Cash Cows

Is the Woodland Park Zoo Mistreating Its Elephants?

Cash Cows

kelly o

People will pay fistfuls of cash to see a baby anything. When a female Asian elephant was born at the Woodland Park Zoo in 2000, the zoo's "name the baby elephant" contest generated nearly 16,000 entries. Zoo employees privately proposed naming her Cash Cow—female elephants are called cows—but she was officially named Hansa, meaning "supreme happiness" in Thai. (Asian elephants are native to the hot jungles of Southeast Asia and India.) After Hansa's birth, attendance at the Woodland Park Zoo doubled. Then, at age 6, Hansa was found dead in the elephant barn by zookeepers. Her death was caused by elephant herpes, a disease that kills nearly 90 percent of infected young Asian elephants in captivity and was likely passed on through her mother, Chai, a wild Asian elephant gifted to the zoo in 1980.

The zoo has tried to artificially inseminate Chai at least 57 times since acquiring her, according to a lawsuit that will have its first hearing on May 27. (The lawsuit is the source of the allegation about employees calling the baby Cash Cow.) All those attempts to get Chai knocked up have resulted in only one live birth (Hansa) and many miscarriages. "These miscarriages have caused Chai to suffer both physical and psychological pain," the suit alleges.

Elephants—intelligent, self-aware, and capable of empathy—mourn their dead, from stillborns to old matriarchs. In captivity and the wild, they've been observed rocking and keening over stillborns. "That's not an anthropomorphic exaggeration," says Dr. Gay Bradshaw, the author of Elephants on the Edge, which explores elephant psychology and behavior in captivity and the wild. "Elephants have a capacity psychologically and emotionally that's comparable to ours." When Hansa died, her mother and the other elephants were given time alone to smell and touch her body to pay their last respects. (Presumably, there's a 90 percent chance that will happen again if Chai gives birth again—the zoo's most recent attempt to impregnate her was in March.)

Chai lives with two other female elephants—Bamboo and Watoto—in the Woodland Park Zoo's one-acre elephant enclosure, whimsically named the Thai Village. You get there by following the Trail of Vines past the swimming grotto and through the Elephant Forest. But the exhibit isn't as idyllic as its Candy Land–ish name portends: The enclosure consists of grubby fields, a concrete pool, and the Elephant Barn, where Chai, Bamboo, and Watoto hide out when temperatures dip below 40 degrees.

"Is he dancing?" a child in front of the Elephant Barn's large Plexiglas windows asked her mother the other day. In the barn's shower room, Bamboo rocked gently in place, her head pointed at the wall. Picture books don't prepare children for real-life elephants—their sparse hair, canyon-deep wrinkles, or magnificent bigness. The elephants tower over the children like breathing buildings.

"He is dancing!" Mom replied.

The zoo argues that the elephant exhibit is important because elephants are endangered and their presence helps educate the public and spur conservation efforts. But the education element in the Thai Village is pretty sparse—nothing you couldn't learn from a children's book—and it's printed on plaques no one reads. "There have been empirical studies of how long people stay at exhibits, and if they read the signs, that show people don't learn much from the exhibits," says Matthew Liebman, the Animal Legal Defense Fund lawyer handling the lawsuit. A 2010 study in the peer-reviewed journal Society & Animals with Dr. Lori Marino as its lead author concurs—finding that "there is no compelling evidence to date that zoos and aquariums promote attitude changes, education, or interest in conservation in their visitors, despite claims to the contrary."

Even the mom and her kid looking at Bamboo haven't learned a thing about her—like, for instance, Bamboo is not a he. And for what it's worth, Bamboo is not dancing. The movement Bamboo is making is "an exhibition of profound distress or trauma," explains Dr. Bradshaw. Captive elephants exhibit a host of specific behaviors, Dr. Bradshaw continues, including lethargy, aggression, and "behaviors consistent with people who are held captive and suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder. We see the same in elephants."

While Bamboo rocked in the shower room, Watoto and Chai were stretching their trunks into lofted barrels of alfalfa inside the barn's main room, pulling out tufts of food and tucking it into their mouths. Occasionally, Watoto stopped eating to pace the room. Watoto and Chai weigh more than 8,000 pounds and are between 12 and 15 feet long. The space in the barn they share is smaller than a tennis court. Watoto can't easily turn around with Chai in the room. She must back up instead—an elephant in reverse. Even though elephants are incredibly social creatures, Bamboo and Watoto don't get along and must be separated at all times, so there's very little socializing.

