Houston Zoo Goes Ape Over Elephant-Abuse Claims

Turns out the Houston Zoo has plenty to say about In Defense of Animals naming it one of the "Ten Worst Zoos for Elephants."

"The list is an annual effort by In Defense of Animals to draw attention to their narrow agenda - to remove elephants from zoos," zoo spokesman Brian Hill tells Hair Balls. "The list is rife with claims that are not founded in scientific fact."

Hill not only defends the zoo's efforts to find a cure for the elephant endotheliotropic herpes virus -- which include supporting higher-institutions' research efforts to create reliable diagnostic tests for EEHV and establishing a post-doctorial research position in Houston to determine the best treatment for the virus -- but says the Houston Zoos belongs on a Top Ten Best Zoos for Elephants list.

"The Houston Zoo has an elephant-care team of eight people. That's one of the highest keeper-to-elephant rations of any AZA [Association of Zoos and Aquariums] accredited zoo in the nation," he says. "The Houston Zoo has one of the most modern elephant facilities of any AZA zoo - our new $5 million McNair Asian Elephant Habitat opened in March of 2008."

We know this much. We'd rather be an elephant at the Houston Zoo than the one in El Paso.

-- Cathy Matusow 

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