In zoo parlance, they’re known as charismatic megafauna. We’re talking lions, tigers, and other large creatures. They are the big-ticket beasts and the reason, historically anyway, why people have come to the zoo. Where there is megafauna, the thinking goes, there will be crowds.
That’s partly what made Ron Kagan’s decision so shocking. The executive director of the Detroit Zoo announced in 2004 that he was voluntarily sending his zoo’s two Asian elephants to a California sanctuary, where the land was plentiful, the weather temperate, and the elephants could roam. The reason, Kagan said, was simple. To paraphrase: The zoo, despite its best efforts, was essentially ruining the elephants’ lives.
Returning wildlife to the wild is part of Born Free USA's mission.
Goodbye, Jumbo: The identity crisis of the modern zoo
The Boston Globe