HONOLULU (KHON2) — The Honolulu Zoo is facing a lawsuit that seeks the release of the zoo’s two Asian elephants to an elephant sanctuary.

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The petition filed this week by the Nonhuman Rights Project, a civil rights organization for animals, demands the elephants Mari and Vaigai be freed from what the group calls poor and unnatural living conditions at the zoo.

The organization said it would provide funding for the transfer of the animals to the sanctuary where the two elephants would be given a healthier lifestyle including more space to live.
Mari and Vaigai could even have the chance to be released back into the wild, according to the Nonhuman Rights Project.

“Both elephants have also been exhibiting stereotypical behavior that your bobbing, your swaying, your rocking. And what that basically means is the elephants environment is so impoverished and so deficient as to what they need to thrive that they’re actually suffering brain damage as a result of this.”

Jake Davis, Nonhuman Rights Project staff attorney

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A statement from city officials said “the city has not been served with this petition, so we cannot comment at this time.”