The Seattle Times published an op-ed by the Chair and Vice-Chair of Woodland Park Zoo’s Board of Directors.  It shows, once again, that the Zoo is insular; defying science and the public conscience.

The Zoo pejoratively labeled anyone who believes that elephants don’t belong in the zoo as extremists.  Do they think that Scientific American, Dr. Jane Goodall, The Seattle Times and 62% of Seattleites are extremists?

Scientific American (February, 2014):  “We now have solid evidence that elephants are some of the most intelligent, social and empathic animals around—so how can we justify keeping them in captivity?”  “…if the zoos really have the animals’ best interests at heart, they would close their elephant exhibits.”
The Science Is In: Elephants Are Even Smarter Than We Realized [Video]

Scientific American Opinion and Analysis piece states (March, 2014): “Confined elephants often spend their time standing around in cramped quarters… These tortuous conditions inflict serious physical and psychological damage on such smart and sensitive animals.  “…captive breeding programs should be terminated.”
Free the Elephants and Orcas in Captivity [Editorial]

Dr. Jane Goodall:  “…there are some species, like elephants, which will always be unsuited to zoo environments.”
Optimal Future (Page 56)

The Seattle Times’ Pulitzer Prize winning journalist, using zoo industry records, revealed that elephants die young and suffer in zoos.  He used Woodland Park Zoo as a prime example.  The Seattle Times has issued five editorials calling for the retirement of the elephants to a sanctuary.

The Zoo’s 5-year plan is to send Watoto to another zoo and then bring in two more elephants, one whom is of breeding age.  Where there have been 3 elephants, the Zoo will cram 4 – 5 into the 1 acre yard or locked in the same barn cages—which defines “tortuous conditions”.  Their meager allotment of $1.5 – $3 million (tax) dollars will not improve the elephants’ quality of life.  LA and San Diego Zoos’ commitment to their elephants cost $42 million.

The Zoo touts the Task Force for legitimizing this plan.  The members of the Task Force were handpicked by the Zoo to get these desired results—most members had a conflict of interest.  The Zoo Board member who selected the health panel advising the Task Force was biased: he penned an op-ed in the Seattle Times saying the elephants should stay at the Zoo.

The Zoo used the fact that the City has the authority to appoint 3 people out of the Zoo’s 45-member Board of Directors as an endorsement of the elephant program by the citizens of Seattle.  We know that is patently not true.  The City has not taken a position on the elephant issue.  Furthermore, an October 2013 survey showed that 62% of Seattleites (90% of whom are registered voters) want the elephants retired to a sanctuary in a warm climate with a vast amount of space.

The Zoo referred to their own poll which was about how the zoo rates as an institution.  Their poll was NOT about how citizens of Seattle feel about the elephant program.  Furthermore, when we requested to see the Zoo’s poll, they refused.  Ours is readily available.

Elephants don’t belong in Seattle. Period.  The climate is unsuitable forcing the elephants to be locked in barn cages 16-17 hours a day for over half of the year.  The meager 1 acre is inadequate for these far-ranging animals causing physical and psychological harm.

Our Zoo is stuck in 19th century thinking and the elephants suffer as a result; Bamboo paces in circles, Chai bobs her head, and Watoto sways… waiting to heal in a sanctuary.

Please write to the Seattle City Council and Mayor:,,,,,,,,,


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