Category: Action Alert

Councilmember Sawant, a true advocate for WPZ elephants

Seattle Councilmember Kshama Sawant is truly a hero for the elephants and all animals.  She is thanking YOU!  Please take the time to thank her for her support: and please cc your email to the other city members so they know what you expect of them:  to use their authority to secure the retirement of Bamboo and Chai to PAWS sanctuary:,,,,,,,

Here is Councilmember Sawant’s letter:

Dear Sisters and Brothers,

Congratulations on your victory closing the elephant exhibit at the Woodland Park Zoo, and on your continued struggle to see the elephants sent to sanctuary rather than to another zoo. Your organizing and persistence are truly inspiring.

Given your activism around this issue, I thought you might be interested in my recent interview for an online animal rights publication. I discussed your struggle, animal rights, and the importance of unity in the broader fight for social justice. I am interested in hearing your ideas.


Kshama Sawant

Response to Woodland Park Zoo’s scheme to send Bamboo and Chai to another zoo

Sri at St. Louis Zoo

Sri in her cage at the St. Louis Zoo. This is where Woodland Park Zoo sent her.

Woodland Park Zoo announced it would be closing the elephant exhibit. We commend them for taking this action as the exhibit is inadequate and our climate is unsuitable for elephants. That’s the good news. Unfortunately they want to send Bamboo and Chai, the two surviving elephants, to another zoo. This is not commendable nor is it in the elephants’ best interest.

Bamboo and Chai have lived in a tiny zoo display since they were taken from their mothers as babies. They deserve space and peace in a sanctuary—in a warm climate.

Once Bamboo and Chai leave Seattle, we will have no ability to control what happens to them. They could be moved again, and again. Moving elephants around like furniture is not uncommon in the zoo industry.

Deborah Jensen, President and CEO of Woodland Park Zoo said that Bamboo and Chai would be “relocated together to an Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) facility that shares our commitment to animal health and welfare and conservation through education, and provides viewing access to the animals.”

Deborah Jensen is obviously not aware that PAWS Arc 2000 sanctuary in California engages in conservation and education. PAWS’ commitment to the health and welfare of the elephants in their charge is obviously greater than Woodland Park Zoo’s since PAWS monitors their elephants 24/7. We are not aware of a single zoo that monitors elephants 24/7. Had Watoto, who the Zoo euthanized in August, been monitored she might be alive today.

PAWS has a fundamental difference in philosophy about allowing animals to be viewed. Once an animal lives at PAWS, their life is given back to them and they no longer live on display.

The Mayor and City Council have the authority to approve or disapprove the disposition of the animals in the zoo. We are asking that they use their authority to require that Bamboo and Chai go to a facility accredited by the Global Federation of Sanctuaries like PAWS—anything less goes against science and their constituents’ values.

Help wild elephant and rhinos: sign petition and donate

Friends of Woodland Park Zoo Elephants has worked tirelessly to give Seattle’s elephants Bamboo, Chai and Watoto a much deserved retirement to sanctuary after decades of confinement at Woodland Park Zoo. Sadly, Watoto died before this could happen.

Although our cause is local, we have never lost sight of the growing crisis of elephants worldwide who die young due to the poaching crisis of unequaled savagery and consequence. But let’s not forget that elephants confined in zoos die young as well: Watoto was only 45 years old.

We are asking that you help elephants and rhinos in the wild who are in danger of imminent extinction. Please help the anti-poaching efforts of these extraordinary organizations by donating to their worthy and perilous efforts:

Big Life:
African Wildlife Fund:
Save the Elephants:
Wild Aid: Working in China to stop demand.
Endangered Species Protection Fund:

Sign this petition to help:

From African Wildlife Foundation’s web site:

Rhinos: In the wild, the adult black or white rhino has no predators except for humans. Rhinos are hunted and killed for their horns. One rhino is killed every 20 hours in South Africa alone. The major demand for rhino horn is in Asia, where it is used in ornamental carvings and traditional medicine. Rhino horn is touted as a cure for hangovers, cancer, and impotence. Their horns are not true horns; they are actually made of keratin—the same material that makes up our hair and nails. Truly, rhino horn is as effective at curing cancer as chewing on your fingernails.

Elephants: The large tusks on either side of the elephant’s face—used to forage for food and water—have long been desired by people. Poachers kill elephants for their ivory, which is then sold and made into anything from jewelry to religious objects. About 100 elephants are killed every day. At current poaching rates, elephant populations may not survive 10 years in the wild.

Action Alert: Show City Council your commitment to retiring the two surviving elephants

Elephant advocates at City Council

Elephant advocates at a previous City Council

What: A showing of commitment at the FULL Council meeting. Kids are encouraged to come.

When: Monday, September 22, at 1:30pm

Where: Seattle City Hall, 600 4th Ave, Seattle, WA 98104

Meet at 1:30pm in front of City Hall at the 4th and Cherry entrance. We will head up to the City Hall chambers on the second floor at 1:45pm to attend the 2pm City Council meeting.

