This is Watoto, the solo African elephant at Woodland Park Zoo.

The Zoo wants to ship her to another zoo SOON.

Please write now to ask that she spend her final years at a sanctuary. 

Time is of the essence. Ignoring science, the media and citizen’s conscience, the Zoo announced they intend to send Watoto to live in another zoo exhibit. Scientific American calls these cramped zoo environments: “tortuous conditions [that] inflict serious physical and psychological damage on such smart and sensitive animals.”

Watoto needs your support now to ensure that her future is secure, and permanent, at a sanctuary.  We are extremely concerned that another zoo may be even worse than her impoverished life now. She deserves better than to die in a zoo.

Wanda and Gypsy at PAWS

Wanda and Gypsy (Photo credit: PAWS)

The Performing Animal Welfare Society (PAWS), an elephant sanctuary in California, has said they welcome talking with the Zoo about retiring our elephants. Here is an opportunity for the Zoo to do the right thing and allow Watoto to heal from a lifetime of zoo confinement.  Watoto could roam on 80 acres of rolling hills with 6 other African elephants—and have access to a therapy pool and lake. It appears that Deborah Jensen, President and CEO of Woodland Park Zoo may not take pity on Watoto’s plight and might deny her this humane future.

To deny Watoto a life that would help her heal physically and psychologically is unconscionable.

Please speak up for Watoto. Email or tweet the Mayor, City Council and Zoo management. Below is more about Watoto and talking points you can use or simply say:

Retire Watoto to a sanctuary.

Email: Ed.murray@seattle.gov, Jean.Godden@seattle.gov, Sally.Bagshaw@seattle.gov, Tim.Burgess@seattle.gov, Sally.Clark@seattle.gov,  Bruce.Harrell@seattle.gov, Nick.Licata@seattle.gov, Tom.Rasmussen@seattle.gov, Mike.OBrien@seattle.gov, Kshama.Sawant@seattle.gov, Deborah.jensen@zoo.org, Bruce.Bohmke@zoo.org, Darin.Collins@zoo.org, nancy.hawkes@zoo.org, zooinfo@zoo.org

Tweet: @Mayor_Ed_Murray   @SeattleCouncil   @woodlandparkzoo

Watoto kept in solitary confinement

Watoto kept in solitary confinement

Watoto is 44 years old and has lived in the Woodland Park Zoo since she was taken from her mother as a baby.  Female elephants live with their mothers for life but Watoto was crated up and shipped from Kenya to Seattle. That was the first trauma in a lifetime of traumas at Woodland Park Zoo

Watoto is a broken, beaten down elephant.  She is lame, arthritic, has chronic colic, painful skin issues, and needs to have the socket where her tusk fell out flushed daily. She endured being chained in place for 16 hours a day during a period when Allen Campbell, a circus trainer, was head of the elephant program.  During that time, it was common elephant management practice to beat the elephants into compliance with the bullhook.

Watoto sways and paces which you can see in the video in the upper right hand corner.  These abnormal behaviors are the mind’s way of coping with trauma, stress and crushing boredom.  Watoto and Bamboo must always be kept separated. This means that when the elephants are locked in tiny barn cages for up to 17 hours a day, every day, for over half of the year, either Watoto or Bamboo is in solitary confinement.  This is clearly abusive to such an intelligent, social animal.

Watoto in the yard at WPZ

Watoto in the yard at WPZ

Outdoors, Watoto has access to a fraction of the already inadequate 1-acre yard. The compacted ground on which she has been forced to stand combined with such a sedentary existence has caused her lameness and arthritis.

Talking points:

  • A super majority of Seattleites support sending the elephants to a sanctuary. Please champion the community conscience and retire Watoto to a sanctuary, now!
  • Woodland Park Zoo has received over $100 million taxpayer dollars from the City and King County since 2002.  This makes all of us responsible for Watoto’s welfare, not just the zoo.
  • Studies have shown that keeping elephants in zoos serves no measurable conservation or educational purpose.
  • Twenty-seven zoos have closed or will close their elephant exhibits; let us join those progressive enlightened Zoos.

Thank you for your compassion!