(ZOOS/ANIMAL WELFARE) If you’re familiar with the critically acclaimed documentary Blackfish, then you’re aware of the dangerous psychological repercussions that animals in captivity acquire as a result of unnatural imprisonment. Just like Tilikum, the whale featured in Blackfish, a 41-year-old elephant named Patience killed her trainer, John Bradford, yesterday at a cruel elephant exhibit in Springfield, Missouri which she had been confined to for many years.

After being captured from the wild, she was shipped from zoo to zoo throughout the U.S., but not before her 18-month-old son was taken from her. With the combination of abuse, neglect, and confined environment she’s had to endure, it’s no surprise that this tragedy took place. Read on for more information regarding Patience, animals in captivity, and how this unfortunate accident could have been prevented. — Global Animal

Patience is an Asian elephant who has lived in captivity at the Dickerson Park Zoo since 1990. Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Christina Matthies, The PETA Files

PETA is calling on Dickerson Park Zoo in Springfield, Missouri, to shutter its deadly and cruel elephant exhibit after an elephant attack this morning left senior zookeeper John Bradford dead.

A Legacy of Misery

[quote style=”boxed” float=”right”]“I find it extremely sad that animals are living out their lives in environments so out of keeping with their instincts.” — Andre Malan, journalist[/quote] It’s no surprise that the elephant, Patience, lashed out after years of stress-inducing, unnatural imprisonment. Patience had been taken from her family when she was captured from the wild. She was shipped to the U.S. and then moved from zoo to zoo. She is now confined to a tiny 1.5-acre enclosure, unable to travel more than a few yards, let alone the 30 miles a day that she might have walked with her mother, aunts, and other family members, had she not been kidnapped from her home and deprived of their company.

Not only did Patience have her freedom taken from her, her son was also stolen from her when he was only 18 months old. Elephants are sensitive and careful mothers, nursing their children until they are at least 5 years old. Males stay with their mothers until they reach adolescence, and females stay with their mothers for life. Patience doesn’t know that her baby died six months after being shipped off to Six Flags.

Culture of Death

John Bradford is one of many who have died in Dickerson Park Zoo’s substandard and unsafe elephant exhibit. Of 10 baby elephants who have been born at the zoo, only two are still alive today. Many died after contracting EEHV, a deadly herpes virus that is virtually unknown in the wild and has been linked to the stress of captivity. And at least one was abused: The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) fined the zoo for abusing one elephant with a bullhook—a sharp metal-tipped weapon that resembles a fireplace poker and is routinely used to keep elephants “in line.”

Bradford’s death was wholly preventable, had the zoo left Patience with her herd as nature intended. It also would not have occurred if the zoo had handled Patience only in protected contact—the safer, more humane management system used by all reputable sanctuaries and zoos. PETA is calling on the USDA and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to investigate the incident.

You Can Help

Contact Dickerson Park Zoo and demand that it close its elephant exhibit and send Patience and the three other remaining elephants to a reputable sanctuary. Never go to a zoo or circus in which elephants are abused for “entertainment.”

More PETA Files: http://www.peta.org/thepetafiles/2013/10/11/Dickerson-Park-Zoo-Elephant

More Stories on Captive Elephants:

Bob Barker’s Elephant Showcase Showdown

Give The World’s Loneliest Elephant A Better Home

New Home For Retired Zoo Elephants

Flight Delayed For Barker’s Elephants

Canadian Air Force To Transport Bob Barker’s Elephants

Beatles Legend Bargains For Elephant’s Freedom




  1. My sister’s husband works at Dickerson Park. This is beyond sick. They HAVE NOT taken any animals out of the wild. The person who wrote this article is clearly not all there in the head to come up with such a psychotic story like this. And before you start saying “he deserved it”, why don’t you ask yourself how you would feel if someone said that about your loved one.

  2. As a zoo veterinarian who has worked at the Dickerson Park Zoo, I take umbrage at this completely bizarrely twisted report from PETA. I wish I could support PETA but the lies and fantastic things concocted make it difficult to believe anything you have to say. The conservation program for endangered species through accredited zoological parks such as DPZ are what is keeping interest in preventing the extinction of numerous species. The elephants at this park are allowed to walk through the zoo before it opens in the morning to browse from the trees and be moved from exhibit to off exhibit areas to give them diversity and rest from the public. They have close bonds with their individual keepers and all animals at the park loved John Bradford and followed him around for his attention. BTW the elephants in your picture portraying Patience is an African herd, not Asian.

  3. Shame on you Global Animal!!!
    According to you: “With the combination of abuse, neglect, and confined environment she’s had to endure, it’s no surprise that this tragedy took place”.
    That is complete BS and you know it. How dare you twist this tragedy for your own agenda and ignorance in such a one sided story. What set off this incident IS UNCLEAR!!!!!
    In your world we should close down all zoos and deny our current and future generations awareness and appreciation of these critically endangered animals which humans will be wiping off the face of the Earth within the next ten years.
    You hypocrites at Global Animal better not have any pets or use any products or medicines being tested on animals and shame on you again for such a biased one sided story.
    Here are links to more accurate reporting: