- 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
Elephants Get Brief Reprieve to Have Their Day in Court
Elephant Justice Project (EJP) was created for Bamboo and Chai and all the elephants that suffer and die young in impoverished zoo environments.
EJP filed a law suit in King County Superior Court which challenges the Woodland Park Zoological Society’s claim to have ownership over the elephants and its authority to unilaterally move them to the Oklahoma City Zoo. Washington State’s Legislature passed a law in 2000 that allowed the City of Seattle to contract with the Zoo Society to operate and manage the zoo, but the City had no legal authority to give away all of the animals and equipment. Our state Constitution prohibits such gifts. The 2002 Operating Agreement giving Chai and Bamboo to the Zoo Society is illegal and unconstitutional, so the Zoo Society has no authority to decide their fate.
This proposed move to Oklahoma City Zoo goes against the wishes of Mayor Murray, the City Council majority, and Seattle taxpayers, who support retiring Bamboo and Chai to a sanctuary. Unfortunately, the Mayor and City Council appear to be pandering to the powerful few on the Zoo Society’s Board and have declined to use their authority to order the retirement of Bamboo and Chai to a sanctuary.
With the Mayor and City Council deferring to the Zoo Society, EJP had no other choice than to sue. The lawsuit is a reprieve for the elephants, who will now have their day in court!
There is still time for our elected officials to show progressive leadership and honor the wishes and values of their constituents. Please help us persuade them to help Bamboo and Chai get to sanctuary. Please write, call and/or tweet Seattle’s City Council and Mayor.
Mayor Murray: 206-684-4000
Councilmember Sally Bagshaw: 206-684-8801
email@example.com, Sally.Clark@seattle.gov, firstname.lastname@example.org, Kshama.Sawant@seattle.gov, Tim.Burgess@seattle.gov, email@example.com, Jean.Godden@seattle.gov, Bruce.Harrell@seattle.gov, Mike.Obrien@seattle.gov, Nick.Licata@seattle.gov, Tom.Rasmussen@seattle.gov, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, (Ignore Mayor Murray’s auto reply.)
Dear Mayor Murray and City Council Members:
Woodland Park Zoo (WPZ) stands poised to transfer Chai and Bamboo to Oklahoma City Zoo (OCZ) within the next few days or weeks. This decision was taken without regard to the community’s wishes and in arrogant abrogation of your written request to the zoo that it consider a sanctuary option.
WPZ’s actions will condemn our elephants to live out their twilight years in a zoo whose elephant program belongs in the 1950’s. The blatant shortcomings of OCZ are appalling and numerous: a most inhospitable climate, a small and cramped exhibit space that will make effective quarantine difficult if not impossible should its male elephant, who has tested positive for antibodies to TB, develop the disease, the frequent close confinement of elephants inside the barn in spaces antithetical to their natural needs, especially during cold weather, the harassment of their elephants through regular performances of circus-style tricks, the close proximity of a loud rock amphitheater adjacent to the elephant exhibit, and the cruel use of electric prods during the labor and delivery of their most recent elephant calf.
This should not be Chai and Bamboo’s fate.
The City of Seattle reserved powers to itself in the Management Agreement with WPZ to weigh in and take part in all animal disposition decisions. Section 15.3 specifically provides that animal disposition decisions are subject to City policy. Stoel Rives, one of Seattle’s finest law firms and wholly independent of the politics of this controversy, agrees:
Under Section 15.3 of the 2001 Operating and Management Agreement, WPZS may dispose of Zoo Animals, but any such disposition must comply with “existing and any adopted . . . disposition policies approved by the City.” We understand this language as giving the City authority to adopt policies regarding disposition of the elephants that WPZS must follow.
This means that WPZ can go forward with its cruel plan only if you, our elected officials, fail to stop it.
Your constituents have clearly shown they want our elephants retired to a warm spacious sanctuary where management is based entirely upon on the elephants’ needs with no pandering to a controlling zoo industry.
This could be your last opportunity to champion the community’s conscience and the opinions of elephant experts worldwide. Failure to act, when the tools to correct this great injustice are in your hands and when the elephants need you the most, will greatly distress the large Seattle community that has shown how much it cares for Chai and Bamboo and their future.
A draft resolution is attached. We call on you to take all action necessary to exercise your authority under the Management Agreement, to champion our rightful place in the vanguard of progressive cities, and to save our elephants from a cruel end.
Lisa Kane, JD
Alyne Fortgang, Co-founder, Friends of Woodland Park Zoo Elephants
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: www.freewpzelephants.org/transfer
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: http://www.freewpzelephants.org/letter
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.
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. WPZelephants@yahoo.com If you need to cancel, let us know!
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.
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.
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
Thanks to all our supporters over the years! If you weren’t able to show up this week to sing holiday carols at City Hall, enjoy these beautiful renditions of three of our custom carols as performed by our talented friends: Michelle Wolfe Paul, Susana Brizuela and Marcus Yetter. Bravo!
And please take a moment to write to City Council encouraging them to send Chai and Bamboo to the sanctuary.
Guest columnist Lyn Tangen writes an opinion piece for the Seattle Times urging Seattle to send WPZ’s two surviving elephants, Chai and Bamboo, to a sanctuary instead of another cramped zoo. Here’s an excerpt:
As a member of the Woodland Park Zoo Elephant Task Force, I reviewed the zoo’s elephant program. I strongly disagree with the zoo board’s decision to send Chai and Bamboo to another zoo. Chai and Bamboo should go to an elephant sanctuary.
In a sanctuary such as PAWS (Performing Animal Welfare Society) in Northern California, elephants have many acres in which to roam without restraint. No one can seriously doubt that elephants that have 15 or more acres to roam are better off than elephants crammed into a 1 or 2 acre exhibit in a zoo.
Standards for elephant sanctuaries established by the Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries are in many cases more stringent than the Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA) accreditation standards for zoos. Sanctuaries are licensed and monitored by the same governmental agencies as zoos.
Years ago, Bamboo was sent to the Point Defiance Zoo to be with more Asian elephants. She did not integrate into the existing herd and was returned to the Woodland Park Zoo. If Chai and Bamboo are sent to another zoo, they could end up living just as they do now, a herd of two in crowded space — or worse, separated and bounced from zoo to zoo.