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Help Jenny the elephant retire in the U.S.

Lawton_Jenny, the elephant, has made national headlines, and a woman at the heart of her story is coming home to Lawton.  The 32-year-old elephant currently lives at the Dallas Zoo and is ready to retire.  However, people are in disagreement about where she should live in her remaining years. 

Activist Beverly Perry hopes to help Jenny retire in the right facility.  She says that Jenny's life hasn't been easy - she suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder that stems from time spent in the circus.  "We feel like Jenny's miserable," said Perry.  "She may look fine because she's got her nose in a bucket getting a piece of fruit, but you don't know the kind of suffering that takes place [at the circus].  Although Jenny has spent the past 22 years at the zoo, Perry says the elephant is quite sensitive.  "She mutilates herself, she won't eat, and she has a history of aggression - a lot of that brought about by noise, or if there is anything unusual in her surroundings," said Perry.  "It's upsetting to her."

Perry says details of Jenny's life are still emerging.  "From what's come out in the media recently, she had some abuse situation in the circus."  She says she empathizes with Jenny because of an experience that continues to haunt her.  "I'd had a really terrifying experience in Mexico myself, when I worked there," she said.  "I'd see some abuse of elephants in a circus, and it was enough to give me nightmares for about 8 years."

When Perry heard that the Dallas Zoo intended to send Jenny to the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) accredited "African Safari" in Mexico for retirement, she fought the plan.  "The Africam drive-through safari has cars that will drive very close, and Jenny's medical records show she is extremely afraid of motorized vehicles," said Perry. 

Along with fellow activists, Perry says the safari is also too small.  They prefer Jenny live in an environment where she can walk 20-50 miles per day, as elephants do in the wild.  "Jenny weighs 9,000 pounds.  When an elephant stands on hard ground for long periods of time, it degenerates their joints, and they get very terrible arthritis conditions, and a lot of foot rot, and infections that go to the bone," said Perry. 

There is an elephant sanctuary in Tennessee where activists say Jenny would be happier, and Perry wants other activists from Oklahoma to join her in her fight to relocate Jenny there.  "The habitat will be most like the freedom that she would enjoy in the wild," said Perry.  "There's a chance that she could live a lot longer, or not - maybe the damage is done.  But at least for the last part of her life she could live in peace - she could actually choose who she bonds with."

If you are interested in helping Perry's cause, email concernedprofessionalsforjenny@yahoogroups.com.

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