by John M. Simpson.
We recently reported on a case in which an animal rights group, the Nonhuman Rights Project, sought habeas corpus relief for three Asian elephants maintained in a zoo in Connecticut. The Connecticut Appellate Court affirmed the lower court’s judgment and ruled that the plaintiff had no standing because the elephants themselves had no standing.
It was reported yesterday that one of the animals, Beulah, had passed away at the age of 54. While the death of Beulah is a sad occasion, it should be noted that her reported age places her at the upper end of the longevity spectrum for African and Asian elephants. According to the Asian elephant webpage of the Smithsonian’s National Zoo & Conservation Biology Institute:
Longevity of elephants is not well understood, and most of the available information comes from African elephants. Recent data suggests that African elephants rarely live to the age of 50. Evidence suggests that Asian elephants typically live into their mid-50s, but there is not enough consistent data available on wild Asian elephants to accurately estimate their lifespan. The longevity record for an Asian elephant in human care is 86 years. With an estimated birth year of 1948, Ambika is the third-oldest Asian elephant in North America.
In the meantime, on September 12, 2019, the Connecticut Appellate Court denied the Nonhuman Rights Project’s motion for reconsideration en banc.