She was brought over from Thailand with six other elephant calves in the 1970s.
Editor's note: This article was originally published on May 22, 2020. It has since been updated.
It's a well-known fact that humans are social beings. We enjoy being with our family, our friends, our partner, and our loved ones. It is that bond with each person that allows us to be happy and know that we're not alone.
But we aren't the only species that are social creatures. Elephants are one such species of animals that are content being with their herd. If left in isolation, they grow depressed. So to keep them without that family of theirs is cruel. And in a zoo in New York, there is one poor mammal who's been dubbed the "world's loneliest elephant," reported Mirror UK.
Her name is Happy. Yet despite the cheery name, she embodies nothing of the word as she's been on her own for the past 17 years. She was brought over from Thailand with six other elephant calves in the 1970s and lived with her friend Grumpy for 25 years at the Bronx Zoo. However, in 2002, Grumpy was put to sleep, and ever since then, Happy has been on her own. And the pictures released of her are heartbreaking.
Journalist Yashar Ali brought Happy's plight to the attention of the world after his thread on Twitter went viral. Having seen the photographs, animal rights activists took up arms and campaigned for her to be released from the zoo. Their petition involved having her sent to an animal sanctuary where for the rest of her life, she can enjoy being surrounded by other elephants instead of being isolated.
He posted the caption, "The @BronxZoo and @JimBreheny are holding onto Happy for two reasons: money (elephants are a proven revenue generator) and if they admit that Happy would be happier in a sanctuary they know if they give in, they may be forced to send other animals to sanctuaries." He then went on to explain the reason such an act is considered cruel.
1. Elephants are just like us. They celebrate births & mourn deaths. And they grow depressed when they're isolated. They require a companion or herd in order to be happy— Yashar Ali 🐘 (@yashar) June 6, 2019
Meet Happy the 🐘
Happy is 48 & she lives at the @BronxZoo
For the past 13 years, Happy has lived all alone pic.twitter.com/s9fXg3KX54
"In the wild, female elephants grew up and live in matriarchal herds. They're raised by their siblings, aunts, and cousins and they live with them for the rest of their lives. When elephants are isolated they grow depressed... just like human beings. It's cruel to isolate them," he said.
7. So what is Happy's life like? She is kept alone in an indoor elephant stable unless she's on display (alone), for visitors to the @BronxZoo to view when they're on the monorail.— Yashar Ali 🐘 (@yashar) June 6, 2019
Here is a video taken of Happy in her exhibit...there is no reason for her to live like this. pic.twitter.com/ooNNwCPyZk
You might wonder how Happy knows that she's alone and sad, but Ali clears that up. She was the first elephant to pass a "mirror self-recognition test," something that only dolphins, humans, and gorillas had done before. This means that at some level, she's self-aware. Over 814,000 people have signed an online petition "to end her solitary confinement" on Change.org.
Sadly enough, she's not even the first elephant to be isolated despite researchers and zoo authorities knowing that elephants are social animals. Flavia, an Asian elephant, lived at Cordoba Zoo in southern Spain since she was three. But for 43 years, Flavia never saw another elephant, according to animal welfare group PACMA. Alone, she passed away on March 1st, 2019, at the age of 47, reported the Insider.
Cover Image Source: Twitter