King County - Vote!Seattle, WA (July 10, 2017) – Friends of Woodland Park Zoo Elephants (Friends) is calling for King County voters to reject Proposition 1, a ballot measure to be decided in the August 1 primary election.

This measure would raise over one-half billion dollars for arts and cultural programs by increasing the retail sales tax. The sales tax is recognized as a regressive tax that hits lower income households the hardest.

“This measure would be a bonanza for large and wealthy organizations that don’t need taxpayer support—including the Woodland Park Zoo, an organization that has already received over $177 million in taxpayer subsidies by Seattle and King County residents,” said Alyne Fortgang, Co-founder of Friends.

Friends was created to advocate for humane treatment of the zoo’s elephants and to encourage the elephants’ relocation to an accredited sanctuary. Woodland Park Zoo did relocate elephants Chai and Bamboo in 2015, but to the Oklahoma City Zoo, an even worse zoo for elephants. Chai died within only eight months of arriving in Oklahoma, allegedly from substandard care and negligence. Bamboo survives, but as a victim and aggressor, incompatible with other elephants at the zoo and suffering from chronic health conditions.

“We urged the King County council to exclude the zoo as a recipient of funds from the measure. With millions of dollars in reserve and heavily subsidized already, Woodland Park Zoo needs no more taxpayer support” said Fortgang. “However, Proposition 1 will make the zoo eligible for tens of millions of additional taxpayer dollars while higher priorities like affordable housing, roads, homelessness, education and other human services desperately need funding.” Furthermore, if passed, none of the funding would go to improve the animals’ quality of life in the zoo.

One of the primary sponsors of the Proposition 1 ballot measure on the King County Council is Jeanne Kohl-Welles. However, in addition to serving on the County Council, Ms. Kohl-Welles is member of Woodland Park Zoo’s Board of Directors. “Instead of leading the charge for this ballot measure, Ms. Kohl-Welles should have recused herself. She should not have led the Council’s effort to pass an ordinance that would qualify the zoo, an organization she helps direct, for millions of additional taxpayer dollars” said Fortgang. “This is clearly a conflict of interest that was not disclosed as required by state law.”


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