USDA seeks input on captive elephants

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The Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service is requesting comment on foot care for captive elephants.

In a Feb. 2 petition, In Defense of Animals claimed that captive elephants suffer from chronic foot and joint problems because of inadequate space and living conditions. The group asked APHIS to issue an interpretive rule or policy to clarify conditions adequate for captive elephants.

In response, APHIS is requesting input on whether specific standards for captive elephants are necessary in the Animal Welfare Act. In particular, APHIS seeks responses to the following questions:

  • What are the causes of arthritis in elephants?
  • What, if any, foot care practices have been used on captive elephants to maintain healthy feet?
  • What substrates are best for captive elephants? Are there any substrate conditions that promote foot problems?
  • Do captive elephants require a certain amount of exercise (ie, walking) to maintain healthy feet?
  • What industry/professional standards are available for elephant care and husbandry?
  • Are there any other health or care issues related to elephants that should be specifically addressed in the AWA standards?

Parties may submit comments until Oct. 10 electronically by visiting, searching under Agency for APHIS, then looking under Docket ID for APHIS-2006-0044; or by mailing four copies to Docket No. APHIS-2006-0044, Regulatory Analysis and Development, PPD, APHIS, Station 3A-03.8, 4700 River Road, Unit 118, Riverdale, MD 20737-1238.

Information is available from Dr. Barbara Kohn, Senior Staff Veterinarian, Animal Care, APHIS, 4700 River Road, Unit 84, Riverdale, MD 20737-1234; phone, (301) 734-7833.