Tormented Together: Buttonwood Zoo's Incompatible Elephants!

What happens when you imprison two stressed-out elephants? Buttonwood Park Zoo in New Bedford, Massachusetts knows the answer. The Zoo received our Hall of Shame Award on the 2016 Ten Worst Zoos for Elephants List for repeatedly ignoring chronic aggression between Ruth and Emily, two clearly incompatible elephants. We have an opportunity to tip the balance for these long-suffering elephants and give them their freedom, but we must act now.

Buttonwood has appeared on our annual list of the Ten Worst Zoos for Elephants seven times. It is flouting the Association of Zoos and Aquariums' elephant care standards that require "... elephants [be] physically healthy and socially well-adapted without aberrant behavior or excessive aggression within the social group." Emily, who is much larger, continues to show aggression towards Ruth. Sad video footage shows Emily ramming into Ruth.

Buttonwood has pledged to ditch its elephant exhibit when Ruth and Emily eventually pass away. Shutting down this cruel elephant exhibit is undoubtedly a step in the right direction, but condemning Ruth and Emily to further years of suffering is wrong.

Ruth and Emily's happy-ever-after is at a pivotal point. An election is underway in the city of New Bedford and a federal lawsuit has just been filed by the local advocacy group Friends of Ruth and Emily Inc. to get these long-suffering elephants released. The city of New Bedford's mayor has the power to order Ruth and Emily's release to sanctuary. We must convince the council that Ruth and Emily are worth saving!

Act now to give Ruth and Emily their freedom!

What you can do:



1) Call the New Bedford City Council and ask that your request to send Ruth and Emily to an accredited sanctuary be communicated to all eleven members.

City Council Office: 508-979-1455

2) Personalize and send our letter to email your comments to the entire New Bedford Council body.


Personalize and submit the letter below to email your comments to:
  • New Bedford City Council




Retire Buttonwood Park Zoo Elephants Ruth and Emily to Sanctuary!

Dear [Decision Maker],

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


*Required fields

If you take action and have not already registered, you will receive periodic updates and communications from In Defense of Animals.