Seattle, WA – Once again Woodland Park Zoo’s elephant program has made In Defense of Animals’ “Ten Worst Zoos for Elephants” — and for good reason.  The Zoo’s housing of elephants in a tiny display in our unsuitable climate has received increasingly strong criticism.  Michael J. Berens, a Pulitzer Prize winning Seattle Times journalist delivered a scathing investigative report that elephants do not thrive in zoos as the zoo industry would like us to believe.  He used Woodland Park Zoo as a prime example.

In damage control mode the Zoo convened a Task Force.  Not only did the Zoo handpick its members but they also handpicked the health panel advising the Task Force, shutting out perspectives from outside of the zoo industry.

The Task Force refused to include internationally renowned experts suggested by Friends of Woodland Park Zoo Elephants which included the co-founders of The Elephant Sanctuary in TN.  Instead, the Task Force went forward with their own zoo industry insiders to achieve the results they wanted:  the elephants are happy and healthy in their fraction of an acre and being locked up in a tiny barren stall indoors for up to 17 hours a day for over half of the year.  Furthermore, the Chair of the Health Panel defended the 112 highly invasive artificial insemination procedures on Chai.

Science, and frankly common sense, tells us that the largest land mammal cannot be physically and psychologically healthy in such an impoverished environment regardless of excellent veterinarian care — care, which is necessitated by the adverse effects of the elephants’ environment.

With the overwhelmingly negative reaction resulting from “Blackfish” to orcas being kept in pools at Sea World, the same enlightenment is evolving with Bamboo, Chai and Watoto being kept in a display “cage” at Woodland Park Zoo. A recent survey showed 62% of Seattleites want the elephants retired to a sanctuary in a warmer climate with hundreds of acres to roam.

It’s time for Woodland Park Zoo’s Board of Directors to listen and retire the elephants to a sanctuary.

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