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The Natural Bridge Zoo (NBZ) in Virginia has held Asha under deplorable conditions for decades and denied her the companionship of other elephants, which is devastating for such a highly social animal. Join PETA in urging proprietors Karl and Debbie Mogensen to prioritize her well-being by retiring her to an accredited sanctuary.
The conditions at NBZ are wildly inadequate for Asha. In the off-season, she's exposed to frigid temperatures, snow, and ice and routinely confined to a barn that has damp concrete flooring—conditions that are harmful to her welfare and can lead to debilitating arthritis and deadly foot problems. In the summer months, she's forced to give rides for hours in the sweltering heat and humidity while at the mercy of her handler. In 2013, a Virginia state trooper reported witnessing a handler at the roadside zoo jab a bullhook into her mouth eight times while yelling obscenities at her. Bullhooks are sharp weapons resembling fireplace pokers that are used to beat elephants and force them to perform.
Asha is often spotted rocking back and forth, displaying what Karl Mogensen admitted was stereotypic behavior—an indication of her profound deprivation. In July 2017, an eyewitness documented that she had cracked and overgrown toenails, which are likely painful, but she was still forced to give rides. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) had previously cited NBZ for failing to provide her with appropriate care, yet the facility has apparently made no meaningful changes to ensure her welfare.
NBZ is currently under investigation by the USDA. It has already had its state license suspended once and its federal license suspended twice and has been ordered to pay more than $22,000 in penalties over the years.
Asha has endured a life of loneliness and deprivation at NBZ. Please speak up for her today and help ensure that she spends the remainder of her days at an accredited sanctuary where she'll have the space, companionship, and care that she deserves.