Spaceless in Seattle” video creator, Ken Moore, appeals to the Woodland Park Zoo Board to release their elephants to The Elephant Sanctuary in TN. Here is the text of his speech:

Good afternoon board members, Thank you for sharing a few minutes of your time today. I also want to thank you for the time, energy and financial support you provide to Woodland Park Zoo.   It’s a great resource for our community and for conservation. However, I too have significant reservations about the zoo’s elephant program.  My concerns are not about the care they are given, but about the insurmountable limits on the resources we can provide.

I work at Google as a software designer, and I AM a bit of a math nerd, but it doesn’t take much smarts to see that the numbers don’t add up. There are too many troubling statistics for me to cover tonight, so I’ll just touch on three.

First: space.  Asian elephants typically roam over an area on the order of 200 square miles. That’s 128,000 acres — 128 THOUSAND TIMES as much space as the one acre that Chai, Bamboo and Watoto all share.  And that’s the conservative estimate — many elephants roam far larger areas.

Secondly:  companionship.  Elephants are incredibly social creatures who, in the wild, travel in large herds and frequently interact with other groups. Over the course of a day they might encounter 20 to 200 other elephants. These social connections are known to be vital for an elephant’s well being. So it’s fair to say that in the elephant world, three is hardly a crowd… especially when two of those elephants don’t get along and must be constantly separated.

Third: foot and joint disease. In the United States in the last decade, there were 74 deaths of zoo elephants above the age of 10.  Of those, 22 are known to have died from foot or joint disease.  That’s 30 percent. This type of death is almost unheard of in the wild, so clearly the zoo environments and resulting inactivity play a huge role in cutting these lives short.

From Woodland Park Zoo’s own reports, Bamboo and Chai have been treated for foot abscesses — with Chai receiving 80 treatments for foot infections in 2008 alone.  Also, Watoto and Bamboo are reportedly showing symptoms of joint disease.  Sadly, our elephants are all on track to join that fateful 30%.

On a personal note, I live not far away in Ballard with my wife and a 1-year-old daughter. And like most parents I’d like my child to grow up with self awareness and the strength to stand up for her convictions. But I can only teach her those lessons if I lead by example — which is why I’m here tonight asking you to please consider transferring the elephants to a sanctuary, where they can have plenty of space to roam, lots of  companionship, and an environment conducive to foot and joint health.

As much as I’d love to bring my daughter to Woodland Park Zoo, I would be a bit of a hypocrite to do so knowing that the elephants have so little of what they need to live long and healthy lives.

2 Responses to “Video creator appeals to WPZ Board to release elephants”

  1. CR on 02 Feb 2011 at 2:53 am #

    Great testimony!

  2. brad on 14 Mar 2011 at 9:16 pm #

    have they given a response to this video

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