Of Interest:

[Video] PAWS vs Another Zoo: Where can Bamboo and Chai thrive?

PAWS sanctuary or Oklahoma City Zoo? A chart.

What you can do


Chai and Bamboo denied sanctuary; sent to another small zoo yard

sanctuary land

PAWS: Actual tract of land dedicated for Bamboo and Chai

We need to accept that the worst has happened: Bamboo and Chai were denied humane sanctuary at PAWS and are in another tiny zoo display at the Oklahoma City Zoo. We will be monitoring their lives and hope that they don’t suffer too much.

Friends of Woodland Park Zoo Elephants (Friends) can claim success in that another elephant exhibit in this country is closed—Seattle’s. More importantly, we are extremely proud of our role in raising awareness in our community and beyond. Our widely reported efforts have helped people understand the inherent cruelty of keeping these intelligent, far ranging and sentient animals in zoo confinement. It is inevitable that this awareness and empathy will extend to all animals who are captured or bred to live in tiny, artificial zoo displays for our entertainment. People are getting it!

OK City Zoo elephant yard

Oklahoma City Zoo: Artificial, small, boring yard with trees outside of electrified fencing

Friends will remain engaged in Bamboo and Chai’s quality of life. We will give Bamboo and Chai’s transition some months and then we’ll visit the Oklahoma City Zoo to see if they have integrated with the other elephants—or if they are still separated in a half acre. If there are serious concerns, we will work with the newly elected City Council (in January) to retire Bamboo and Chai to a sanctuary.

Friends’ valuable work could not have happened without you: our dedicated supporters. We are profoundly thankful to so many people who faithfully wrote emails, called, and attended court hearings, demonstrations and city council meetings. So many people volunteered in so many ways: managing our social media, filming, designing, doing research and donating banners, signs and our unmistakable orange t-shirts! A special thanks goes to the renowned elephant experts who selflessly gave of themselves. A huge thanks to those who donated to the legal battles on behalf of Bamboo and Chai. We are grateful for the support from PETA, HSUS and IDA. Friends of Woodland Park Zoo Elephants could not have done this without all of you and we extend an elephant-sized THANK YOU!

Elephant-Sized News: With Bamboo and Chai in San Diego We Have Another Chance to SAVE them!

GiveBig 2015Elephant Justice Project (EJP), an ally of Friends of Woodland Park Zoo Elephants, has succeeded in getting a partial ruling in the federal law suit against Woodland Park Zoo. The Honorable Judge Coughenour stated that EJP will likely win on the merits of its case!  Now EJP is requesting an injunction to keep Bamboo and Chai in California so their next move will be to PAWS sanctuary!  Then we believe that the judge is poised to establish an important precedent!

Strong litigation opportunities like this don’t come often!

We need your help with funding this ground breaking effort.  EJP has a highly respected judge who is sympathetic and will hopefully reach the merits of this case.

Please donate Tuesday, May 5th during Seattle Foundation’s one-day GiveBIG. Your donation will go farther because it is matched!

Please donate HERE to Northwest Animal Rights Network/Friends of Woodland Park Zoo Elephants.

This may be the best chance we’ll ever have—not only for Chai & Bamboo—but to help elephants nationwide based on the Endangered Species Act (ESA).

  • Judge Coughenour indicated that if the sanctuary was ready to receive Seattle’s elephants, he might well have ordered that they be retired to a sanctuary. Now we have a declaration stating that PAWS will commit to providing lifetime sanctuary for Bamboo and Chai in a wooded habitat in an elephant-friendly climate.
  • The court also expressed deep concerns for the elephants’ well-being over the deaths of other elephants at the hands of zoos, and over zoo industry experts who defend inhumane treatment of elephants. Now we have the reckless move of Bamboo and Chai out of Seattle despite hazardous weather forecasts. This endangered their lives and caused them to be rerouted to San Diego.
  • Most legal cases trying to enforce the ESA fail because the plaintiff lacks standing to bring the case. Here, EJP’s standing is so strong it has gone unchallenged. With clear standing, our case might be one of the very first that can expose the private dealings of zoos and amusement parks with endangered species.