FREE: t-shirts provided with the message: Seattle ♥ Elephants ♥ Sanctuary

Please reply to let us know you if you will be wearing an orange t-shirt from a previous event or if we need to order one for you.

Watoto euthanized today at WPZ – Vigil tomorrow at noon



Today is very sad day. Watoto was euthanized. She died without ever having had a good day.

Watoto’s life must not be in vain. Bamboo and Chai must find peace and health in a sanctuary.

Watoto was discovered down when the keepers arrived this morning. Unable to get her up, the Zoo’s staff decided to euthanize her. This brings up many questions: why aren’t the elephants monitored 24/7 as they are at the sanctuaries? What are the zoo’s policies for a downed elephant? Do they have adequate equipment to lift an elephant?

Watoto was only 45 years old. In the wild, she would have been in the prime of her life; still bearing calves. Confinement in a zoo takes a physical and psychological toll on these far-ranging and intelligent animals. The zoo industry’s own statistics show that elephants die young.

Woodland Park Zoo denied Watoto of one her greatest needs–companionship of her own kind. After being ripped from her mother in Africa as a baby, Watoto never set eyes on another African elephant. The zoo also denied Watoto the opportunity to spend her remaining years in a sanctuary.

Watoto in the yard at WPZ

Watoto in the yard at WPZ

Watoto suffered from a host of chronic captivity-related diseases as a result of living her entire life in the cramped quarters of Woodland Park Zoo.

Woodland Park Zoo is an exceptionally poor environment. The elephants are locked outdoors in less than 1 acre. Indoors, the elephants are locked in barren cages, standing on hard substrate and only able to walk a few steps in any direction. This lockup, due to our climate, lasts 16-17 hours a day, every day, for over half of the year. Scientific American describes this as: “tortuous conditions [which] inflict serious physical and psychological damage on such smart and sensitive animals.”

We hope that Watoto’s suffering and death will not be in vain. We are very grateful for Seattle’s Mayor Murray’s statement that  we should “reopen a dialogue in this city about the proper habitat for elephants.”  We need him to go farther: Bamboo and Chai need to retire to a sanctuary.

Please write to ask the Mayor and the City Council to order the zoo to release Bamboo and Chai to a sanctuary. They have the authority.,,,,,,,,,

Click here for the Zoo’s press release.

Vigil Saturday at Noon

We will have hold a vigil/ peaceful demonstration at the street entrance to Woodland Park Zoo’s south entrance tomorrow at noon.

What:  Vigil for beautiful Watoto
When: Saturday, August 23, 2014 at noon
Where:  Street entrance to the Zoo’s south entrance at N. 50th and Fremont Ave. N.

Rest in peace, Watoto.


Action Alert: Join us in the courtroom!

Friends of Woodland Park Zoo Elephants has filed numerous public disclosure requests to the Zoo. In response to requests for basic financial and animal welfare information, the Zoo has stated it doesn’t have specific records or supplied grossly inaccurate information. The Zoo claimed it isn’t subject to Washington State’s Public Records Act. In order to hold the Zoo accountable, we filed a lawsuit on March 12, 2014: Fortgang v. Woodland Park Zoo. The request for summary judgment will be heard this Friday, July 25th at 1:30pm.

Please come to fill the courtroom with elephant advocates!

What: Request for summary judgment for Fortgang v. Woodland Park Zoo
When: Friday, July 25th, 2014 at 1:30pm
Where: King County Superior Court. 516 Third Avenue, Seattle, WA 98104
Honorable Judge Jean Rietschel’s courtroom.

What is the zoo hiding?

Chai artificial insemination

Chai – Artificial insemination, photo credit: The Seattle Times

The Zoo has taken over $108 million dollars from tax payers since 2002. The Zoo has use of city parkland and city buildings RENT FREE. The Zoo acquired their “product”, the animals, for FREE. Yet the Zoo has refused to answer the most basic details about the welfare of Bamboo, Chai and Watoto, the three elephants confined in the Zoo. When it did respond, some information was not accurate—such as how many times Chai was artificially inseminated or where the water sources are located in the yard. More recently, the Zoo has refused to provide records on the imminent transfer of Watoto to another Zoo. Despite acknowledging that the Zoo is communicating with other zoos, it says it has no records.

Please come to show the judge WE ARE WATCHING


Elephant advocates go to City Hall asking for 43 years of zoo lock up of Watoto to end

For Immediate Release

Monday, July 14th (Seattle, WA) – Friends of Woodland Park Zoo Elephants and area advocates will attend today’s Seattle City Council meeting en masse to urge the City Council to exercise its authority to persuade Woodland Park Zoo to retire Watoto, one of the Zoo’s elephants, to a sanctuary. The Zoo announced it will send Watoto to another zoo by the end of the year.

Woodland Park Zoo has refused to provide records on Watoto’s imminent transfer and is currently fighting a lawsuit calling for the Zoo to be transparent.