Experts with the World Wildlife Fund estimate that elephants in captivity should have a minimum of 247 acres to roam. Elephants are accustomed to walking up to 20 miles a day in the wild, and daily walks keep their feet healthy. The lawsuit charges that Chai, Bamboo, and Watoto sharing a single acre has caused preventable foot and joint problems. "Bamboo and Watoto both suffer from osteoarthritis, a degenerative and painful joint disease," the suit states. "Bamboo and Chai suffer from... pockets of fluid and pus that often develop above the nails of the foot or underneath the foot and are very painful." Elephant osteoarthritis and foot abscesses are caused by standing on hard surfaces, lack of movement, excessive moisture, and excess weight, the suit contends.

Moreover, Highway 99 runs right past Woodland Park Zoo's elephant enclosure. Elephants use their feet to communicate, and local animal rights activists say the constant traffic vibrations contribute to their abusive environment. "We have no idea how those vibrations affect them," says Alyne Fortgang, codirector of Friends of Woodland Park Zoo Elephants, one of three local groups that has unsuccessfully lobbied since 2005 to get the zoo's elephants retired to a 2,700-acre elephant sanctuary in Tennessee, one of two such sanctuaries in the nation. (Fortgang is not a party to the current lawsuit.) "But common sense tells us it can't be a perk of the environment."

Lawsuits filed by activists against zoos are nothing new, but last year Mary Sebek and Nancy Farnam took the unusual step of filing suit not against the zoo but against the City of Seattle—only the second lawsuit in the country taken out against a city for supporting "illegal zoo practices." (The other lawsuit is in Los Angeles and also concerns elephant welfare; it's currently in litigation.)

In spite of protests from activists for years, the zoo flatly refuses to send its elephants to the Tennessee sanctuary. The zoo did send a fourth elephant it owns, Sri, to the Saint Louis Zoo in 2002, but not because it could provide a better home for her. The zoo sent her there to make baby elephants as part of an inter-zoo breeding program. At one point in Saint Louis, Sri became pregnant, but her full-term fetus died in utero. Surgery to remove the fetus would be incredibly complicated, expensive, and risky—it's simply not done. Instead, most elephants succumb to infection caused by the decaying fetus inside them and die. Surprisingly, Sri has not died. According to the lawsuit, "Sri has been carrying the deceased, slowly mummifying fetus in her birth canal for more than four years."

The aim of Sebek and Farnam's suit is to halt the $6.5 million flow of taxpayer funds that the zoo gets annually. "The city owes the public not to waste public dollars or misuse public space," says Liebman, the Animal Legal Defense Fund lawyer. "We're arguing that the city is funding the private zoo society to indulge in illegal practices. It's not in the public's best interest." The lawsuit claims the zoo violates state and local animal cruelty laws by "knowingly and recklessly inflicting unnecessary pain and suffering on its elephants." The suit cites abusive breeding practices, exposure to beatings, extended periods of confinement, subjecting the elephants to the "severe and chronic foot and joint injuries" mentioned earlier, as well as "unexplained physical trauma and bleeding, and sustained psychological harm."

I tried to get the Woodland Park Zoo's side of the story, but when I asked how much revenue the elephants bring in, a zoo representative declined to comment, citing the lawsuit (the zoo is a codefendant). When I inquired if I could ask more general questions about the zoo, another declined and sent me a press release, which states:

Woodland Park Zoo vigorously disputes the plaintiffs' characterization of our elephant care program. Our elephants are healthy and thriving—they have healthy appetites, they play, they socialize, they vocalize, and they interact with their herd mates and keepers. We are committed to the lifelong and day-to-day care of our elephants... As an institution accredited by the Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA), which sets the highest standards of animal care for all species, our zoo meets or exceeds all of AZA's Standards for Elephant Management and Care.

"Accreditation doesn't mean they have the elephants' best interests in mind," Liebman counters. "The AZA is essentially a trade organization—its job is to promote zoos. Elephants are marquee attractions—they make money. So the AZA has fought almost every attempt to move elephants out of zoos. Even in Detroit, where elephants have no place being, they've fought transferring them."

The Detroit Zoo is the only zoo in the nation to voluntarily retire all of its elephants to a sanctuary. The Bronx Zoo has stated that it will shut down its two-acre elephant exhibit once the elephants living there now die off. Even the Point Defiance Zoo in Tacoma acknowledges that elephants need more room to roam than it can provide and is exploring "transitioning away" from keeping elephants (again, once its current elephants die off).

"We'd like to have more space—our yard is about an acre—but our footprint doesn't allow much for expansion," says John Houck, deputy director of the Point Defiance Zoo. There are also only about 150 Asian elephants nationally, and captive breeding programs just aren't working, he says. "We need to see about nine calves born a year, nationwide, and we're averaging about two. It's really a numbers game. When we lose these two current elephants, what will we do?"

Still, the Woodland Park Zoo has no plans to retire its elephants or expand its space. It continues to try to breed more babies on its one-acre plot.

