Nancy Farnam from Edmunds writes a compelling letter to the editor in response to the Seattle P-I article about captive elephants’ lifespans being shorter than those of wild elephants.

A study published last week confirms what animal advocates have known for years. Elephants live a lot longer in the wild than they do in zoos (“Elephants live longer in the wild, study finds,” Dec. 11).

One amazing finding was that Asian elephants born in zoos have much shorter lifespans. In fact, 76 percent of those born in recent years have died before age ten, 57 percent from herpesviruses. Woodland Park Zoo’s 6-year old elephant, Hansa, became one of these tragic statistics last year. Failure of zoos to practice infection control has allowed the deadly viruses to spread through the captive populations and are decimating young Asian elephants, the most susceptible to the viruses.

Adult zoo elephants die prematurely from ailments caused by inadequate space and being forced to stand on hard surfaces for years. Woodland Park Zoo’s records reveal that its surviving elephants all suffer from arthritis and chronic foot infections.

Woodland Park Zoo should join the growing list of zoos that have realized they can’t properly care for elephants. Bamboo, Watoto, Chai and Sri should be retired to The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee where they will finally have the space and freedom they need to thrive and the chance to live a normal lifespan.

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