Group Files Complaint Against Houston Zoo

An animal rights group has filed a complaint with the Federal Government against the Houston Zoo. The group In Defense of Animals says the zoo is knowingly breeding elephants that will contract the herpes virus and most likely die. Bill Stamps has more.
The Houston Zoo may be popular to some, but the group In Defense of Animals has been unhappy with it for some time. The group has accused the zoo of breeding elephants the zoo knows will contract the herpes virus and die. Now they've filed a complaint with the federal government. This is campaign manager Catherine Doyle.

"It's grossly irresponsible to continue breeding elephants knowing that any elephant born at the Houston Zoo faces a very high risk of disease and a horrific death. Although we known that a number of herpes viruses are known to be present in elephants, researchers have repeated noted that it hasn't resulted in an outbreak of disease in either wild African or Asian elephant populations."

Of the fourteen baby elephants born at the Houston Zoo, six have died of the virus. The zoo and other scientists have maintained that they need to keep breeding in order to test the animals and find a vaccine.

In a statement the zoo calls IDA an extremist group whose agenda is to get rid of zoos. The Houston Zoo says no group of elephants in the world is monitored as closely or tested a routinely as theirs. Nevertheless, the animal rights group doesn't see it that way.

"With elephants you're dealing with highly intelligent and self aware individuals and again ethically, it's just wrong to expose them to this virus that causes a horrific death."

Doyle believes researchers should work with what they have instead of breeding more baby elephants.

"There are enough elephants out there basically that I think scientist can continue without having to subject more innocent calves to dying this horrific death from the elephant herpes virus."

In its complaint with the Department of Agriculture, IDA is asking the government to say breeding of elephants in zoo's that have the herpes virus is a violation of the Animal Welfare Act. They also filed complaints against zoos in Seattle, St. Louis and Oklahoma City.