Where Ruth Lives

Lack of Space

Ruth shares the tiny 12,000 s.f. exhibit with Emily, an Asian elephant who is not related to her. That means they only have 6,000 s.f. of space each.


Due to the zoo's schedule, the elephants are brought inside each day at about 4:30 p.m. and come back out at 8:00 a.m. the next morning.


This means that Ruth has spent at least 16 hours a day inside--over half her life for the past 28 years-in a concrete building. In the winter, that climbs to 20 - 24 hours per day. Elephants must be monitored for hypothermia when temperatures drop below 40° F.


Inside the concrete barn, one elephant is kept in the 1,200 s.f. area, the other is penned up in an area 800 s.f. There is no drinking supply available to them for that entire 16-hour period. The elephants must be kept separate because of the aggression by Emily against Ruth.

Cold Climate

Elephants are a subtropical species and must be monitored for hypothermia when temperatures drop below 40 degrees Fahrenheit.The BPZoo is located in a northern temperate zone.

This means that the 16 hours a day that Ruth spends inside climbs to 20 to 24 hours in the winter.

In 2014, New Bedford got over 55" of snow. In 2015, that climbed to 96" of snow--8 feet--the most snow in the city's history.

During the winter of 2015, four foot snow drifts blocked the barn door for days at at time, preventing access for the elephants. This also meant that the dirt floor in the barn could not be changed so Ruth was standing in fecal and urine soaked flooring.