Seattle, WA (January 11, 2017) – In Defense of Animals chose The Oklahoma City Zoo (OKC Zoo) as the worst zoo for elephants in the United States in 2016. OKC Zoo earned the top spot based on its miserable record of elephant disease, aggression and premature deaths—as well as its irresponsible elephant breeding program.

In 2015, OKC Zoo and Woodland Park Zoo (WPZ) rejected the will of Seattle’s residents, City Council and Mayor when Bamboo and Chai were moved to OKC Zoo instead of an accredited sanctuary. Friends of Woodland Park Zoo Elephants (“Friends”) warned OKC Zoo about Bamboo’s aggressive history and incompatibility with other elephants, as well as Bamboo and Chai’s exposure to the to the deadly herpes virus that killed Hansa, a young calf at WPZ.

Soon after Chai and Bamboo’s arrival at OKC Zoo in 2015, Malee (4-years-old) died from the same strain of Elephant Herpes Virus Chai suffered from just months earlier. Yet OKC Zoo continued with plans to artificially inseminate Chandra a month later. Achara (2-years-old) became ill with the virus in September 2016 but survived and three months later Chandra was again artificially inseminated. This disease causes the major organs to hemorrhage resulting in a horrifically painful illness and often death. Alyne Fortgang, Co-founder of Friends says, “Continuing to breed at this zoo virtually ensures suffering and death—it’s unethical and must stop immediately.”

Chai died only eight months after arriving at OKC Zoo allegedly due to substandard health care and negligence. She wasted away, rapidly losing 1,000 pounds, and suffered from an infection in her bloodstream likely caused by 25 puss-filled abscesses—all of which went untreated.

Now Bamboo, languishes at OKC Zoo, an aggressor and victim. The other elephants at the zoo have repeatedly attacked Bamboo, injuring various parts of her body including her trunk and one of the bites amputated the end of her tail. In turn, Bamboo attacked others including baby Achara and has tried to harm the keepers numerous times. Fortgang adds, “Trapped within a cramped hot-wired yard there is no ability to flee from an attack causing an unhealthy and dangerous situation.”

Given Bamboo’s chronic health issues and incompatibility with the other elephants, her continued residence at OKC Zoo has little rationale. It is not too late for OKC Zoo to do the right thing by allowing her to heal and live in peace at an accredited elephant sanctuary.

In Defense of Animals’ 2016 Ten Worst Zoos for Elephants list:

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Video obtained through Oklahoma Open Records.

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