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 Click here to see a VIDEO of Maggie






 The board of directors are the people

who are keeping Maggie in a solitary, deep freeze,

letters should be polite and succinct:

Mike Barker

Bill Borchardt

Marnie Brennan

Vince Curry

Jim Dokoozlan

Dorothea Lovejoy

Steve Noey

Sammye Seawell

Dick Thwaites

Joe Van Treeck

Alaska Zoo
4731 O'Malley Rd.
Anchorage, AK 99516



Here are addresses to write to:

 Alaska Zoo:

  (Mr. PAT LAMPI , Zoo Director)
klarson@alaskazoo.org  (Katie Larson, education director)

Address: 4731 O'Malley Road, Anchorage, AK 99507
Contact Us: Phone: (907) 346-2133, FAX 907-346-2673

President Brennan (very important to write to these people!!!)
President of the Board of Directors
Alaska Zoo
4731 O'Malley Road, Anchorage AK 99516
Fax 907 346-2673

Mayor of Anchorage (the zoo is unfortunately NOT public owned, but letters to him can´t hurt asking him for help)

Mayor Mark Beggich
Mayor's Office
632 West 6th Avenue Suite 840
Anchorage, Alaska 99501

Fax 907 343-4499

Local media (especially IMPORTANT - we must get the story in the media again)

Anchorage Daily News

Letters to the editor (All submissions must include a daytime phone number and address)
Letters Anchorage Daily News, P.O. Box 149001
Anchorage, AK 99514.
For phone and fax numbers, see here:


email: newsroom@adn.com
or use the online form:

other media:
go to the "feedback" button on the right bottom on the page

Being a very social creature, Maggie suffers in tormenting loneliness, please help...



A 9,000-Pound Fish Out of Water, Alone in Alaska

Published: January 9, 2005

ANCHORAGE - She played in the snow. She played the harmonica. She snacked on hot dog buns and hay, chewed on birch bark and snorted.

Still, it was impossible to answer the question that is causing so much consternation: is Alaska's only elephant happy?

Maggie, the African elephant who has resided at the Alaska Zoo here since 1983 - a creature of the tropics amid snow leopards and polar bears - is, after all, said to be rather moody and prickly.

But whether Maggie, a 22-year-old native of Zimbabwe, is depressed because she is spending another dark and freezing winter in Alaska has been the subject of a long and charged debate, here and across the country.

Facing growing demands that she be moved to a warmer climate, where she could socialize with other elephants and get much more outdoor exercise, Alaska Zoo officials decided to keep her in Anchorage for now but came up with an unusual proposal to improve her exercise situation: They plan to build this 9,120-pound elephant a treadmill.

"I just don't know where you are going to put her where she's happier than she is here," Rob Smith, Maggie's trainer and manager for the last seven years, said on a recent frigid afternoon at the zoo, as Maggie stomped around her concrete barn.

The zoo has been under fire from national animal rights groups and some Alaska residents, who, in atypical acceptance of outside interference, have called for a boycott of the zoo until Maggie is moved south. Other zoos across the country, including those in San Francisco and Detroit, facing similar criticism and internal debates about the treatment of elephants in captivity, have closed their elephant exhibits in recent months, saying they were relocating the animals to warmer climates and to wide-open sanctuaries where they could roam for miles, as they do in the wild.

The plan here is to complete the treadmill, a first-of-its kind $100,000 elephant exercise machine, by the summer. It would be 20 feet long and 5 feet wide, according to the plans, with a conveyer belt strong enough to allow Maggie, who is kept indoors here during most of the long winter, to get her blood flowing and move her creaky joints, zoo officials say.

A donor has already paid for the treadmill, the officials say, part of a roughly $500,000 "elephant house" improvement plan that would double the space in Maggie's 1,600-square-foot barn and add other amenities. Maggie, who has been trained to play the harmonica and to paint in watercolor on cardboard with her trunk, would have to be trained to use the treadmill.

If it keeps Maggie in shape, preventing the arthritis and foot infections that have plagued other elephants in the nation's zoos, then remaining in Anchorage is best for her, zoo officials say. Maggie has a history of not getting along with other elephants, and is easily made anxious by change, so the risks in moving her from "the only home she has known" outweigh the benefits, they say.

Mr. Smith contended, as did other zoo officials, that when the Alaska Zoo had two elephants - Annabelle, an Asian elephant, died of a foot infection in 1997 - Maggie was miserable and unusually aggressive.

But animal rights groups and outside elephant experts say it is cruel to keep an elephant alone, particularly a female who is meant to socialize with other elephants. Worse than Anchorage temperatures, which can dip to 20 degrees below zero in the winter and require Maggie to spend much of her time indoors, they say, is her lack of elephant companionship.

"A lone elephant is clearly not a good thing," said Ron L. Kagan, director of the Detroit Zoo, which last month decided to move its two arthritic elephants, Wanda and Winky, to a sanctuary in California because officials decided the cold Detroit weather and the lack of space at that zoo was not healthy.

"The fact that she's without elephant companionship - we shouldn't fool ourselves that somehow humans are the equivalent," said Mr. Kagan, who said he had seen Maggie in Anchorage a few years ago. "I'd say that's a very challenged elephant."

The Detroit Zoo has decided to close its elephant exhibit permanently. The San Francisco Zoo sent one elephant, Tinkerbelle, to a sanctuary in November and plans to send its last remaining elephant, Lulu, there too, officials there said. In December, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors has approved a law that would require the city's zoo to have a 15-acre habitat before the elephants can return.


