End Happy's Loneliness at the Bronx Zoo

The Bronx Zoo announced in 2006 that it would close its outdated elephant exhibit upon the death of one or more of the elephants who are imprisoned there. Now, ten years later, Happy, the 45 year old Asian elephant, remains alone, isolated, and separated from the other two elephants, Patty and Maxine, because they do not get along. The outdated, inadequate Bronx Zoo elephant exhibit should close, and Happy needs to be sent to a sanctuary to finally have some peace and real companionship.

The Zoo, which is owned by the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), has kept Happy in solitary confinement for almost a decade and was named our Hall of Shame winner on our 2016 Ten Worst Zoos for Elephants List. Those who understand the complexity of elephant intelligence - and experts at WCS are surely among them - know that Happy's solitary existence lends a cruel irony to her name. Exceedingly bright and social as they are, elephants cannot be happy, nor healthy, in isolation.

More ironic still is the fact that Happy's lonely life is her "reward" for making significant contributions to science. In 2006, she proved that an elephant could recognize herself in a mirror during a research experiment. Self-awareness was a cognitive characteristic previously attributed only to humans and a handful of other species, until Happy's now often-cited achievement in this area.

In the most tragic of ironies, now that Happy has proven she’s self-aware, she is being denied the most basic and essential of psychological needs for elephants: any reasonable resemblance of elephant companionship.

Despite WCS's stated commitment to respect, accountability, and integrity, its treatment of Happy is a blind spot that needs immediate attention. The WCS can do better for her, and it should! You can read more background on Happy here.


What you can do:



Urge the Wildlife Conservation Society to uphold its own high standards by releasing Happy to a sanctuary.

1) Make a quick phone call to the Wildlife Conservation Society's general number and politely request that Happy be retired to a sanctuary. You can leave a message if unable to speak to a person there.

718 220-5100

2) Submit our letter below.

Personalize and submit the letter below to email your comments to:
  • Cristián Samper, PhD, President and Chief Executive Officer - Wildlife Conservation Society


(Valid street address is required - P.O. Boxes cannot be used*)

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Uphold WCS's Commendable Values; End Happy's Lonely Life at the Bronx Zoo

Dear [Decision Maker],

[Your Name]
[Your Address]
[City, State ZIP]


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