Category: WPZ in the news

Editorial: WPZ should embrace a 21st century model as a sanctuary zoo

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.

Article: Seattle elephant Bamboo attacked, bitten at new home in Oklahoma

Our hearts go out to Bamboo who is experiencing attacks from one or more of the elephants at the Oklahoma Zoo. In a tiny zoo yard, there is no space to flee and escape from an attack. Bamboo is also suffering from serious, captivity-related foot problems and colic. Bamboo has frequently been isolated as a result of these attacks. We call upon the Oklahoma City Zoo to have compassion for Bamboo and retire her to the 2,100 acre Asian habitat at The Elephant Sanctuary in TN.

Read the full article here from The Seattle Times

Here is an excerpt:

When Seattle’s Woodland Park Zoo transferred its two elephants to the Oklahoma City Zoo last year, officials were optimistic that the animals would integrate well with Oklahoma’s existing herd.

Bamboo, the elder female, would become the matriarch. The younger Chai would be an “auntie” to Oklahoma’s young elephants, they predicted.

But within a few months, one of Oklahoma’s baby elephants was dead of a viral infection almost certainly passed to her by Chai. A few months later, Chai herself collapsed and died from a combination of emaciation and a systemic blood infection.

Now, zoo records show that far from acting as a matriarch, Bamboo has attacked — and been attacked by — the other elephants at her new home.

Editorial: Zoo community refuses to learn from elephant Chai’s death

In this Editorial, The Seattle Times again shows that it has been a friend to the elephants; making sure their plight was heard. Sadly, Woodland Park Zoo, under Deborah Jensen, acted selfishly to keep Bamboo and Chai in the clutches of the zoo industry. Seattle Councilmember Kshama Sawant got an ordinance written that would have directed Woodland Park Zoo to send Bamboo and Chai to sanctuary. Unfortunately Councilmembers Sally Bagshaw and Bruce Harrell voted to stop it. Elephants are highly intelligent, far-ranging animals who suffer and die young in zoos. They succumb physically and psychologically to the lack of exercise confined in tiny spaces, crushing boredom, lack of social interaction and captivity related diseases. At Oklahoma City Zoo the care was apparently substandard and Friends will be taking action.

Opinion: Don’t send Woodland Park Zoo elephants to same fate at another zoo

Guest columnist Lyn Tangen writes an opinion piece for the Seattle Times urging Seattle to send WPZ’s two surviving elephants, Chai and Bamboo, to a sanctuary instead of another cramped zoo. Here’s an excerpt:

As a member of the Woodland Park Zoo Elephant Task Force, I reviewed the zoo’s elephant program. I strongly disagree with the zoo board’s decision to send Chai and Bamboo to another zoo. Chai and Bamboo should go to an elephant sanctuary.

In a sanctuary such as PAWS (Performing Animal Welfare Society) in Northern California, elephants have many acres in which to roam without restraint. No one can seriously doubt that elephants that have 15 or more acres to roam are better off than elephants crammed into a 1 or 2 acre exhibit in a zoo.

Standards for elephant sanctuaries established by the Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries are in many cases more stringent than the Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA) accreditation standards for zoos. Sanctuaries are licensed and monitored by the same governmental agencies as zoos.

Years ago, Bamboo was sent to the Point Defiance Zoo to be with more Asian elephants. She did not integrate into the existing herd and was returned to the Woodland Park Zoo. If Chai and Bamboo are sent to another zoo, they could end up living just as they do now, a herd of two in crowded space — or worse, separated and bounced from zoo to zoo.

Read the full article in the Seattle Times

BornFreeUSA: What Is the Difference Between Elephants and Zoos?

Check out this superb article on featuring the WPZ elephants

No conservation function is served by imprisoning elephants. Ivory poachers and ivory buyers are the problem; imprison them. There is nothing that an elephant in an enclosure can teach you that can’t be better learned many other ways”

We agree and are advocating for Bamboo and Chai to go to PAWS sanctuary—not another zoo.

Editorial: Learn from the death of zoo elephant Watoto, move remaining elephants

From the Seattle Times, an editorial on the tragic death of Watoto. Here is an excerpt:

A NUMBER of lessons should be drawn from the investigation into the death of Watoto the elephant. Among them: Chai and Bamboo, the two surviving females in the Woodland Park Zoo’s pachyderm exhibit, deserve to live out their days in a warm and spacious sanctuary.

