Feds probe elephant foot care after deaths

Feds probe elephant foot care after deaths »Play Video
PORTLAND, Ore. - The federal government is considering changing the way zoos take care of their elephants after animal rights activists complained that foot infections caused by small living spaces were killing the animals.

"They should be living out there full lifespan," said Matt Rossell of the group In Defense of Animals. "But they're not. They're dying prematurely because of these foot disorders."

Just three months ago, an elephant at the Oregon Zoo had to be euthanized due to a foot infection.

But zoo officials said that, just like humans, not all elephants live out their lives to the same age.

"If people carefully looked at statistics on elephants, they would see that the average age for elephants is in the mid-40s," said Mike Keele, an Oregon Zoo official. "Yes, they can live to be 80 but that's like saying people can live to be 120. Most of us won't."

The federal government could force zoos to change the way they treat elephants.

The Oregon Zoo's elephant keepers said they go to extra lengths to take care of their animals. All six at the zoo are healthy, they said.
 
The U.S. Department of Agriculture is accepting public comment on the issue.