Danny Westneat of the Seattle Times wrote a column, describing the history and relationship between elephant welfare activists and the zoo. Read the full column in the Seattle Times. Here is an excerpt:

Locally, the story is cringe-worthy. Berens revealed that Woodland Park Zoo has artificially inseminated the elephant Chai 112 times without a birth. Then there’s a sure sign the zoos know they have a problem. They are resorting to spin and PR campaigns to attack their critics.

Berens described one: When the Association of Zoos and Aquariums decided that, despite a soaring elephant death toll, they were going to “speak and act with a unified voice” in claiming the elephants were thriving. Central to the plan was marginalizing critics of elephant captivity as “extremists.”

It wasn’t long before that was put into action here. A member of the Woodland Park Zoo board used that exact phrasing in a letter to the Seattle City Council, which Fortgang shared with me. It claimed activists here were essentially a front for an “organized, well-funded movement by animal rights extremist groups” with the sole mission to “attack zoos.”

One councilman, Richard Conlin, fired back. He scolded the zoo for using “the pejorative ‘extremist’ ” as a blunt instrument to beat down legitimate questions.

This column is in part a reaction to the recent Seattle Times multi-part expose on the WPZ elephants.

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