EJP’s lawyers are working hard putting together the expert testimony that the judge needs to do the right thing.

We need your help to fund this critical legal battle for sanctuary!

Donate here on May 5th!

USDA complaint filed: Reckless transfer endangered elephants’ lives

Woodland Park Zoo hastily transported Bamboo and Chai on April 15th out of Seattle headed to the Oklahoma City Zoo.  This is the same day an injunction was denied and the same day when a proposed ordinance was made public. NOAA’s forecasts for April 15th reported: heavy snow, fog, strong winds and tornadoes for the states along the transport route.

This reckless transport endangered the elephants’ lives and caused them to be in a windowless steel box/crate for even more time—detouring an additional 740 miles.  Now they are holed up in what resembles a prison holding cell.  (See video below)

Friends has called for an investigation by the USDA.  A reported escape of a lion is the subject of another USDA complaint. Links to USDA complaints:

YouTube Preview Image

Jane Goodall says Bamboo and Chai “deserve” PAWS Sanctuary

sanctuary land

Tract of land on which Bamboo and Chai would live.

Dr. Jane Goodall, the moral authority on animals in human care, supports the peaceful retirement of Bamboo and Chai to PAWS Sanctuary. It past due for Seattle’s Mayor and City Council join Kshama Sawant and Mike O’Brien in using their authority to honor the moral values of our city. The officials we elected to represent us need to pass an ordinance directing Woodland Park Zoo to retire Bamboo and Chai to PAWS.

April 22, 2015

Via email:

I am writing on behalf of two special elephants, Bamboo and Chai.

Elephants are among the most intelligent of mammals. They have a complex social structure and form bonds that last for life. They need space, freedom to travel where they wish, rivers and water holes in which to bathe.

I have spent hours watching them in the wild and I feel great sadness when I see them in zoos. Many have suffered for years, both physically and psychologically, in inappropriate captive conditions.

I understand that Bamboo and Chai have the opportunity to retire to PAWS sanctuary in California. This provides optimal conditions for elephants rescued from zoos and circuses. Bamboo and Chai deserve live out their lives in this wonderful place where they can roam over a relatively large area. I urge those responsible to send them there as soon as possible.

Jane Goodall PhD, DBE and UN Messenger of Peace

Investigation of Zoo’s Botched Transport Urged

Friends of Woodland Park Zoo Elephants and Zoocheck held a joint press conference on April 23rd, in the hopes of convincing Seattle’s Mayor Murray and City Council Members to conduct an independent investigation into the failed transport of Chai and Bamboo. We are also asking that Bamboo and Chai not be moved out of San Diego until the investigation is completed and a safe plan, made public, is put in place to protect Bamboo and Chai.

Photo: KOMO 4 News

Photo: KOMO 4 News

Experts, Julie Woodyer with Zoocheck and Margaret Whittaker, planned and successfully executed the transport of three elephants, 3000 miles, from Toronto Zoo in Canada to the PAWS sanctuary in California. They are happy to assist in the investigation and to help identify other experts qualified to assist going forward.

On April 15th Woodland Park Zoo loaded Chai and Bamboo into steel crates and trucked them for what was supposed to be a 40 hour journey to Oklahoma City Zoo. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s forecast on April 15th reported “Heavy snow on its way to the Central Rockies…the weather system will…bring considerable moisture…heavy snow across portions of Wyoming, Colorado and Utah” Those were the states of WPZ’s route. Stopped in Salt Lake City, and with a report that Bamboo had colic, the transport “detoured” to San Diego. With an ailing elephant, the Zoo decided to go another 740 miles to San Diego (Coming back to Seattle was only 90 miles more).

The elephants were whisked out of Seattle the same day an injunction was denied and an ordinance was made public that could send the elephants to a sanctuary. Friends believes this is no coincidence and that Woodland Park Zoo put their own self-interest before the health and safety of Bamboo and Chai.

