Happy the lonely Elephant on World Elephant Day
by Roxanne Delgado
In 2006, Happy passed the “mark test”, the highest level of mirror self recognition, when she touched the “X” marked above her eye with her trunk upon her reflection in the mirror. The researcher Dr. Plotinik published the findings and Happy became a viral sensation. Elephants were now part of the 8 species group that can recognize their image in a mirror, an indication of self-awareness. Also The Bronx Zoo announced after this study it would close it Elephant Exhibit after the last 3 remaining resident elephants die. (Happy, Maxine, Patty).
Nine year later today on World Elephant Day, Happy is 44 years old, isolated and with limited mobility in the Bronx Zoo. As in the picture above, Happy’s pads are scrubbed to prevent foot and/or joint problem which is uncommon for wild Asian Elephants that walk average 15 miles a day.
Happy is isolated from the two alpha females Maxine and Patty who killed Happy’s brother Grumpy in 2002. Also Tus, another Elephant died of unknown causes in 2002. A young Elephant Sammy was later companion with Happy in 2002 but died 4 year later of liver disease. Three Elephants deaths within 4 years attributed to the Bronx Zoo decision to close its Elephant Exhibit after the remaining 3 elephants die. Happy was isolated again and alone for over 10 years . Elephants live in groups in the wild and its is psychological warfare on such a self aware being as Happy.
In early 2014, I spoke to Rosemary Deluca, Assistant Director at wildlife Conservation Society at a community meeting held in the Bronx House. I handed her the New York Post story about Happy and spoke about Happy. I mentioned IDA (In Defense of Animals) named the Bronx Zoo the top 10 worst zoos for elephants. Her initial response was whether I wanted Happy to be killed. I clarified that I wanted Happy released to a sanctuary. Ms. Deluca stated no and “the elephants are their animals and belong to the Zoo.: This is the fundamental issue for non human animals who have no rights to their own life or freedom despite their self-awareness.
Today on World Elephant Day, I ask the Bronx Zoo (part the Wildlife Conservation Society) to release Happy to a sanctuary to live her remaining 10-15 years of life. After close to 40 years living in the Bronx Zoo, Happy the lonely elephant deserves a happy ending.
New York Post Article about Happy
Here is a Video By “Think Elephants International “on Dr. Plotnik”s study that demonstrated self-awareness in Asian Elephants.