Baby giraffe at Woodland Park Zoo

Photo credit: Greg Gilbert/The Seattle Times

The Seattle Times published an editorial by Alyne Fortgang and Lisa Kane, urging Woodland Park Zoo to transition to a modern “sanctuary zoo” model:

With the recent birth of a giraffe at Woodland Park Zoo (WPZ), it has never been more evident that it is time for the zoo to move out of its 19th-century vision of exhibiting a menagerie of wild animals in cages and tanks. It needs to embrace a new vision fueled by innovation and community ethics. We call on WPZ to become an accredited 21st-century sanctuary zoo dedicated to caring for needy, mostly local wildlife and inspiring zoo visitors to conserve the wildlife and wilderness that remains.

Why is a radical re-imagining of the Seattle zoo necessary?

Our baby giraffe will spend a lifetime on display in a tiny and tedious exhibit. She will never have a home range (up to 250 square miles), a dynamic natural social life (including membership in a herd of dozens), nor the experience of living in an environment teeming with diversity. It goes without saying she will never run 35 miles per hour, anywhere, for any reason.

Life in the zoo’s giraffe exhibit will frustrate every natural instinct born in her. We know this because “Wild animals, even if they’re born in captivity, retain all their natural instincts…,” says Wayne Pacelle, CEO of the Humane Society of the United States.

Read the full op-ed in the Seattle Times here.

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