A Profoundly Sad Day for Elephants and Humans

Bamboo suffering from foot problems

Bamboo with foot infection

It is with profound sadness that I report that Chai and Bamboo were loaded onto a truck around 6 PM last night to begin their grueling trip to another impoverished existence in the Oklahoma City Zoo. This marks the end of many tragic chapters in their lives, and begins another.

As many of you know, we fought a tireless nine-year battle to persuade Woodland Park Zoo to retire Bamboo, Chai, Watoto and Sri to a sanctuary and permanently end the exhibition of elephants.

Chai in barn stall


After we lost Watoto to conditions directly caused by her captivity, Woodland Park Zoo announced they would join other progressive zoos in closing their elephant exhibit—we were hopeful. Unfortunately, Woodland Park Zoo remained intransigent throughout, incapable of considering any point of view different from zoo-industry approved opinion; the leadership entrenched in the industry’s selfish self-interest.

Our efforts were based on best science, independent expert opinion, and the community’s values. Our elephants’ cause inspired broad support from the enlightened Seattle region, people around the world and powerful media voices, especially The Seattle Times. It was the Seattle Times’ scathing front page investigation that cracked the door open to help people understand the suffering these intelligent, far-ranging animals endure when displayed in a tiny, boring, unchanging space—for life.

Watoto kept in solitary confinement

Watoto, RIP

Sadly, our elected officials failed to champion the conscience of their constituents or make our elephants’ well-being a concern of theirs.

The heartbreaking saga of Chai and Bamboo’s pathetic lives in the American Zoo World continues. And so today, we are diminished as human beings.

Nancy Pennington and Alyne Fortgang
Co-founders, Friends of Woodland Park Zoo Elephants

Protest/Remembrance at WPZ This Saturday

Please join in a protest over Woodland Park Zoo sending Bamboo and Chai, the two surviving elephants, to the Oklahoma City Zoo (OCZ). Their reasons for this move have been disingenuous and seeded in selfish motivation that no elephant get out of the clutches of the zoo industry. This will also be a remembrance of the sad, impoverished lives these innocent beings have endured; taken from their mothers and condemned to a tiny display for life.

What: Protest/Remembrance at Woodland Park Zoo
When: Saturday, April 18th. 11am – noon or later
Where: Woodland Park Zoo. South entrance on sidewalk right at the entrance gates. Enter at N. 50th and Fremont Ave. N.
Wear: Orange!

FACT SHEET: Oklahoma City Zoo worse than Woodland Park Zoo

Oklahoma City Zoo elephant barn

Oklahoma City Zoo elephant barn

A new fact sheet on the Oklahoma City Zoo clearly shows that Bamboo and Chai’s quality of life will be worse than that at Woodland Park Zoo. Please write, call, post and tweet.

  • The climate in Oklahoma City is colder forcing more barn lockup
  • Each elephant will have less space
  • The presence of infectious disease
  • The close proximity to an amphitheater with loud rock concerts and pyrotechnics picture attached
  • Elephants are made to perform unnatural circus tricks. picture attached, caption: Asha doing tricks to loud music
Asha doing tricks to loud music

Asha doing tricks to loud music

Elephant Justice Project Sues Woodland Park

Elephants Get Brief Reprieve to Have Their Day in Court

Bamboo in transport crate

Bamboo in a transport crate

Elephant Justice Project (EJP) was created for Bamboo and Chai and all the elephants that suffer and die young in impoverished zoo environments.

EJP filed a law suit in King County Superior Court which challenges the Woodland Park Zoological Society’s claim to have ownership over the elephants and its authority to unilaterally move them to the Oklahoma City Zoo. Washington State’s Legislature passed a law in 2000 that allowed the City of Seattle to contract with the Zoo Society to operate and manage the zoo, but the City had no legal authority to give away all of the animals and equipment. Our state Constitution prohibits such gifts. The 2002 Operating Agreement giving Chai and Bamboo to the Zoo Society is illegal and unconstitutional, so the Zoo Society has no authority to decide their fate.

