On the AZA’s website, they boast that AZA zoos holding elephants gave $1.1 million to in situ elephant conservation in 2012.  They further claim that AZA members have given more than $1.4 million to the International Elephant Foundation, since 1998.  All in all AZA spends $160 million on all wildlife conservation a year, or $0.89 per person, with 180 million visitors to zoos every year.

That seems like a lot of money, until you find out how much just six zoos have spent on their elephant exhibits in the last 5 years alone [x][x][x][x][x][x].  These zoos have spent or are planning to spend more than $240 million solely to enhance visitor experience for a population of animals that cannot even sustain itself in captivity.  At least one of those zoos, LA Zoo, has faced harsh criticism in court for the treatment of their elephants.  A judge described LA Zoo’s elephants’ lives as ”empty, purposeless, boring and occasionally painful,” and the zoo’s managers as “delusional” with “shocking gaps” in their elephant knowledge.

Meanwhile, in the wild, populations of elephants in Africa are being killed faster than they are being born and at this rate may be extinct by 2020.  South Africa has one of the largest populations of elephants in Africa and their national parks’ anti-poaching budget is $7.5 million, Kenya Wildlife Service is struggling to protect Kenya’s 30,000 wild elephants on $25 million a year.  Imagine what wild elephants could do with $240 million?  

More about the lives of zoo elephants, [x][x][x].  

Don’t buy a ticket.