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.
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.
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.
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