PETA calling on Pittsburgh Zoo to end elephant program

PITTSBURGH — People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals is calling on the Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium to end its elephant program after the death of its baby calf.

STORY: Pittsburgh Zoo’s baby elephant dies

TIMELINE: A look at the life of the Pittsburgh Zoo's baby elephant

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PETA Foundation Associate Director of Captive Animal Law Enforcement Rachel Mathews released the following statement:

"This elephant's short life ended without the comfort of her mother or other elephants. The Pittsburgh Zoo has publicly glossed over the apparent true extent of the health crisis that this unnamed baby must have suffered -- and from taking her away from her mother to dropping its accreditation so that it can keep using weapons on elephants, its elephant program is a throwback to a crueler age."

The zoo said the calf, which was born prematurely, was rejected by its mother. The zoo took in the calf and she stopped eating while teething.

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The zoo released the following statement:

"We expect there will be criticism and accusations from those with limited information and no animal care experience. Sadly, these individuals seek to benefit their own agendas by misrepresenting the realities of a tragic situation and demanding action based on misinformation. Despite the outcome, we fully stand behind the informed and calculated decisions made, and the valiant efforts and commitment of the team of experts who cared for the elephant calf. The Zoo's keeper and veterinary staff demonstrate dedication to the care and welfare of animals every single day and always act in the interest of what is best for each individual animal in every unique situation."