Spare these two beloved creatures the pain Watoto suffered before she was euthanized on Aug. 22.

Zoo officials say they do not know whether the 45-year-old African elephant lay down or fell. But chronic arthritis in Watoto’s leg joints likely rendered her unable to stand back up, according to Woodland Park’s director of animal health, Dr. Darin Collins.

The city should remove Chai and Bamboo from captivity as soon as possible. The zoo should also reveal how long Watoto was down, as well as why records indicate no one checked on the exhibit in the hours leading up to her collapse.

Had she been found sooner, she might have stood a chance of survival — at least this time.

Read the full editorial and leave a comment on the Seattle Times site

Seattle’s Global March for Elephants and Rhinos

Friends of Woodland Park Zoo Elephants was one of the sponsors of Seattle’s Global March for Elephants and Rhinos. We joined about 130 cities worldwide to bring awareness to the poaching crisis with may cause the extinction of these species within our lifetime. Please sign the petition and donate to the organizations listed. It is through their worthy and perilous efforts that these animals will be saved.

Check out the article and great photos on Rescue News about the event

Article: The logical fallacy of zoo elephant captivity and conservation

From by Christie Legally:

WPZ elephants in the barn

WPZ elephants in the barn

I recently read a letter in the Seattle Times from a reader who believed the elephants at Woodland Park Zoo should remain there, rather than be retired to a sanctuary, so that these elephants can make people aware of conservation efforts needed for wild elephants.  (See letter “Keep the Exhibit.”)

It is a logical fallacy to state that keeping elephants in zoos promotes conservation of wild elephants. This claim creates a false relationship between captivity and conservation so as to assume that one can influence the other.

Not only has this relationship been shown to be incorrect by sociological research (reference), but this statement is like saying that we can fight crime in New York City by planting flowers in Seattle.  To stop the poaching of wild elephants in Africa and Asia, we must address the direct issues that lead to poaching such as poverty and the ivory trade.

Both poaching and captivity of elephants in zoos and circus are crimes against elephants.  To state that the latter prevents the former is like saying that being robbed by a stranger prevents you from being assaulted by a stranger.  Crimes against elephants must be dealt with at the source in Africa, Asia and Seattle.

The passing of Watoto



Friends of Woodland Park Zoo Elephants is profoundly shocked and saddened by the passing of Watoto. She is now at peace. No more solitary confinement for up to 17 hours in a barren cage. No more lock-up in a tiny section of a yard. No more daily flushing of the socket where she lost her tusk from an incident in the elephant restraining device. No more pain from lameness, arthritis, colic, and painful skin problems.

At 45 years old, Watoto should have been in the prime of her life, still having calves. Sadly, confinement in a zoo causes elephants to die young. Over half of the 76 elephants who have died in AZA-accredited facilities since 2000 never reached the age of 40. According to National Geographic, an African elephant’s natural lifespan is up to 70 years old.

We hope Woodland Park Zoo’s Board and Management will reflect upon Watoto’s early death and make the decision to allow the two surviving elephants to retire to a sanctuary. Anything less diminishes our humanity. R.I.P. Watoto.

HuffPo Article: Seattle Zoo Elephant’s Unexpected Death Prompts Important Discussion About Animal Captivity

The tragic and sudden death of Watoto, WPZ’s African elephant, once again has put the Zoo into the national spotlight. Huffington Post picked up the story.

Here is an excerpt:

“In the wild at 45 years old they’re still having babies,” Alyne Fortgang, a Seattle resident and critic of the zoo’s elephant exhibit, told the AP. “Watoto was lame. She had arthritis, chronic bouts of colic and skin conditions, all caused by her environment.”

For years, activists have lamented the continuation of elephant exhibits at zoos and called for the animals to be relocated to sanctuaries. They assert that the confined living quarters negatively impact the well-being of elephants.

Friends of the Woodland Park Zoo, an advocacy group that advocates for the relocation of the zoo’s elephants to sanctuaries, said in a post on their website that “Watoto’s life must not be in vain” and “confinement in a zoo takes a physical and psychological toll on these far-ranging and intelligent animals.”

Read the full story on Huffington Post

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