The Council meeting marks 43 years this month since Watoto was taken from her mother as a baby.  She was shipped from Kenya to Woodland Park Zoo into an impoverished life of confinement.  Watoto suffers from a plethora of physical and psychological ailments. She could heal in a sanctuary by roaming vast spaces and bonding with elephants of her choosing—all in a warm climate.

Lisa Kane, JD, a noted international elephant expert, will address the Council.

What: Seattle City Council meeting

When: Monday, July 14th, Advocates will meet at 1:30 pm in front of City Hall at the 4th and Cherry entrance, then head upstairs to the City Hall chambers for the 2pm meeting.

Where: Seattle City Hall at 600 4th Ave, Seattle, WA 98104.

A recent survey showed that a super majority of Seattleites want the Zoo’s elephants retired to a sanctuary. To date, 28 zoos have closed or will close their elephant exhibits, including Tacoma’s Pt. Defiance Zoo.

“The Zoo has received over $100 million dollars in taxpayer money from the City and King County, making Watoto’s welfare all of our responsibility” says Alyne Fortgang, Co-founder of Friends of Woodland Park Zoo Elephants.

Action Alert: WPZ to send Watoto to another zoo

Watoto poster for 7.14.14 city councilWoodland Park Zoo intends to ship Watoto to another zoo SOON. We are very concerned that she will be sent to live in another impoverished exhibit. Please attend this City Council meeting to show your support for Watoto to spend her final years in a sanctuary.

What: Seattle City Council meeting
When: Monday, July 14th, 1:30pm
Where: Seattle City Hall at 600 4th Ave, Seattle, WA 98104.

Meet at 1:30pm in front of City Hall at the 4th and Cherry entrance. We will head up to the City Hall chambers on the second floor at 1:45pm to attend the City Council meeting.

FREE: t-shirts provided with the message:  Seattle ♥ WatotoSanctuary

RSVP: Please reply to if you can attend so we know how many t-shirts to order.

Print this poster and distribute. Thanks!

To learn more about Watoto, click here.

Lily Tomlin calls for retirement of elephants to sanctuary; Silent meditation at Zoo on anniversary of Hansa’s death

A silent meditation will be held by concerned citizens calling for the retirement of Woodland Park Zoo’s three elephants to a sanctuary and in memory of baby elephant Hansa’s death.

Lily Tomlin, actor, comedian and elephant advocate is unable to attend but issued this statement: “It is unconscionable that Woodland Park Zoo would expand the elephant program by adding elephants without adding space. The 1-acre yard is too small for the elephants they have now and Seattle’s climate forces the elephants into tiny barn cages for a prolonged amount of time. Science has shown that elephants suffer physical and psychological harm due to inadequate space. The Zoo should retire the elephants to a sanctuary where they can live out their days in a humane way.”

A super-majority of Seattleites agree with Ms. Tomlin: a recent survey showed 62% of Seattleites support the retirement of the elephants to a sanctuary in a warmer climate with a vast amount of space.

The silent sitting also marks the 7th anniversary of baby elephant Hansa’s death at the zoo. An internal memo showed that the Zoo knew Hansa’s mother, Chai, could bring the deadly virus back from the Zoo in which she was bred. All three elephants have been exposed to the deadly herpes virus that killed Hansa, yet Woodland Park Zoo hopes to continue breeding.

When: Saturday, June 7th, 2014 at 11:15 AM -12:30 PM

Where: Woodland Park Zoo, Seattle, WA. Meet us at the West Entrance of the Zoo off Phinney Ave.: 5500 Phinney Ave. N., Seattle WA 98103. Follow the West Entrance path inside and meet us across from the ticket window.

What: We will hold two short meditations. The first will be at the plaza inside the West Entrance across from the ticket counter. The second will be on the steps of the elephant exhibit inside the zoo.

“Seattleites love our elephants so much that they selflessly want Bamboo, Chai and Watoto retired to a sanctuary. Our city’s conscience dictates that we do so immediately” says Alyne Fortgang, Co-founder of Friends of Woodland Park Zoo Elephants.

Honoring baby elephant Hansa, June 7th

Baby Hansa

Baby Hansa

Join us for a short silent meditation in honor of the 7th anniversary of baby elephant Hansa’s death and to show continued commitment for the retirement of Bamboo, Chai and Watoto to a sanctuary.

When: Saturday, June 7th, 11AM-12:30PM

Where: Inside West Entrance of Woodland Park Zoo off Phinney Ave. between N. 55th and N. 56th . Follow the West Entrance path inside and we will meet across from the ticket window.

What: We will hold two short sittings in demonstration. The first will be at the plaza inside the West Entrance across from the ticket counter. The second will be at the elephant exhibit inside the zoo.

  • Free T-shirts with our message for the first 50 people.
  • Zoo entry fee defrayment available for those who want to attend the sitting at the elephant exhibit and are in need.
  • A cushion or towel may be a good idea to bring to sit on.

Are you in? The elephants need your support! RSVP now at

« Previous PageNext Page »