sad. I used to really enjoy Bronx Zoo until one day I realized the animals were just walking around bored and depressed. It was watching one of the bears just walk in desperate circles. While not the preferred solution, I’m wondering why they can’t get a companion?— Alexa Chunis (@ChaChaChaChunis) June 6, 2019
There's not enough space for one animal, much less a companion. I stopped going to the @BronxZoo about ten years ago when I saw they offered elephant rides and had the giraffe in a space where her head almost touched the ceiling. It was so heart-breaking.— Lattitude (@Catseriously) June 6, 2019
I just cried reading this. In the most eloquent terms, the arguments for releasing this isolated elephant to a protected wildlife sanctuary are resounding in me as a member of the human among countless other species inhabitating our great planet.— Diane’s Voice (@dianesvoice) June 6, 2019