April 24, 2020

RESPONSE TO PETITION

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The welfare of our animals, staff, and visitors is top priority at the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium.

The Pittsburgh Zoo maintains the prestigious Humane Conservation certification and is accredited by the Zoological Association of America (ZAA) as well as the Alliance of Marine Mammal Parks and Aquariums (AMMPA). The Zoo is also regulated by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the US Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS).

The Pittsburgh Zoo is committed to upholding the highest standards of welfare and conservation set by these organizations.

Unfortunately, the notorious animal rights group In Defense of Animals is targeting zoos as a whole, including some of the best zoos in the country, with a petition to remove elephants from zoos.

The petition includes fabricated and sensationalized statements including:

▪  “As the coronavirus pandemic continues to cause global havoc, the public is growing increasingly aware of the potential health threats caused by animal exploitation.”

FACTS: Per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), some coronaviruses that infect animals can sometimes be spread to people, but this is rare. The current outbreak of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is primarily spreading from person to person. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/daily-life-coping/animals.html

To ensure the safety of the animals and the staff during this time, our Animal Care Specialists have been wearing gloves and masks. In addition, we have continued to deep clean all areas of the property. 

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▪  “TB can be even more infectious than the COVID-19. Yet zoos have resisted rules to contain the disease.”

FACTS: The Zoo is able to conduct frequent testing and monitoring of both our animals and human staff. Our veterinarians conduct exams multiple times a year. They also vaccinate the elephants. TB tests are conducted annually. Blood work is done weekly on younger elephants as well.

In addition, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that the TB incidence in humans in the United States has drastically decreased by 29.96% over the last decade. https://www.cdc.gov/tb/statistics/tbcases.htm

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▪ “At the Pittsburgh Zoo, we documented elephants stepping in their own urine and throwing feces. Unsanitary conditions such as these can lead to chronic illnesses, shortened lifespans, and disease proliferation.”

FACTS: The Animal Care Specialists at the Pittsburgh Zoo are dedicated to providing a safe and healthy habitat for our elephant herd at the Zoo and at the International Conservation Center (ICC). Our elephant habitats are absolutely not unsanitary. They are cleaned daily.

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▪  In an article about this petition, In Defense of Animals said, “… we must acknowledge that zoos are a threat to human and animal lives… stop risking human and animal lives by ending breeding and imports, shutting down elephant exhibits...”

FACTS: Zoos like the Pittsburgh Zoo are critical to the survival of endangered and threatened species throughout the world.

Over the past decade, the Zoo has supported over 245 conservation projects in 61 countries through its PPG Conservation and Sustainability Fund. The Zoo’s conservation work ranges from research, rescues, rehabilitations, and propagation.Currently, the Zoo partners with and supports wildlife organizations around the globe including:

-Victoria Falls Wildlife Trust (VFWT)
-The International Elephant Foundation (IEF)
-Manatee Rescue & Rehabilitation Partnership
-Cheetah Conservation Fund
-The Pan African Sanctuary Alliance (PASA)
-SECORE
-The Giant Armadillo Conservation Project (GACP)
-And many more! https://www.pittsburghzoo.org/conservation/

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Thank you for your continued support of the Zoo!