According to this article in the BBC, elephants die earlier in captivity than in the wild.
Well, duh! Elephants are highly intelligent herd animals with close-knit kinships, and need a lot of space and intellectual stimulation. They get stressed out and depressed quite easily. Wouldn't you want to die sooner if you were stuck with monotonous days and boring routines, and perhaps even abuse, with no way out?
After seeing elephants in the wild in both South Africa and Namibia, I can't stand seeing elephants in zoos. In fact, it really bothers me to the point of boiling rage. Don't even get me started on the work elephants in Asia, for example on the streets of Bangkok. Although that Burmese project that was mentioned in the article seems interesting. Like all wild creatures, elephants need to live their natural life...
Anyway, I can't end this blog without showing off one of my favorite elephant photos. I took this last September when I was in Namibia; it's from the Damaraland region and these are desert elephants ("regular" African elephants adapted to desert life). If they look kind of angry, it's because they are. They attacked us not too long after the photo was taken. I'll write the whole story in the travel blog when I finally get to it ;-)