This proposed move to Oklahoma City Zoo goes against the wishes of Mayor Murray, the City Council majority, and Seattle taxpayers, who support retiring Bamboo and Chai to a sanctuary. Unfortunately, the Mayor and City Council appear to be pandering to the powerful few on the Zoo Society’s Board and have declined to use their authority to order the retirement of Bamboo and Chai to a sanctuary.

With the Mayor and City Council deferring to the Zoo Society, EJP had no other choice than to sue. The lawsuit is a reprieve for the elephants, who will now have their day in court!

There is still time for our elected officials to show progressive leadership and honor the wishes and values of their constituents. Please help us persuade them to help Bamboo and Chai get to sanctuary. Please write, call and/or tweet Seattle’s City Council and Mayor.

Mayor Murray: 206-684-4000
Councilmember Sally Bagshaw: 206-684-8801

sally.bagshaw@seattle.gov, Sally.Clark@seattle.gov, dow.constantine@kingcounty.gov, Kshama.Sawant@seattle.gov, Tim.Burgess@seattle.gov, wpzelephants@yahoo.com, Jean.Godden@seattle.gov, Bruce.Harrell@seattle.gov, Mike.Obrien@seattle.gov, Nick.Licata@seattle.gov, Tom.Rasmussen@seattle.gov, chris.gregorich@seattle.gov, ed.murray@seattle.gov, (Ignore Mayor Murray’s auto reply.)


Read the Complaint
Read the Operating Agreement between the City and Zoological Society

Open Letter to City Council and Mayor on behalf of your constituents

Dear Mayor Murray and City Council Members:

Woodland Park Zoo (WPZ) stands poised to transfer Chai and Bamboo to Oklahoma City Zoo (OCZ) within the next few days or weeks. This decision was taken without regard to the community’s wishes and in arrogant abrogation of your written request to the zoo that it consider a sanctuary option.

WPZ’s actions will condemn our elephants to live out their twilight years in a zoo whose elephant program belongs in the 1950’s. The blatant shortcomings of OCZ are appalling and numerous: a most inhospitable climate, a small and cramped exhibit space that will make effective quarantine difficult if not impossible should its male elephant, who has tested positive for antibodies to TB, develop the disease, the frequent close confinement of elephants inside the barn in spaces antithetical to their natural needs, especially during cold weather, the harassment of their elephants through regular performances of circus-style tricks, the close proximity of a loud rock amphitheater adjacent to the elephant exhibit, and the cruel use of electric prods during the labor and delivery of their most recent elephant calf.

This should not be Chai and Bamboo’s fate.

Sri at St. Louis Zoo

Sri at the St. Louis Zoo, sent there by WPZ

The City of Seattle reserved powers to itself in the Management Agreement with WPZ to weigh in and take part in all animal disposition decisions. Section 15.3 specifically provides that animal disposition decisions are subject to City policy. Stoel Rives, one of Seattle’s finest law firms and wholly independent of the politics of this controversy, agrees:

Under Section 15.3 of the 2001 Operating and Management Agreement, WPZS may dispose of Zoo Animals, but any such disposition must comply with “existing and any adopted . . . disposition policies approved by the City.” We understand this language as giving the City authority to adopt policies regarding disposition of the elephants that WPZS must follow.

This means that WPZ can go forward with its cruel plan only if you, our elected officials, fail to stop it.

Your constituents have clearly shown they want our elephants retired to a warm spacious sanctuary where management is based entirely upon on the elephants’ needs with no pandering to a controlling zoo industry.

Chai in barn stall


This could be your last opportunity to champion the community’s conscience and the opinions of elephant experts worldwide. Failure to act, when the tools to correct this great injustice are in your hands and when the elephants need you the most, will greatly distress the large Seattle community that has shown how much it cares for Chai and Bamboo and their future.

A draft resolution is attached. We call on you to take all action necessary to exercise your authority under the Management Agreement, to champion our rightful place in the vanguard of progressive cities, and to save our elephants from a cruel end.

Yours sincerely,
Lisa Kane, JD
Alyne Fortgang, Co-founder, Friends of Woodland Park Zoo Elephants


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