Bob Barker has long served as a voice for our elephants in captivity, a friend of elephants, if you will. As his 99th birthday (December 12th) approaches, we would like to show our appreciation of Mr. Barker’s lifelong commitment to helping animals (especially our wild elephants & our captive elephants) by posting this timeless interview of him sharing his compassion for animals and his more recent work to free zoo elephants. Bob Barker, you are a hero in our book. We, and the world’s elephants cannot thank you enough.
Host: “I think it is fair to say you have become legendary because of your philanthropy and and and devotion to the cause of of animals. When and where did that begin?
Bob Barker: “Well like millions of Americans, for probably millions and millions and millions of people in the world, I was just born with a a love of animals. I I loved animals from the day I can remember and I have had animals around me my entire life.“
“And, uh, as a matter of fact I feel sorry for people who do not enjoy animals because they miss so much of life. But as a kid I used to pick up strays and I would try to help, uh, an animal that was injured and I have… I have just always loved them.”
Host: “Do you recall a first zoo experience?”
BB: “Uh, I do not recall a zoo experience, uh I recall a circus experience.”
“They had the animals in tiny cages, uh, they could hardly pace but they could just… they would go this way and then this way and then this way. And I looked at them and I was shocked because I, I, I thought that there is something wrong, you know, he wants out of there.”
“And I asked my mother about it and she said “that is what they have to do and so on…’. And I,I just said I wanted to go home. I did not enjoy the circus at all and I never went to another circus.
Host: “And at what point did the zoos come under your purview?”
BB: “Well, it does not… you do not have to know much about animals to know that zoos are are not a very good place for animals. I, uh, became convinced early on that zoos are prisons for animals. And that, uh, no animal is in a zoo because it wants to be in a zoo.”
“Every animal in every zoo in the world would much rather be in its natural habitat so we will begin with that.”
“We are torturing them from day one. And they can say what they want, ‘oh, we take good care of our animals here, we love our animals here’.”
“If they loved their animals there turn them back into the wild. Of course, they have… they are probably ruined now, they could not. But but they they do not love love animals or they would not have them there.”
Host: “Maggie, when did when did you first learn of the of the situation of Maggie?
BB: “I have forgotten exactly when I learned of it but, uh, uh, when I did learn of it I went up to see Maggie… I went up to a press conference in, uh, in, uh, it was in Alaska and, uh, uh, I went up there for a press conference and went out and saw her (Maggie the elephant).”
“And I was with Ed Stewart of PAWS Sanctuary. And, of course, he is an authority on, uh, an international authority on elephants.”
“And, even I… I could see that, uh, that Maggie was not well. She was so thin that her hide was just hanging on her. And she had fallen twice and could not get up, uh, and before we went up there, she had… and, uh, you looked into her eyes and they were just hopeless.”
BB: “There was no hope in her eyes at all and, uh, I asked Ed…well, there were people around us and I did not want to then… but I asked him later, ‘What is the situation here? What do you think…?’, he said, ‘that elephant is dying. It is gonna be dead if we do not get her out of there. And, of course, we made every effort to get her out of there and fortunately we were successful.”
Host: “So, Maggie was a success story?”
BB: “Maggie is a huge success story.
Host: “At what point after that did you become informed about Lucy at the Edmonton Zoo?”
BB: “Oh, I would imagine it was probably a year or two after that that I heard about Lucy.
Host: “Was that an equivalent situation (to Maggie the elephant who was alone & cold in a zoo in Alaska)?”
BB: “It was equivalent and it is still equivalent, unfortunately, for Lucy, uh, she is all alone.”
“She has been there in Edmonton for thirty-some years (over 40 years in 2022). She, too, is slowly dying and, uh, has one thing after the other. She has a chronic foot infections and… that is the biggest killer of elephants in captivity, foot infections… and, uh, she is inside like 75% of the time in, uh, uh, a year.”
Transcribed and Bob Barker images from Creative Commons Video “Bob Barker on Zoo Elephants and the Roots of His Animal Activism” by The Fifth Estate (1)
Images: ElephantDatabase, Maggie the elephant & trainer at Alaska Zoo (2) & by cc wikimedia, Lucy Edmonton Valley Zoo 2010 (3)
(1) cc video “Bob Barker on Zoo Elephants and the Roots of His Animal Activism” by The Fifth Estate https://www.youtube.com/ watch?v=jSIfGO3y3NI
(2) ElephantDatabase, Maggie the elephant & trainer at Alaska Zoo https://www.elephant.se/database2.php?elephant_id=275
(3) cc wikimedia, Lucy at Edmonton Valley Zoo 2010 https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Lucy_(4747560747).jpg
Elephant Spoken Here Facebook
Elephant Spoken Here twitter @ESHelephants