Updates

Due Diligence Report: Options for Chai and Bamboo

Zoocheck, an organization that has assessed the housing and husbandry of captive wildlife for 20 years, delivered a report recently to Seattle’s Mayor and City Council. This exhaustive report, Due Diligence Report: Options for Chai and Bamboo, examines all Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) and Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries (GFAS) accredited facilities in the U.S. that hold Asian elephants. Link to report below.

Chai in barn stall

Chai

Our review of this report’s findings shows that none of these AZA-accredited zoos exceeds the conditions found at Woodland Park Zoo (WPZ). The report validates what Friends of Woodland Park Zoo Elephants has asserted for years: only a GFAS accredited sanctuary can provide Bamboo and Chai with care for the rest of their lives in an environment that will allow them to heal from the harm caused by their lifelong zoo confinement. Science and the zoo industry’s own statistics shows that elephants in zoos die young and suffer from captivity-induced conditions.

Bamboo

Bamboo

None of these zoos can give Bamboo and Chai more space per elephant than they have now. None can provide open space or pastures for foraging. Many of these zoos are in cold climates that would force them to be locked up in a tiny, barren barn stall longer than they are now. All appear to have hardpan ground and hard barn floors. About a third of these zoos still use the bullhook, an archaic method of managing elephants through pain and fear. This is important to know because if Bamboo or Chai don’t integrate with other elephants in a zoo, or for any reason, they can be moved to a decrepit zoo.

One only needs to look at Watoto’s death to understand what happens to an elephant confined in atiny zoo display. When her keepers came to work on the morning of August 21st, 2014 they found her down. Her advanced arthritis and lameness caused by a lifetime of standing on hard substrates, and a lifetime of lack of movement, made her so debilitated that she couldn’t raise herself. As is the case in most, if not all zoos, Woodland Park Zoo does not have 24/7 monitoring. (The Elephant Sanctuary in TN and PAWS in CA both have 24/7 monitoring.) If Watoto had been found sooner and if the Fire Department with a crane had been called in, she might be alive today.

Check out this video on the issue of sending WPZ’s surviving elephants to a sanctuary vs. another zoo

We hope Woodland Park Zoo management and the Zoo Board will not allow Bamboo and Chai to suffer and die the same fate as Watoto.

We hope they will study this Due Diligence Report and have empathy for these intelligent, far-ranging elephants. This means choosing a sanctuary for Bamboo and Chai’s retirement from beingon display. Let’s not allow Bamboo and Chai to suffer and die without ever having roamed the wooded acres of a sanctuary. Let’s keep the pressure on Seattle’s Mayor and City Council to use their authority to act. Go to our You Can Help page

Read the Due Diligence Report

Sign the Petition: Captive Elephants in Seattle Need Your Help TODAY!

Well over 100K people have already signed the petition to send WPZ’s surviving elephants to a sanctuary, rather than another cramped zoo.

Please sign the petition right away!

On a Festive Note

Thanks to all our supporters over the years!  If you weren’t able to show up this week to sing holiday carols at City Hall, enjoy these beautiful renditions of three of our custom carols as performed by our talented friends: Michelle Wolfe Paul, Susana Brizuela and Marcus Yetter.  Bravo!

And please take a moment to write to City Council encouraging them to send Chai and Bamboo to the sanctuary.

YouTube Preview Image YouTube Preview Image YouTube Preview Image

Opinion: Don’t send Woodland Park Zoo elephants to same fate at another zoo

Guest columnist Lyn Tangen writes an opinion piece for the Seattle Times urging Seattle to send WPZ’s two surviving elephants, Chai and Bamboo, to a sanctuary instead of another cramped zoo. Here’s an excerpt:

As a member of the Woodland Park Zoo Elephant Task Force, I reviewed the zoo’s elephant program. I strongly disagree with the zoo board’s decision to send Chai and Bamboo to another zoo. Chai and Bamboo should go to an elephant sanctuary.

In a sanctuary such as PAWS (Performing Animal Welfare Society) in Northern California, elephants have many acres in which to roam without restraint. No one can seriously doubt that elephants that have 15 or more acres to roam are better off than elephants crammed into a 1 or 2 acre exhibit in a zoo.

Standards for elephant sanctuaries established by the Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries are in many cases more stringent than the Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA) accreditation standards for zoos. Sanctuaries are licensed and monitored by the same governmental agencies as zoos.

