“We will be very careful in evaluating these animals,” Baker said.
As for confinement in small pens, Baker said “there couldn’t be anything further from the truth.” She said Jackson spends all but about one hour each day outdoors.
“He’s doing quite well,” Baker said. “We bring him in to feed him and make sure he’s OK.”
Baker acknowledged the zoo’s use of bull hooks, but she said animal-rights organizations misrepresent that tool’s purpose.
“It’s simply an extension of the arm,” she said. “It just provides a little bit of extra safety space when you’re working with the animal.”
The activist groups likely will not buy those arguments.
They argue that Philadelphia Zoo leaders do not have a coherent plan for the elephants, and they’re lobbying for the animals to instead be relocated to one of two “accredited natural habitat elephant sanctuaries” in California and Tennessee.
But Baker said zoo administrators continue to make plans to move the elephants to Somerset County.
“Providing the animals with a safe, wonderful environment to live in really is our first priority,” she said.