By Dan Shapley
A renewed call to end captivity, after the deaths of three elephants
After the high-profile deaths of three elephants in city zoos around the country this month -- in Seattle, San Diego and Birmingham, Ala. -- activists who have long criticized the conditions for elephants at zoos are getting a new airing. Zoos offer a way for people to connect with wild and exotic animals in unique ways that can inspire an urban audience -- inspire donations that help preserve species, and inspire new generations of conservation-minded children. Many zoos are at the forefront of conservation efforts around the world, and in many cases zoos are the only organizations spearheading the protection of species in remote wilderness. But elephants, animal rights groups contend, just have no place in zoos. Without sufficient space for the big animals to roam, or the correct habitat, they say, any benefit for a human audience is outweighed by the cruelty of the animals' living conditions, according to a story in the June 25 Los Angeles Times.