'Time is running out': advocates say Lucy's health deteriorating
After an annual review of Lucy’s medical records, advocates are now questioning whether the Asian elephant would survive being moved out of Edmonton.
ZooCheck Canada is one of several groups that has long lobbied to have Lucy moved from the Edmonton Valley Zoo to a wildlife sanctuary.
“We warned the city and the zoo a decade or more ago that left in that situation, her condition would continue to worsen. And that’s exactly what’s happened,” said Julie Woodyer, campaigns director at ZooCheck Canada.
Every year, the organization sends Lucy’s medical records to their own veterinarian for review.
“Essentially they are struggling with her pain management and that, according to our veterinarian, means that she is essentially being treated like a palliative care patient,” said Woodyer.
But the zoo’s director told CTV News it was “ridiculous” to say Lucy is dying.
“She’s an aging animal and aging humans take medication for their arthritis as well, so that’s what we do for her here,” Lindsey Galloway said.
Galloway said Lucy has been getting daily doses of a pain medication for the past three years.
“So it’s not new information,” said Galloway. “She’s been taking Tramadol, which is a type of obituate, but it’s a painkiller because she’s an older elephant and so she’s got aches and pains from arthritis.”
Records also show Lucy has fallen twice since October, something ZooCheck said is a result of living in captivity.
“The primary problems that result in elephant death in captivity are related to the foot and joint problems such as arthritis. These develop when animals live on hard substrates and in particular live in cold climates,” said Woodyer.
Now the same group that has pushed to have Lucy relocated is questioning whether time has run out.
“The big issue in respect to transport is if she were to go down in transport she would most likely die,” said Woodyer.
“We’re moving now extremely cautiously. We certainly would never advocate for anything that would create further harm for Lucy she’s already been through enough in her life.”
ZooCheck wants to complete an assessment of Lucy’s health using veterinarians of their choosing.
Officials at the Edmonton Valley Zoo said Lucy is assessed every fall.
“We’re interested in identifying who is the best to take a look at Lucy, so we’re absolutely open to understanding who is the best in the world to assess her condition and we’re not going to be guided by any preconceived ideas or outcomes that we have in mind,” said Galloway.
Officials said Lucy suffers from a serious respiratory illness which experts have told them would result in her death if Lucy was moved.
If that condition changes, Galloway said the city would be open to relocating Lucy.
With files from Nicole Weisberg...