Endangered Species Act (ESA)

The Friends of Ruth & Emily filed a citizen's complaint under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), a federal law that is intended to protect endangered species from harm, harassment, injury and death (called "takes"). The City of New Bedford has held Ruth & Emily captive at Buttonwood Park Zoo for over 30 years. The Complaint outlines the injuries they suffered and the six counts by which we believe the City violates the ESA.


After watching two more attacks on Ruth by Emily this past fall, the Friends filed the Complaint in federal court. Both elephants are held on a space that clearly does not meet their needs, despite the recent expansion.


The City filed a Motion to Dismiss, citing a Local Rule of Civil Procedure that does not allow a corporation to represent itself.


The Friends' president and founder,  Joyce Rowley, was later substituted as the Plaintiff on February 15, 2018.

Complaint filed 9.21.17
Adobe Acrobat Document 1.5 MB

Preliminary Injunction

Then, Ruth's right ear started to slough off and turn black. The Friends received records from the city on her condition, and filed a motion for a preliminary injunction.


Note: Unfortunately, Exhibit 3 was too large to load, but the documents contained in Exhibit 3 are loaded individually here.



Memorandum in Support
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Exhibit 1
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Exhibit 2
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Exhibit 3-1
9.20-11.8.17 RUTH.pdf
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Exhibit 3-2
10.21.17 IDEXX R.pdf
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Exhibit 4
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Exhibit 5
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Renewed Preliminary Injunction

On June 18, 2018, Rowley filed a renewed preliminary injunction on behalf of Ruth.

Memorandum of Law
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Exhibit 1. Declaration of Dr. Julia Allen
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Exhibit 2. Photo of Ruth's ear and facial injury
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Exhibit 3. Clinical records of April 7, 2018
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Exhibit 4. Clinical records of May 28, 2018
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Legal Standing to Sue

Plaintiff Rowley's Brief
On July 17, the Court ordered briefs on whether Plaintiff Rowley's standing to sue under the Endangered Species Act within 30 days, or to concede that Rowley did not have standing.
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U.S. Court decision on Rowley's Legal Standing
After both sides briefed the Court, on September 25, 2018, the Court found Rowley had legal standing. However, the Court consolidated the preliminary injunction with an expedited trial on the merits.
Order 34 Standing trial.pdf
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Appeal to the First Circuit Court of Appeals--September 27, 2018

When the District Court determined Rowley had legal standing to bring the lawsuit, it also consolidated the preliminary injunction with the trial on the merits. That meant prolonging the time to get Ruth the help she needs to survive, and it prevented hearing the merits of the injunction. Rowley appealed to the First Circuit Court of Appeals for an interlocutory appeal. (Case No. 18-1961)


On November 3, 2018, the Court issued a perfunctory "show cause" order to determine whether the appeal should be heard.

On November 7, Rowley responded. But having no further action by the Court of Appeals, Rowley filed a motion to expedite on December 7, 2018.


Meanwhile, winter set in, and Ruth was seen less and less. Emily, who has direct access to a sunny side of the yard, is able to access it--although the yard is barren, cold and has little in common with Asian elephant habitat. Many times, Emily merely stands in her doorway and sways.

First Circuit Order.pdf
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Response by Rowley.pdf
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Motion to Expedite by Rowley.pdf
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