Category: Action Alert

Press Release: No on Prop 1 for Additional Tax Funding for Woodland Park Zoo


King County - Vote!Seattle, WA (July 10, 2017) – Friends of Woodland Park Zoo Elephants (Friends) is calling for King County voters to reject Proposition 1, a ballot measure to be decided in the August 1 primary election.

This measure would raise over one-half billion dollars for arts and cultural programs by increasing the retail sales tax. The sales tax is recognized as a regressive tax that hits lower income households the hardest.

“This measure would be a bonanza for large and wealthy organizations that don’t need taxpayer support—including the Woodland Park Zoo, an organization that has already received over $177 million in taxpayer subsidies by Seattle and King County residents,” said Alyne Fortgang, Co-founder of Friends.

Friends was created to advocate for humane treatment of the zoo’s elephants and to encourage the elephants’ relocation to an accredited sanctuary. Woodland Park Zoo did relocate elephants Chai and Bamboo in 2015, but to the Oklahoma City Zoo, an even worse zoo for elephants. Chai died within only eight months of arriving in Oklahoma, allegedly from substandard care and negligence. Bamboo survives, but as a victim and aggressor, incompatible with other elephants at the zoo and suffering from chronic health conditions.

“We urged the King County council to exclude the zoo as a recipient of funds from the measure. With millions of dollars in reserve and heavily subsidized already, Woodland Park Zoo needs no more taxpayer support” said Fortgang. “However, Proposition 1 will make the zoo eligible for tens of millions of additional taxpayer dollars while higher priorities like affordable housing, roads, homelessness, education and other human services desperately need funding.” Furthermore, if passed, none of the funding would go to improve the animals’ quality of life in the zoo.

One of the primary sponsors of the Proposition 1 ballot measure on the King County Council is Jeanne Kohl-Welles. However, in addition to serving on the County Council, Ms. Kohl-Welles is member of Woodland Park Zoo’s Board of Directors. “Instead of leading the charge for this ballot measure, Ms. Kohl-Welles should have recused herself. She should not have led the Council’s effort to pass an ordinance that would qualify the zoo, an organization she helps direct, for millions of additional taxpayer dollars” said Fortgang. “This is clearly a conflict of interest that was not disclosed as required by state law.”


World Elephant Day, with Hope


Today is World Elephant Day. We commemorate our huge friends. They have shared the planet with us since humans emerged from the Great Rift. While we crept along, slowly evolving, elephants carried on with the wisdom and beauty of their own lives. They built nurturing and enduring families. They enjoyed their friends and acquaintances, competed and outwitted their rivals. Elephants’ strength and architectural acuity transformed scrubland into savannas, mudflats into water holes. Where they traveled, new opportunities followed. Elephants remain to this day the stewards and anchors of every biome they call home.

Elephants inspired poetry and wonder in us. They also inspired our insatiable greed. We alone are the instruments of elephants’ servitude in circuses and zoos, slaughter by trophy hunting and lust for their ivory. We alone are the instruments of their looming extinction.

The cause of their crisis is undeniable; the solution to their crisis obvious. They are one in the same: they are us.

While we dare not deny our culpability, it is more important that we dedicate ourselves to a new course of action, one calculated to champion their right to live and flourish on Earth as long as we share the planet with them.

This was written by Lisa Kane, JD.

Please join us in showing your enthusiastic support to organizations fighting in Asia and Africa for great arcs of space and freedom where elephants can live out the many decades of their lives with dignity. Here are some organizations that do outstanding work in the field to save wild elephants:

Big Life
The Amboseli Trust for Elephants
Wildlife Trust of India

Here are some petitions to sign:

Tell the US Fish and Wildlife Service to adopt strong protections to stop the ivory trade
Upgrade the Endangered Species Act

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!

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

Transport Crate to Ship out Bamboo and Chai is at Woodland Park Zoo – You can help!

Training Crate

Training Crate at WPZ

Use our click-and-send form to write to city and zoo officials who were involved with decision to move Chai and Bamboo to the Oklahoma City Zoo as well as donors who support Woodland Park Zoo.

Woodland Park Zoo announced on Feb. 27th that Bamboo and Chai would be moved to Oklahoma City Zoo. This decision clearly shows that WPZ does not make the elephants’ quality of life or health a priority. Once at OCZ, there will be 7 elephants in a divided-up 3.2 acres—less space per elephant than they have now. Oklahoma City’s climate is much colder and hotter than Seattle’s forcing the elephants to suffer an even longer lock up in a tiny barn.

With this decision Woodland Park Zoo has ignored science, Seattle’s Mayor and City Council, the media and the values of the community in which it resides.