Years ago, Bamboo was sent to the Point Defiance Zoo to be with more Asian elephants. She did not integrate into the existing herd and was returned to the Woodland Park Zoo. If Chai and Bamboo are sent to another zoo, they could end up living just as they do now, a herd of two in crowded space — or worse, separated and bounced from zoo to zoo.

Read the full article in the Seattle Times

Councilmember Sawant, a true advocate for WPZ elephants

Seattle Councilmember Kshama Sawant is truly a hero for the elephants and all animals.  She is thanking YOU!  Please take the time to thank her for her support:  Kshama.Sawant@seattle.gov and please cc your email to the other city members so they know what you expect of them:  to use their authority to secure the retirement of Bamboo and Chai to PAWS sanctuary:
Jean.Godden@seattle.gov, Sally.Bagshaw@seattle.gov, Tim.Burgess@seattle.gov, Sally.Clark@seattle.gov, Bruce.Harrell@seattle.gov, Nick.Licata@seattle.gov, Tom.Rasmussen@seattle.gov, Mike.OBrien@seattle.gov

Here is Councilmember Sawant’s letter:

Dear Sisters and Brothers,

Congratulations on your victory closing the elephant exhibit at the Woodland Park Zoo, and on your continued struggle to see the elephants sent to sanctuary rather than to another zoo. Your organizing and persistence are truly inspiring.

Given your activism around this issue, I thought you might be interested in my recent interview for an online animal rights publication. I discussed your struggle, animal rights, and the importance of unity in the broader fight for social justice. I am interested in hearing your ideas.

Solidarity,

Kshama Sawant

Citizens and press barred from WPZ Board meeting

wpz_meeting_lockoutThanks to everyone who came out in the freezing weather to Woodland Park Zoo’s Dec. 2nd Board meeting—and to those who couldn’t come, for emailing. About 75 advocates came to the “public” board meeting but only 14 were allowed in even though there were some empty seats and the room was filled to the 100 person capacity. Those who spoke gave heartfelt, informative pleas to retire Bamboo and Chai to a sanctuary NOT another zoo.

Media were also banned from entering the “public” meeting. Nothing was mentioned about Bamboo and Chai which is no surprise as nothing was mentioned about Watoto’s passing (into freedom) at the last board meeting.

WRITE Seattle’s Mayor and City Council to use their authority to retire Bamboo and Chai to PAWS sanctuary!

BornFreeUSA: What Is the Difference Between Elephants and Zoos?

Check out this superb article on BornFreeUSA.org featuring the WPZ elephants

No conservation function is served by imprisoning elephants. Ivory poachers and ivory buyers are the problem; imprison them. There is nothing that an elephant in an enclosure can teach you that can’t be better learned many other ways”

We agree and are advocating for Bamboo and Chai to go to PAWS sanctuary—not another zoo.

Response to Woodland Park Zoo’s scheme to send Bamboo and Chai to another zoo

Sri at St. Louis Zoo

Sri in her cage at the St. Louis Zoo. This is where Woodland Park Zoo sent her.

Woodland Park Zoo announced it would be closing the elephant exhibit. We commend them for taking this action as the exhibit is inadequate and our climate is unsuitable for elephants. That’s the good news. Unfortunately they want to send Bamboo and Chai, the two surviving elephants, to another zoo. This is not commendable nor is it in the elephants’ best interest.

Bamboo and Chai have lived in a tiny zoo display since they were taken from their mothers as babies. They deserve space and peace in a sanctuary—in a warm climate.

Once Bamboo and Chai leave Seattle, we will have no ability to control what happens to them. They could be moved again, and again. Moving elephants around like furniture is not uncommon in the zoo industry.

Deborah Jensen, President and CEO of Woodland Park Zoo said that Bamboo and Chai would be “relocated together to an Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) facility that shares our commitment to animal health and welfare and conservation through education, and provides viewing access to the animals.”

Deborah Jensen is obviously not aware that PAWS Arc 2000 sanctuary in California engages in conservation and education. PAWS’ commitment to the health and welfare of the elephants in their charge is obviously greater than Woodland Park Zoo’s since PAWS monitors their elephants 24/7. We are not aware of a single zoo that monitors elephants 24/7. Had Watoto, who the Zoo euthanized in August, been monitored she might be alive today.

