Joined: 22 Aug 2005
|Posted: Wed May 07, 2008 4:04 pm Post subject: Blessings for Winky
|Laura I cannot tell you how much it means to me to see your contributions again to this Forum. You were the one who first opened our eyes 3 years ago to Wanda & Winky's story. Winky had spent time in another facility in Sacramento and ended up with Wanda, her soulmate I do believe, at the Detroit Zoo.
The story is all still here and I will look for those threads and unlock them if need be. This story is monumental in that resounding statement made by the Detroit Zoo's Director, Ron Kagan a little over 3 years ago that made the world sit up and pay attention. It was under his directive the Detroit Zoo decided to permanently close their elephant exhibit purely on the grounds of ethical reasons. It is the first time in the history of animal husbandry that decision was reached and the animals well being took precedence over the money their display generated.
I will be forever respectful of Mr. Kagan for his decision which arose from his love for the animals. What an honor to see him make that happen and the blessings bestowed us all from Pat Derby the founder of PAWS (Ark 2000) who took Wanda & Winky into their domain. Thank goodness Winky's last years were spent in the freedom of that peaceful surround.
In that regard, here is a little update from the Daily Tribune (text & credit) so we do not lose the link information as time goes by:
Story Link: http://www.dailytribune.com/stories/040808/loc_local01.shtml
|PUBLISHED: Tuesday, April 8, 2008
By Catherine Kavanaugh
Daily Tribune Staff Writer
Winky, 56, was euthanized Monday because of complications related to severe arthritis. She was moved from the Detroit Zoo in order to provide a better quality of life.
Winky, one of the two elephants given up by the Detroit Zoo for a better life in a milder climate, was euthanized Monday at the Performing Animal Welfare Society Sanctuary (PAWS) in San Andreas, Calif., because of severe arthritis.
Winky, 56, spent the last three years enjoying the outdoors year round on a 100-acre preserve with room to roam, a whirlpool to ease aching joints and the company of her pachyderm pal, Wanda, 50.
"Winky's death was not unexpected, but it is heartbreaking nonetheless," Detroit Zoo Director Ron Kagan said in a statement. "We are comforted to know that her quality of life for the past three years was as good as it possibly could have been, and we're grateful to the staff at PAWS for the excellent care she received and the environment she retired to."
Arthritis in captive elephants is common and is believed to be a result of living in small areas.
In the wild - and at PAWS - elephants walk several miles a day to keep their joints and feet healthy. Pat Derby, a director and founder of PAWS, said Winky got in her daily walks and ate heartily on the green, lush grasses.
"She had the good life," Derby said. "She took baths, basked in the sun, played and threw dirt. Everybody loved her. That tells you what a wonderful spirit she was. It was a privilege to be with her."
Derby, who describes herself as "Winky's mom while she was here," believes the late elephant was one of the oldest in the United States.
On Sunday, Winky spent the day outside and got a popcorn treat, according to Kagan, who visited his former charges three times and called regularly to check on their condition.
Around 3 a.m. Monday, Winky gently slid to her hindquarters and could not get up, according to her night keeper, who immediately called for help. Urgent attempts were made to lift WInky, but she was unable to stand and support her back legs.
"We're glad Winky didn't go through serious suffering," Kagan said Monday. "She was able to walk every day because of the weather and she was in a better social and physical environment."
At the Detroit Zoo, Wanda and Winky shared a one-acre habitat for more than a decade. When the temperatures dropped below 40 degrees, they stayed indoors and stood on piles of soft dirt covering the hard, cold concrete floors of their stalls. They suffered abscesses, or pockets of infection, under their toenails most winters.
The cold weather took its toll on the elephants and the staff that tried to keep them healthy and comfortable. The zoo expanded the elephant habitat in 1998, but caring for Wanda and Winky remained a challenge.
In 2005, Kagan became the first zoo director in the United States to ever send elephants to a sanctuary for ethical reasons.
"There's no way to properly accommodate them here and we wonder if elephants should be in captivity at all," Kagan said at the time.
In doing so, Kagan butted heads with the American Zoological Association, which wanted the elephants sent to another accredited zoo instead of a sanctuary. However, the controversy was settled when it was determined Wanda may have been exposed to a virus called endotheliotropic herpes, and couldn't be kept near young elephants. A zoo transfer was ruled out for the pair and they took a 2,300 mile road trip in a massive trailer to California. They arrived April 8, 2005.
Kagan said the decision still makes him and the zoo staff proud.
"Any time we believe we've done something to help the welfare of an animal we feel good about it," he said. "We feel we made the right decision. I doubt either would be alive if they had stayed."
Wanda, 50, still is spending her golden years at the California sanctuary.
"She's not getting younger and she still has foot problems but she is well," Kagan said.
While at PAWS, Wanda also bonded with three other Asian elephants: Minnie and Rebecca, two retired circus elephants, as well as Annie, who survived a hunt in India and then was rescued from an abusive zoo in 1994.
"Because of Winky's age, we had been introducing Wanda to the others and she is out with them today." Derby said Monday. "She's a social butterfly."
For an update on Wanda, or to contribute to her care, or to make a donation in memory of Winky, go to www.pawsweb.org. Or, send a check payable to PAWS to the Performing Animal Welfare Society, P.O. Box 849, Galt, Calif. 05632.
Contact Catherine Kavanaugh at email@example.com or (248) 591-2504.
If there is anything any of you can do to help PAWS further their work (take a look at their wish list), or perhaps make a loving donation to honor Winky. I am sure Wanda will be most appreciative as she learns how to get along now without Winky. Blessings for Winky and for Wanda, our social butterfly
Thanks again Laura for the update. Never said some of these posts just might make us tears of love
"Open your hands to learn to receive in order that you may give, for it is in giving you receive."