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Off To Greener Pastures

After 41 years at the Philadelphia Zoo, Dulary the elephant will be leaving Monday.

Friends came to sign a going away card for Dulary, who is headed for retirement, because the zoo is closing its elephant exhibit, reacting in part to pressure from animal rights groups who believe they suffer in cramped enclosures, reports CBS News' Anthony Mason.

"The minute as an organization you stop listening to your audience, your guest, or any one of the groups that are out there, I think you run the risk of becoming irrelevant," said Vikram Dewan, president and CEO of the Philadelphia Zoo.

Philadelphia is not alone, adds Mason. Zoos in San Francisco, Detroit, Chicago and the Bronx Zoon have all decided to phase out their elephants.

Over the years, most elephants in the United States have been confined to housed and pens that today seem woefully inadequate for animals that, in nature, live in highly organized herds and migrate over great distances.

In the Tennessee sanctuary where Dulary is heade, reports Mason, she'll have more than 20 companions and 2700 acres to roam.

"Somebody's gonna like her and she's gonna like somebody, and she's gonna melt into that herd," said Andrew Baker, vice-president of Animal Programs at the Philadelphia Zoo.

The three remaining elephants in Philadelphia will also be sent away in the coming months, to a conservation center in Pennsylvania that will breed the animals for zoos taking a different approach. Instead of closing exhibits they're looking to expand and improve their elephant habitats.

The Los Angeles, Denver, Albuquerque, San Diego and Oregon zoos are among them. In Oregon, Mike Keele says soon they may offer they only chance for many Americans to see a live elephant.

"The Oregon Zoo wants to continue here with elephants in our region because we believe it really inspires our community to take action, meaningful action in creating a better future for wildlife," said Keele.

The departure of Dulary, after 41 years, is symbolic. Philadelphia's zoo is the nation's oldest. When it opened in 1874, its first exhibit was an elephant.

But by this fall, the only elephants left will be in the form of statues.

"I'm sad but I'm glad for the elephant," said Maxwell Segarnick, a zoo visitor, "because he'll be in a better habitat."

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