What We Do

Our Work

There is tremendous demand among animal protection organizations for high quality legal and other professional services. The Animal Defense Partnership is positioned to meet that demand. Our goal is to be the go-to pro bono legal and professional service provider to the animal protection community. We free our clients from dealing with legal matters that often consume too much of their time and budgets, thereby unlocking resources to be put to better use on the animals’ behalf.


Drawing on our combined decades of legal experience, we strive to protect the interests of abused animals principally on three fronts:

Photo Courtesy of  Jo-Anne McArthur / We Animals
Photo Courtesy of Jo-Anne McArthur / We Animals

1. Providing legal services directly in support of our clients' animal protection work to enable them to maximize the resources they devote to protecting animals.

ADP assists its clients on a range of legal issues, including non-profit compliance; fiscal sponsorship; litigation avoidance;  fundraising; state registrations; entity organization and structure; communications; employment best practices and disputes; contract drafting, review and negotiation; human resources; intellectual property protection; and social media and rights clearance.


When specialized experience or a more substantial presence is needed, we work closely with several first-tier global law firms, as well as individual lawyers at smaller firms, that support our mission through their robust pro bono programs. Having access to these superb firms - under ADP’s direction and with our lawyers’ active participation throughout - allows us to provide our clients in the United States and around the world with the highest quality counsel.

Photo Courtesy of  Jo-Anne McArthur / We Animals
Photo Courtesy of Jo-Anne McArthur / We Animals

2. Providing professional consulting services to address our clients' internal organizational and operational needs and goals.

Our organizational consulting work covers, as examples, board/executive/employee relationships and dynamics, business and strategic long- and short-term planning, leadership mentoring, internal and external communications, and crisis management. We are also developing a network of accountants and financial consultants that will permit us to offer these services as well.

3. Pursuing ADP's own projects and initiatives.

Photo Courtesy of  Jo-Anne McArthur / We Animals
Photo Courtesy of Jo-Anne McArthur / We Animals

ADP also identifies and pursues on a selective basis causes and issues in its own name or in collaboration with other established animal protection groups. Our most recent undertaking, The ADP Weeping Elephant Project, is progressing well, and will, we firmly believe, bring about meaningful change. As we grow, we anticipate initiating more litigation and related efforts in furtherance of our core philosophy and purpose.

The Weeping Elephant Project

Photograph courtesy of Jo-Anne McArthur/We Animals

"The Indian elephant is known sometimes to weep. Sir E. Tennent, in describing these which he saw captured and bound in Ceylon, says, some 'lay motionless on the ground, with no other indication of suffering than the tears which suffused their eyes and flowed incessantly'."

--Charles Darwin, The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals

“The keeper of the Indian elephants positively asserts that he has several times seen tears rolling down the face of the old female, when distressed by the removal of the young ones.”

--Charles Darwin, The Zoological Gardens


There are solitary elephants suffering in misery all over the country in zoos, circuses, sham sanctuaries, and “petting zoos.”


Typically the captive elephants are quite poorly treated and cared for, housed and transported in deplorable conditions, prone to developing chronic health issues, and left to languish in deep emotional despair and relentless physical agony. This neglect, trauma, and abuse shortens their life expectancy substantially compared to elephants in the wild, which, under the circumstances, may stand as a stroke of unintended mercy.


These elephants are most often separated and taken from their mothers as babies, shipped in terror across the world as freight, and enslaved in a desolate existence with no other elephants or sources of comfort contact, often for the duration of their abbreviated lives. Baby elephants may be "trained" into compliance through a process known as “the crush,” which can include being restrained and beaten for several weeks. Their solitude is heartbreaking, and can look like this: Elephant Holding Her Trunk For Comfort.


These circumstances are particularly devastating for elephants, who, as we now know, are complex, intelligent, and intensely emotional and social beings. That we do this is an atrocity.


The Animal Defense Partnership has engaged in various projects seeking to release isolated captive elephants and place them in accredited elephant sanctuaries, either in California’s Performing Animal Welfare Sanctuary or Tennessee's The Elephant Sanctuary.


Our first efforts were on behalf of Nosey, who for more than three decades was confined and exhibited under awful conditions and subjected to inhumane treatment and egregious regulatory violations while housed in Florida and traveling throughout the country. In Defense of Animals (IDA) and Save Nosey Now (SNN) approached ADP to help their campaign to release Nosey. Thanks to the tireless work of all the organizations, the Alabama District Attorney seized Nosey while she was in the state, placed her in Tennessee’s The Elephant Sanctuary, and brought charges against her owner. After a bench trial, the court declined to return Nosey, who now lives at the sanctuary in peace.


ADP is involved in a similar effort for Asha, an elephant housed at Natural Bridge Zoo in Virginia. Together with IDA, SNN, One World Conservation, and Anna Katogyritti of Jane Goodall’s Roots and Shoots Program, ADP filed a complaint with the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (DGIF), seeking to have Asha seized and placed in an accredited sanctuary. The complaint was submitted to the Virginia DGIF and local law enforcement, along with extensive evidence of the zoo’s deplorable record of violations and a compelling preliminary assessment by Toni Frohoff, Ph.D., a leading wildlife behavioral scientist with IDA who specializes in elephants and other mammals in captivity and in the wild.

Photo courtesy of Jo-Anne McArthur/We Animals

ADP has also joined with IDA to pursue release for Happy, a forty-four-year-old female elephant housed at the Bronx Zoo.  Happy became famous in 2006 by passing the self-awareness test, in which she recognized herself in a mirror. For close to a decade, Happy has lived alone, separated from the zoo’s two other elephants. Happy was captured as a baby, likely from Thailand, in the early 1970s, along with six other calves, possibly from the same herd. The seven elephants were shipped to the United States and dispersed among various zoos and circuses, with Happy ending up in the Bronx in 1977. IDA has named the Bronx Zoo on its well-respected 10 Worst Zoos for Elephants list for four years in a row, largely based on Happy’s isolation. Our FOIL request for Happy's medical records was denied, which decision ADP has appealed on IDA's behalf.


We are expanding this program and will continue to collaborate with these and other organizations and advocates to extricate elephants from similarly awful circumstances around the country.