An animal rights group says the San Antonio Zoo will have to defend its continuing display of Lucky the Elephant to a federal judge, News Radio 1200 WOAI reports.
The Animal Defense Fund is suing the Zoo, claiming the continued display of the 57 year old elephant, which is one of the most beloved attractions at the Zoo, violates the Endangerd Species Act.
"The Endangered Species Act is in place to protect animals in captivity and the wild from mistreatment and abuse," said Stephen Wells, the Executive Director of the Animal Legal Defense Fund, which filed the lawsuit. "We are committed to enforcing laws designed to protect animals to their fullest."
A federal judge in San Antonio ruled this week that the case must go to trial this October, rejecting the Zoo's request for a summary dismissal.
Judge Xavier Rodriguez said the ALDF provided sufficient facts to warrant a trial on whether the Zoo is harming or harassing Lucky by 'confining her in a habitat that lacks adequate protections fom the sun and has an unnaturally hard ground.'
Lucky has lived nearly her entire life at the San Antoio Zoo, arriving back in the early 1960s, and becoming one of the symbols of the Zoo. The Zoo says Lucky is being treated warmly and humanely, and the Zoo just acquired two new companion elephants for lucky, Nicole and Karen. One of the complained in the ALDF's original case was that Lucky being housed alone is in violation of the social nature of Asian elephants.
A dispute over holding elephants in captivity recently forced the 140 year old Ringling Brothers Barnum and Bailey Circus to cease operations permanently.
PHOTO COURTESY: ANIMAL LEGAL DEFENSE FUND