Praise Zoo’s Abandonment of Elephant Captivity Program

Uneven Match - Elephants of Coimbatore

Target: Woodland Park Zoo President and CEO Dr. Deborah Jensen

Goal: Applaud decision to end the captive elephant program and relocate elephants to a healthy environment

Woodland Park Zoo will soon no longer keep or display live elephants, according to a recent announcement on the Seattle-based facility’s website. The zoo has a history of alarming animal activists with its treatment of its elephants who, advocates argue, have been living in an outdated, too-small space for too long. Advocates also point to the fact that by forcing two different species (Asian elephants and an African elephant) to share the same space, the zoo could be causing psychological damage to these creatures and depriving the African elephant in particular of adequate companionship. The group In Defense of Animals (IDA) put the zoo on its list of Ten Worst Zoos for Elephants for the seventh time in 2013. This controversy came to a head in August 2014 when Watoto, the only African elephant, died unexpectedly.

In 2013 the Woodland Park Zoo was preparing to update its facility and add more elephants, but now the Woodland Park Zoo will be relocating its two Asian elephants, 35-year-old Chai and 47-year-old Bamboo, to another facility. The zoo’s president and CEO, Dr. Deborah Jensen, said in a statement that they “have found that adding to the herd of our two aging elephants is not realistic in the foreseeable future.” However, advocates are concerned that Bamboo and Chai will go to another zoo, not a sanctuary where they could live comfortably in a more natural habitat. The decision hasn’t yet been announced, though Jensen said Bamboo and Chai will be placed at another Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA)- accredited facility “that shares our commitment to animal health and welfare and conservation through education, and provides viewing access to the animals.”

Being put on display is the opposite of what these two aging elephants need and deserve. Tell the zoo to reconsider sending Bamboo and Chai to another zoo, and instead relocate them to a sanctuary where they can live peacefully.


Dear Dr. Deborah Jensen,

As President and CEO of Woodland Park Zoo, you have the power to give the zoo’s last aging elephants a chance at happiness by sending them to an elephant sanctuary. The zoo has already made great strides with the decision to end the captive elephant program and relocate Chai and Bamboo. However, I believe that it would be a mistake to send them to another zoo where they would continue to be on display instead of given enough room to relax and enjoy themselves in a more natural habitat.

Please consider sending Bamboo and Chai to a sanctuary where they could live with plenty of space among other rescued elephants. Bamboo and Chai need and deserve the freedom, peace, and dignity of a life that doesn’t involve being a spectacle. Please make the right decision for the well-being and happiness of these beautiful creatures.


[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: Mohan Raj via Wikimedia Commons

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One Comment

  1. Daniela Bress says:

    Looong overdue – send these precious creatures to a sanctuary!

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