Target: Woodland Park Zoo
Goal: Release the elephants of the WPZ to a Tennessee sanctuary
Three elephants inhabit a puny acre at Seattle’s Woodland Park Zoo. Like many other confined elephants, Chai, Bamboo, and Watoto spend their lives on one acre of land. Adding insult to the psychological injury of living as a display, the elephants spend 16-17 hours a day in their small barn for over half the year while Seattle experiences inclement weather. They pace, rock, and fidget constantly.
Keepers want to hang on to the elephants because they draw visitors, and act as an icon for drawing funds for elephant conservation. They hope to breed the elderly female, Watoto, who carries herpes that killed her previous calf when it was very young. Chai has been inseminated at least 59 times, suffered numerous miscarriages, and one of her calves died in a pool of diarrhea.
Elephants are highly social and intelligent beyond the scope of human research. Their communication and kinship needs are at least as complex as those of dolphins and primates. Since we humans share many of their psychological and emotional complexities, it makes sense to respect our interspecies similarities and relocate the elephants to a 2700-acre sanctuary in Tennessee where they can comfortably reside with room to exercise and graze in privacy.
Attorneys for the City of Seattle recite that the animals are not mistreated, but there seems to be a conflict of interest when the zoo is funded partially by taxpayer dollars and sits on city land. The living conditions violate state and local animal cruelty laws, but the exhibit remains. Of course, when welfare regulations are written in the first place, they are drafted from the human’s point of view, and pave guidelines where human interests like profitability are maximized, while sincere animal welfare is an afterthought.
Former director of the zoo David Hancocks adds, “One needs to question why the Zoo is so very desperate to hold on to elephants. Their logic is surely based on vested interests. More puzzling is why they are so content, even proud, to keep the elephants in such bad conditions.” Tell officials at the Woodland Park Zoo to release these animals and let them live the rest of their lives in peace and comfort.
Dear Zoo Officials,
We urge you to take Chai, Bamboo, and Watoto’s best interests in the highest consideration when deciding to send them to a sanctuary where their biological and psychological needs could be better fulfilled. The exhibit you have is embarrassing, and visitors leave with nothing but a sick feeling in their hearts after witnessing the broken-souled elephants sway in boredom.
Realizing that these complex animals deserve better, we urge you to release them to the Tennessee sanctuary and redeem some respect as animal welfare advocates. Since charity starts at home, you cannot advocate elephant preservation in the wild while displaying the fatigued shells of these majestic animals at your facility. Surely, the public would acknowledge your selfless acts as honorable, and continue to visit your park where other animals live under more humane circumstances. We demand that you humbly release these elephants that are hostages of capitalistic interests to the sanctuary in Tennessee.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Friends of Woodland Park Zoo Elephants