PAWS has a fundamental difference in philosophy about allowing animals to be viewed. Once an animal lives at PAWS, their life is given back to them and they no longer live on display.

The Mayor and City Council have the authority to approve or disapprove the disposition of the animals in the zoo. We are asking that they use their authority to require that Bamboo and Chai go to a facility accredited by the Global Federation of Sanctuaries like PAWS—anything less goes against science and their constituents’ values.

Woodland Park Zoo is in Violation of Federal Regulation over Elephant Care

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

November 3, 2014 (Seattle, WA) – The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has determined that Woodland Park Zoo is in violation of an Animal Welfare Act (AWA) provision regulating the housing of elephants outdoors.

According to a September 9, 2014 inspection report, the USDA found evidence that the Zoo violated the AWA by failing to ensure that elephants have “access to shelter during inclement weather to afford them protection and to prevent their discomfort.” With this violation, the Zoo has violated a provision of the Operating Agreement with the City of Seattle, which requires that the Zoo “shall care for all Zoo Animals in accordance with all federal, state and local laws and regulations.”

The inspection report notes that Zoo staff acknowledged that elephants are routinely locked outside without access to shelter during rain. The report also calls attention to the inadequate and dysfunctional configuration of the Zoo’s elephant exhibit, stating that “only one elephant at a time may be offered access to both the barn and the outdoor enclosure.” As a result, one elephant is locked in a cage in the barn in solitary confinement and one elephant is locked outside—both up to 17 hours a day.

According to the USDA report, Zoo staff stated that they intend to build a rain shelter in a year—two years after the Zoo’s own self-appointed Task Force recommended minimal improvements to the Zoo’s elephant exhibit, which included the addition of rain/wind shelters to protect the elephants from our unsuitable climate.

It is egregious and inconceivable that the Zoo has failed to take even the most minimal precaution to protect elephants from the obvious challenge of captivity in Seattle’s climate:  rain. This violation demonstrates that the Zoo is ill-equipped and lacks commitment to housing elephants in a manner that meets the most basic standards of welfare.

“Given the increased public scrutiny on the Zoo’s elephant program and the recent death of Watoto, the Zoo’s failure to prevent the discomfort of its elephants without USDA intervention is shocking,” said Alyne Fortgang, co-founder of Friends of Woodland Park Zoo Elephants. “Now that Woodland Park Zoo has violated the AWA and breached the terms of its contract with the City, the City Council must exercise its authority to ensure that Bamboo and Chai are retired to a sanctuary immediately.”

Read the USDA inspection report here

Bob Barker asks Seattle and WPZ to retire their surviving elephants

Download Bob Barker’s letter to the City of Seattle and Woodland Park Zoo

September 30, 2014

Dear Mayor Murray, Council Members and Dr. Jensen,

I have devoted much of my time to helping animals and have been an advocate for releasing elephants to sanctuaries for many years. In October of last year, the three elephants from the Toronto Zoo were successfully retired to the Performing Animal Welfare Society (PAWS). As you may be aware, PAWS provides elephants with space to walk, forage, swim and live their lives to the fullest.

Chai and Bamboo in Seattle have a similar poor quality of life as the elephants had in Toronto. (Sadly, Watoto died before she could have a single day in a sanctuary.)  Like Toronto, Seattle’s elephants only have about an acre yard. Toronto Zoo’s elephant barn was 4 times larger than the barn at Woodland Park Zoo yet Toronto’s City Council and Zoo Board felt it was not large enough.

Seattle’s wet and cold climate forces these highly intelligent animals to be locked up in tiny cages in the barn.  This 16 – 17 hours of daily confinement lasts for over half of the year.  The conditions in which your elephants live are physically and psychologically damaging to these far ranging animals who are genetically wired to move great distances.

No matter how many millions of tax payer dollars Woodland Park Zoo and the City of Seattle spend on improving the elephant exhibit, the Zoo is landlocked and can never provide the amount of space these giants need.  The Zoo cannot change the climate that causes the prolonged lock up.

Retiring the elephants and creating a non-live exhibit would make more sense; freeing up money to save elephants in the wild.

I’m asking Seattle’s Mayor, City Council and Woodland Park Zoo’s management to make the humane decision to retire Bamboo and Chai to PAWS.

Sincerely,

BobBarkerSig

Bob Barker
Cc: Friends of Woodland Park Zoo Elephants

Next Page »