Read more and then use our click-and-send form:

Ask WPZ donors to be a force for good

Please take a moment to click and send an email to donors of Woodland Park Zoo. We are simply asking them to ask the Zoo to send Bamboo and Chai to a sanctuary. Among the list of donors are: Alaska Airlines, Costco, Safeco, PCC, Cornish College, and Vulcan.

They need to hear from YOU. Please help us send thousands of emails to those who have financial influence over the Zoo.

Click and send form:

Action Alert: Send a Valentine to Seattle’s Mayor and City Council!

Valentine Card

Send this Valentine’s Day card to Seattle’s Mayor and City Council

Celebrate Valentine’s Day by sharing a message of compassion for WPZ’s 2 surviving elephants with Seattle’s Mayor and City Council!

Use our simple form to send a link to this Valentine’s Day message from Bamboo and Chai.

Click here to send the card and make your voice heard on behalf of the Woodland Park Zoo elephants.

Action Alert: Vanpool to Olympia to support HB 1425

A van is headed to Olympia on Feb. 5th filled with elephant advocates to support passage of historic legislation that will help animals.

This legislation would require organizations, like Woodland Park Zoo, which take tax payer dollars to be subject to the Open Records and Open Meetings Act of Washington State. Review bill HB 1425 here.

Title of this bill: Ensuring that entities performing government functions and advisory committees are subject to the open public meetings act and public records act.

WHAT: Hearing that allows public comment to support HB 1425
VAN-POOLING: A large van will meet at the SE corner of the Northgate Mall’s parking
lot in front of Red Robin Restaurant. Easy mall parking.
WHEN: February 5th at 11:15 AM (for 1:30 hearing).
If you’re driving, please arrive at 1:15.
WHERE: WA State Capital, Olympia, WA.
John L. O’Brien Building, 504 15th Ave. SW, Olympia, WA 98504.
Hearing Room E.
WEAR: Orange! Small TRANSPARENCY signs will be provided to pin to your

VERY IMPORTANT: Please, email us if you’re coming so we know what size vehicle to pay for. If you need to cancel, let us know!

Due Diligence Report: Options for Chai and Bamboo

Zoocheck, an organization that has assessed the housing and husbandry of captive wildlife for 20 years, delivered a report recently to Seattle’s Mayor and City Council. This exhaustive report, Due Diligence Report: Options for Chai and Bamboo, examines all Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) and Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries (GFAS) accredited facilities in the U.S. that hold Asian elephants. Link to report below.

Chai in barn stall


Our review of this report’s findings shows that none of these AZA-accredited zoos exceeds the conditions found at Woodland Park Zoo (WPZ). The report validates what Friends of Woodland Park Zoo Elephants has asserted for years: only a GFAS accredited sanctuary can provide Bamboo and Chai with care for the rest of their lives in an environment that will allow them to heal from the harm caused by their lifelong zoo confinement. Science and the zoo industry’s own statistics shows that elephants in zoos die young and suffer from captivity-induced conditions.



None of these zoos can give Bamboo and Chai more space per elephant than they have now. None can provide open space or pastures for foraging. Many of these zoos are in cold climates that would force them to be locked up in a tiny, barren barn stall longer than they are now. All appear to have hardpan ground and hard barn floors. About a third of these zoos still use the bullhook, an archaic method of managing elephants through pain and fear. This is important to know because if Bamboo or Chai don’t integrate with other elephants in a zoo, or for any reason, they can be moved to a decrepit zoo.

One only needs to look at Watoto’s death to understand what happens to an elephant confined in atiny zoo display. When her keepers came to work on the morning of August 21st, 2014 they found her down. Her advanced arthritis and lameness caused by a lifetime of standing on hard substrates, and a lifetime of lack of movement, made her so debilitated that she couldn’t raise herself. As is the case in most, if not all zoos, Woodland Park Zoo does not have 24/7 monitoring. (The Elephant Sanctuary in TN and PAWS in CA both have 24/7 monitoring.) If Watoto had been found sooner and if the Fire Department with a crane had been called in, she might be alive today.

Check out this video on the issue of sending WPZ’s surviving elephants to a sanctuary vs. another zoo

We hope Woodland Park Zoo management and the Zoo Board will not allow Bamboo and Chai to suffer and die the same fate as Watoto.

We hope they will study this Due Diligence Report and have empathy for these intelligent, far-ranging elephants. This means choosing a sanctuary for Bamboo and Chai’s retirement from beingon display. Let’s not allow Bamboo and Chai to suffer and die without ever having roamed the wooded acres of a sanctuary. Let’s keep the pressure on Seattle’s Mayor and City Council to use their authority to act. Go to our You Can Help page

Read the Due Diligence Report

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