Zoo Elephants Die Much Younger Than Those in Wild

By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 11, 2008 6:59 PM CST
This undated handout photo provided by the journal Science shows an adult female, her daughter and their calves in natural free-range in Kenya.   (AP Photo)
camera-icon View 2 more images

(Newser) – Elephants in the wild live up to three times longer as those in zoos, a new study says. The six-year report by British and Canadian scientists is sure to fire up the debate between animal rights activists and zoos over the well-being of the animals. African and Asian elephants tend to die at ages 17 to 19 in zoos, while their counterparts in the wild live 42 to 56 years, the Telegraph reports.

"We suspect this study has implications for all zoo elephants," said a lead researcher from the University of Guelph in Canada. The zoo elephants tend to suffer from stress and obesity, says the report, which will be in the journal Science tomorrow. The scientists called for stricter rules on which zoos can import and breed elephants.