"People's expectations of a zoo are to see animals like lions and tigers and elephants," Mr. Kagan said. "But also, I think that now the expectation is to only see elephants that are thriving."

Nicole Meyer, elephant specialist for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, which has made Maggie a cause célèbre in recent months, derided the Alaska Zoo's decision to keep Maggie as "selfish" and said the treadmill plan was a "truly ridiculous concept."

"The fact that she is in solitary confinement as a social animal is unacceptable," Ms. Meyer said. "She is in a completely inappropriate environment for an elephant. You certainly do not find elephants in the Arctic in the wild." Even elephant experts who support keeping the widely popular elephant exhibits open, for educational reasons and for conservation of the vulnerable species, say they do not support keeping Maggie alone and are skeptical of the treadmill.

"People use treadmills," said Mike Keele, deputy director of the Oregon Zoo and chairman of the elephant species survival program for the American Zoo and Aquarium Association, which accredits zoos in North America. "I guess it's an interesting concept. But I'm not sure what the message is - for visitors to come up and see an elephant on a treadmill and somehow make a connection with nature? That's a tough one for me."

Officials here say the Alaska Zoo has not sought accreditation from the association, which strongly recommends keeping no fewer than three female elephants in a zoo.

Tex Edwards, director of the Alaska Zoo, said officials here had been anguished during a yearlong debate over what to do about Maggie, and he acknowledged that among the many experts consulted there was great concern about her being alone. But Maggie is in good health, Mr. Edwards said - her doctor said she had a pocket of fat along her belly but had no other health concerns.

"I think we're trying to do the right thing," he said.

Mr. Edwards said the zoo planned to keep Maggie in Anchorage for at least three years, but that by the end of that time it would evaluate whether the treadmill and the renovations to her barn had improved her quality of life. Then, he said, they will decide if the elephant should leave Alaska.

Contact info for the NY Times:

Look at this site

From the "letters to the editor" page:
Want to voice your opinion? Write to letters@nytimes.com  to send a Letter to the Editor of The New York Times to have your comments considered for publication in the printed newspaper (please see our Letters to the Editor help page for details). Or visit our Forums to voice your view on the Web.

Title of the article was:
A 9,000-Pound Fish Out of Water, Alone in Alaska
Published: January 9, 2005


Editorial: Alaskans rally 'round elephant
January 12, 2005 ED0112A
Minneapolis Star Tribune

There are African elephants and there are Asian elephants, but there is only one Alaskan elephant. To animal-rights groups, the national zoo-accreditation group -- and, probably, most anyone who thinks a modern zoo should not condone suffering -- that's one too many.

Still, the Alaska Zoo in Anchorage is trying to hold onto Maggie, a full-grown female from Zimbabwe who has been on her own there since a companion, an Asian female, died of a foot infection in 1997. By way of rejoinder to its critics, the zoo management is enlarging the concrete barn in which Maggie must spend the long sub-Arctic winter, and also plans a first-of-its-kind, $100,000 exercise treadmill. No kidding.

Now, the idea of watching a 4½-ton elephant work out on a treadmill might strike you as funny. One can imagine flanking the machine with murals of the African savannah, or perhaps placing a projection TV at the far end, displaying images of an attentive male.

But in reality, where Maggie has the misfortune to live, this approach to caring for animals -- especially one with an elephant's social needs -- is sickening. The treadmill is not about easing her arthritis, as the zookeepers say, or helping her lose some of the fat she has put on. It's about holding onto a 20-year star attraction, no matter what.

The Alaskans are also bucking a praiseworthy trend in which zoos that can't properly house their elephants are setting them free in special sanctuaries, where they can roam widely in something like their intended climate. The Detroit Zoo has permanently closed its exhibit; San Francisco's is moving its two elephants to sanctuary and, by city ordinance, can't get any new ones unless it provides them with a 15-acre habitat, probably impossible.

Room to roam outdoors, on natural surfaces and in a suitable climate, is an important requirement of the American Zoo and Aquarium Association, the industry's accreditation body (it helps to prevent foot infections, a chronic problem of elephants confined on concrete). But so is social grouping: AZA urges that female elephants be kept in groups of three or larger; solitary confinement is "inappropriate."

The AZA should not be mistaken for a radical animal-rights outfit. Rather, it is a professionally staffed, industry-supported organization which helps maintain the commercial viability of zoos by ensuring that their programs meet sensible standards of animal health and well-being. Indeed, of the 10 U.S. zoos that activists have spotlighted for their shabby treatment of elephants, all but Alaska's are AZA-accredited (as are this state's Minnesota, Como Park and Lake Superior zoos, none of which has an elephant exhibit).

So far, the Anchorage operation has declined to seek accreditation -- which may not prove, but certainly permits, an unfavorable conclusion about its regard for professional standards. But it may have more trouble keeping a deaf ear turned to the many Alaskans who, despite their reflexive resentment of interference from the world they call Outside, are organizing a boycott to force Maggie's parole.

To contact the Minneapolis Star Tribune, see here:

Go to "contents" and then "letters to the editors. There is a online form to submit letters available and also a fax number.

article details:
Editorial: Alaskans rally 'round elephant
January 12, 2005 ED0112A
Minneapolis Star Tribune

The more, the merrier.

Senator Lisa Murkowski
322 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510

Senator Murkowski's web form

Senator Ted Stevens
522 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510

Senator Stevens' web form


Another address to add to the list is the Anchorage Press, a weekly open-minded publication. Address:

Anchorage Publishing, Inc.
540 E. 5th Avenue
Anchorage, Alaska 99501.

Here is a recent in letter to the editor printed in the Press:







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