Limba is Canada’s oldest elephant at over 50 years of age and resides at the Bowmanville Zoo. Last week, the zoo announced that Limba may have cancer, as they discovered a large tumor on her left side. The news was especially hard to swallow for local animal activists when they heard that, despite Limba’s condition, she was still expected to march in the Bowmanville Santa Claus Parade.
“The elephant is clearly sick, is having abdominal problems, and has been having problems eating,” said Dan MacInally, animal activist. “But if she’s in good spirits, they’re going to have her walk in the parade. It’s quite repulsive.”
Michael Hackenberger, owner of the Bowmanville Zoo, disagrees, saying that Limba is in good health and the grapefruit-sized growth on her side is being monitored by veterinarians. It is not yet known if the growth is cancerous. “If [Limba]’s bright and happy, you couldn’t keep her away [from being in the parade],” he said.
MacInally wants to see Limba relocated to a sanctuary in a warmer climate, such as California, where three other elephants from the Toronto Zoo went this fall.
“At what point is this elephant going to be allowed to retire? Is it going to work until it dies?” asked MacInally.
Hackenberger says Limba’s age is proof of the excellent care she is receiving while at his zoo. Part of Limba’s exercise is a walk through town several times a week, which would be similar to the parade route (minus crowds, music, etc).
Protesters originally planned to form a blockade to prevent Limba from entering the parade, forcing the parade organizers to ask the zoo to not include the elephant. The blockade has been called off, though, for fear it will hinder the activists’ efforts to free Limba. Instead, a protest has been planned for November 23rd, outside the Bowmanville Zoo.
“As much as they say the town loves her and her keepers love her – which I’m sure they do – I hope that they will take the opportunity now, if she is in this medical state, that they’re not going to make her do another Canadian winter,” said Nic Wilvert, who organized the upcoming protest. “Let her be with elephants of her own kind, where she finally gets to do what she wants to do.”
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