Supreme Court won’t hear wildlife protection charity’s appeal in case of Lucy the elephant

A wildlife protection charity that wants to move an elephant out of the Edmonton Valley Zoo will not get a chance to argue its case in front of Canada’s highest court.

According to an entry on its website on Thursday, the Supreme Court of Canada dismissed an application by Zoocheck Canada Inc. to appeal a lower court’s decision in the case of Lucy the elephant.

Zoocheck had been fighting to have Lucy moved to what it believes would be a more appropriate home than she has now. In 2017, the charity asked for a judicial review of the Alberta government’s decision to renew the Edmonton Valley Zoo’s permit for 2017-18.

The charity had wanted a court to determine if the zoo’s treatment of Lucy violated a section of the Animal Protection Act.

Prior to the group attempting to have its case heard at the Supreme Court, a judge threw out Zoocheck’s challenge and said it failed to meet the public interest threshold for revoking the permit.

On Thursday, Zoocheck posted a statement about the Supreme Court’s decision on its Facebook page.

“It seems that the arguments about how Lucy is suffering as a result of the failure of the government to enforce the zoo standards won’t be heard in court… at least not at this time,” the statement read.

“The issue is that the courts say that no one can bring forward a case for Lucy and since the enforcement agencies are happy to put on their blinders, Lucy will be left in a state of suffering at the Valley Zoo.

For years, animal rights activists have been calling for Lucy to be moved, arguing she is forced to live in a cramped space, that Edmonton’s cold weather is not a suitable environment for her and the fact that Lucy is alone.

In 2016, the Edmonton Valley Zoo was deemed the fourth-worst zoo for elephants by the organization In Defence of Animals. It was the seventh year in a row the zoo was on the group’s annual list. In 2017, the Edmonton Valley Zoo received a “dishonourable mention” in relation to Lucy. The zoo was not on the 2018 list.

Lucy, 44, has lived at the Alberta zoo since 1977. The zoo has long argued that moving her to a sanctuary would be harmful to her and could even lead to her death.

The African elephant has been diagnosed with both dental and respiratory issues. Lindsey Galloway, executive director of the Edmonton Valley Zoo, has argued that moving Lucy would be unethical. However, she has said the zoo plans to make changes to her enclosure and routine to make her as comfortable as possible.

Earlier this month, an examination done by the University of Calgary School of Veterinary Medicine also determined that Lucy should not be moved to a sanctuary.

Lucy’s case has been raised by animal advocates from around the world, most notably by former TV game show host Bob Barker.

–With files from 630 CHED’s Kirby Bourne

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