Craig Young of, who posted a detailed assessment recently of the Zoo’s “Task Farce”, this week offers a thoughtful open letter to Seattle’s mayor and city council, for which he has yet to receive a response.

To: Seattle City Mayor and Council
Re: Woodland Park Zoo Elephant Task Force

June 25th, 2013

Dear Mayor McGinn and Councilmembers Clark, Bagshaw, Burgess, Conlin, Godden, Harrell, Licata, O’Brien, Rasmussen:

On April 21st, 2013, I emailed each of you regarding my Open Letter to Woodland Park Zoo’s Elephant Exhibit & Program Task Force, but I’ve yet to receive a single reply from any of your offices regarding the issue. (Although the mayor was kind enough to add me to his spam email list. Thanks for that, Mr. Mayor!)

While the city informally asked Woodland Park Zoo to impanel a task force – better referred to as a “task farce” given that it was set up by the zoo to decide what is in its own best interests and not necessarily the elephants’ (insert fox guarding hen house joke here) – is it now your position to remain conspicuously silent while that panel conducts its meetings and rubber stamps the zoo’s intention of keeping Watoto, Bamboo, and Chai behind bars for the rest of their days for the amusement of a paying public?

As a proud citizen of this fine city as well as a concerned one, I wonder if such silence and an unwillingness on the city’s part to properly investigate the elephants’ welfare by qualified people and organizations who are not directly associated with either Woodland Park Zoo or the Association of Zoos and Aquariums will serve the mayor or council well come election time? Like elephants, your constituents have long memories and we won’t forget where you stood and, as importantly, where you remained silent on this issue.

Here is a recent article on the Task Force and how very little they, the zoo, or the AZA truly cares about the welfare of these three magnificent and sentient animals beyond the gate receipts they bring in. Take the time, read it, and then ask yourselves if this how you want history to remember this city and your time in office when this issue is looked back on.

Do the moral thing, do the ethical thing, do the right thing and send Watoto, Bamboo, and Chai to a properly recognized sanctuary, such as The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee or the Performing Animal Welfare Society, where they have the room to roam and be the elephants that they are; not creatures confined to tiny enclosures at least six months out of every year, forced to be artificially inseminated against their will again and again and again, used as “conservation decoys” for the money they bring in.

Let’s pretend for a moment that we’re living in an enlightened age and understand what it means to be a compassionate species. Let’s pretend for their sake that we have their best interests at heart. Let’s not keep silent for the benefit of political expediency. Watoto, Bamboo, and Chai deserve better from you on this issue – as does Seattle. We’re watching, waiting, and paying attention. Are you?

I look forward to your replies.

Craig Young
Seattle, WA

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One Response to “Open Letter to Seattle City Mayor and Council Regarding Woodland Park Zoo’s Elephant Task Force”

  1. Judy Salerno on 25 Jul 2013 at 9:28 pm #

    As a human being, and lover of all animals, I am outraged by the hardness of the people who run zoos and circus’. It is so beyond my understanding how anyone could put a 4 ton animal in the size cage these elephants are forced to live in. The video of this elephant pacing back and forth is beyond inhumane.
    What a pretty name you bear “Woodland Park ZOO”. But sadly it is another horror in which an elephant meust endure til’ their end of days. I know you all can read, you must surely have read and studied elephant behaviour and know what it takes for an elephant to have in order to be of sound mind. They walk many many miles a day. They do not pace. You are guilty of a horrible crime against these animals. I will remember your name for as long as I live, and until you release these poor stir crazy animals to sanctuary, I will spend time each day telling people about you, and I will make sure that they never “visit” you ZOO or that their friends will not do the same until these beautiful animals are set as free as they can be. They deserve retirement, it is time. Please answer to their suffering.

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