Ruth, now 56 (+/- ) years old, was rescued once before. The USDA Animal Care division confiscated her from a private owner who rented her out for parades, parties and used her for "Safari Nights" at bars.
BPZoo claims that Ruth's trunk was paralyzed by her former owner. But this 1986 photo from the (New Bedford) Standard Times dated October 30, 1986 taken when she arrived tells a different story.
Ruth could raise her trunk and stretch it out in greeting when she came here.
Now she can't.
Although that happened years ago, Ruth still must live with the paralysis. An elephant uses her trunk to eat, to drink and for balance. Most importantly, an elephant uses her trunk for defense.
Ruth has been attacked by her exhibit mate Emily at least 29 times in the past 8 years, as far back as the BPZoo says it has records. In addition to being hit, bitten, rammed, tusked, and pushed down, Emily bit 6 1/2" off Ruth's tail in June of 2006.
Ruth cannot fight back.
And Ruth has been disciplined by keepers 12 times in 12 years from 2001 to 2012 for infractions as small as not wanting to move away from the water tank while she was drinking.
Ruth is often seen swaying back and forth, even when she is eating. This is a sign of mental suffering caused by lack of space and stimulation called "stereotypic behavior."
Elephants in the wild do not exhibit these abnormal behaviors. Instead, they can meet their biological needs by living in large family groups that roam for miles, grazing and exploring the fields and streams of their home.
These behaviors disappear when elephants are returned to the natural settings of sanctuaries.
For 26 years, Ruth stood for 16 hours a day every day on a concrete floor in the elephant barn. That caused painful arthritis in Ruth's ankle joints, and foot problems such as prolapses and
Also, Ruth has cracked toe nails, a dangerous situation for an elephant. Chronic infections caused from standing in her own waste while kept inside can cause osteomyelitis, a
painful and often fatal, bone disease.
In 2010 and 2011, these problems went untreated when the Zoo is short on funding and failed to buy glycoflex, an arthritis medicine that eases joint pain.
Foot disease and arthritis are the leading causes of premature death in captive elephants.
An elephant that cannot stand dies under its own weight.
Ruth suffers these problems because of the unnatural conditions in which she is kept, including cold winters that force her to spend days inside a small enclosure in a concrete barn with nothing