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Published on Mar 11, 2015
Learn more at freewpzelephants.org
In November of 2014, after almost a decade of refusing to acknowledge the harmful effects of the zoo environment upon elephants, Woodland Park Zoo announced the closure of its elephant exhibit. For that we commend them, but the plan to send Bamboo and Chai to Oklahoma City Zoo for more of the same, is unacceptable.
Confining elephants in a small space so they can be viewed is inherently cruel. Scientific American says: “Confined elephants often spend their time standing around in cramped quarters. These torturous conditions inflict serious physical and psychological damage on such smart and sensitive animals...if the zoos have the animals’ best interests at heart, they would close their elephant exhibits.”
Zoo conditions took the ultimate toll on Watoto: lack of movement and standing on hard substrate caused her advanced arthritis and lameness. And once down, Watoto, an otherwise healthy elephant, was too debilitated to get up. Woodland Park Zoo, like most zoos, does not monitor their elephants. And when Watoto was discovered to have fallen, the Zoo did not call in the assistance of the fire department with a crane to raise Watoto which might have saved her life.
PAWS sanctuary in California offers round-the-clock monitoring and gives elephants a quality of life unmatched by zoos.
What might life at another zoo look like? Consider Sri, an Asian elephant that Woodland Park Zoo sent to the St. Louis Zoo in 2002. She is one of 10 elephants crowded into a 2 acre yard there. The brutally cold climate forces her into a tiny cell for most of the long winter. In response to an email inquiring about Sri’s welfare, Woodland Park Zoo replied: “[St Louis Zoo’s] elephants live in state-of-the-art homes with lots of space . . . Sri is in excellent hands and continues to thrive.” But video shows her in a cramped elephant yard rocking back and forth, known as "stereotypic behavior" which is a sign of stress in elephants.
Bamboo and Chai have been confined in a zoo since they were taken from their mothers as babies. No facility can give them back their family but only at PAWS can we offer them a life that immerses them in nature. (Show clip of elephants in woods from PAWS video while saying this.)
It’s time to listen to the citizens of Seattle and honor their conscience. Let’s send Bamboo and Chai to live out their lives off display at PAWS – anything less diminishes our humanity.