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Shatner engages Edmonton mayor over elephant's fate

Another celebrity has thrown his Hollywood clout behind animal-rights activists who want the Edmonton Valley Zoo to move Lucy, a 33-year-old ailing Asian elephant, to a sanctuary.

Canadian-born actor William Shatner, best known for his portrayal of Captain Kirk on Star Trek , sent a letter to Mayor Stephen Mandel requesting that the beloved pachyderm be retired to "better circumstances."

"In a way, it's none of our business - Edmonton can capably take care of its own. Yet, in a larger sense, these extraordinary animals are everybody's responsibility," he wrote.

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"So I humbly ask you to allow Lucy to retire to better circumstances than at the Edmonton Zoo … she's old, feeble, and many of us know how that feels," he added.

The letter dated Aug. 31 was circulated Tuesday by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, which thanked the star for "adding his voice to this campaign to help a noble animal who cannot speak for herself."

Earlier this year, Bob Barker, former host of The Price is Right game show, said Lucy was being "tortured" in her current accommodations. He is scheduled to meet with city administrators in Edmonton next week to outline his concerns.

Elephants are social animals, but, since 2007, Lucy has been the lone elephant at the zoo, where she has lived for more than three decades. The zoo said she was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis at an early age and has breathing problems, which are caused by a dental issue and further aggravated by stress. A crowded tooth fell out last week.

Dean Treichel, supervisor of animal care and operations, has repeatedly said that any type of move would seriously endanger Lucy's health and that Edmonton remains her best home.

Brad Stromberg, the mayor's spokesman, said while Mr. Mandel appreciates people sharing their opinions on issues, he does not comment on individual letters.

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About the Author
Dawn Walton

Dawn Walton has been based in Calgary for The Globe and Mail since 2000. Before leaving Toronto to head West, she won a National Newspaper Award and was twice nominated for the Michener Award for her work with the Report on Business. More

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