On April 25, the City Attorney's Office and the zoo filed a joint motion to dismiss the lawsuit. The motion will be considered by King County Superior Court judge Mike Heavey on May 27. "Plaintiff's belief that zoos should not house or breed elephants is a political, policy debate not justifiable in this Court," the motion states. Zoo officials boast that over one million people visit the Woodland Park Zoo annually. "If people are to care about elephants, they need to learn about elephants. Accredited zoos provide a powerful venue that inspires conservation learning, interest, and action."

"If you want to learn about elephant behavior, go read a book," says Dr. Bradshaw. "Learning isn't an excuse for cruelty. If you want a healthy elephant, you don't put them in a zoo." recommended

This article has been updated since its original publication.


Comments (165) RSS

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hans millionaire 1
the zoo exploits all the animals for pockets full of cash
Posted by hans millionaire on May 11, 2011 at 11:04 AM · Report this
I've looked into keeping cattle, and found that I'd need about an acre per cow. To think that they keep three ELEPHANTS on less space than I could humanely keep three COWS on just hurts my heart. I see where the zoo is coming from, I really do. They want to stay open, and they feel this is the only way to do that. But this is not the way, guys...

I'm certain most zoo employees got into this business because they truly love animals. I hope they don't let business concerns make them lose sight of what's truly important. They could set up a high-tech, interactive elephant exhibit in that space, maybe including a webcam to the elephants that they've sent to live somewhere they can be happy. If they made that their goal, I bet they could raise some money to see it happen, perhaps even from the activists that they're fighting now.

Three elephants on one acre is simply unacceptable. Anyone who knows the slightest thing about animals knows that.
Posted by ACageIsNotAHabitat on May 11, 2011 at 11:34 AM · Report this
RatGirl 3
Cienna, thank you for writing this article. The treatment of elephants in captivity is absolutely shameful. I was so incredibly saddened reading about Chai's 57 forced impregnations and subsequent miscarriages and Sri having to carry her dead fetus around inside of her for years. I hope this article opens some eyes and hearts to the plight of what are some of the most amazing, sensitive and intelligent creatures on earth. Obviously, Woodland Park Zoo is not going to do anything about this problem until the public demands it. I'm hoping you've inspired a few more to speak out on the elephant's behalf.
Posted by RatGirl on May 11, 2011 at 12:01 PM · Report this
Science, death statistics and common sense tells us elephants don't belong in tiny urban zoos. The 2,700 acre Elephant Sanctuary is the best we can do for them
Posted by alyne16 on May 11, 2011 at 12:09 PM · Report this
Science, death statistics and common sense tells us elephants don't belong in tiny urban zoos. Allowing Bamboo, Chai and Watoto to live out their lives at the 2,700 acre Elephant Sanctuary is the best we can do - ASAP!
Posted by alyne16 on May 11, 2011 at 12:17 PM · Report this
tehjakers 6
As a former employee of the Woodland Park Zoo, I can tell you that the elephants are treated with the utmost respect. They are well maintained and cared for 24 hours a day.
Posted by tehjakers on May 11, 2011 at 12:44 PM · Report this
Thank you for this very enlightening article. Elephant experts and scientists and - increasingly, the public - know that elephants cannot have healthy and satisfying lives in small urban zoos. WPZ is NOT doing what is best for the elephants! Do they really think that 3 incompatible enormous social creatures are better off in a barren, less-than-one-acre yard or at the 2,700-acre paradise for elephants at The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee (elephants.com)? There they are free to roam, swim, dig, dust-bathe, knock down trees and play with elephant companions of their own choosing.
Posted by nancy pennington on May 11, 2011 at 12:49 PM · Report this
The former employee of WPZ must not know that the elephants are locked up alone in the barn - with no keepers present for 16-17 hours a day for 7 months of the year. And her claim that the elephants are "cared for 24 hours a day" causes me to ask: where was this care when Hansa spent the last 14 hours of her life ALONE (except for her poor mother, Chai, watching helplessly) dying a horrible excruciating death.
Posted by Elephant advocate on May 11, 2011 at 1:07 PM · Report this
Thank you for this article & getting the word out.
If people want to see elephants go see Born to be Wild http://www.imax.com/borntobewild/ or look up conservation groups such as Elephant Voices http://www.elephantvoices.org/ to learn about elephants & see them in their habitats. This is way more accurate than any behavior exhibited at a zoo & will garner appreciation of the actual animal!
Elephants ARE born to be wild - not kept enclosed, isolated from larger family groups & certainly not artificially inseminated.
Thanks Stranger!
Posted by lisac on May 11, 2011 at 1:28 PM · Report this
The zoo should put the elephants' welfare above all other considerations. The current conditions in which the elephants are kept are inhumane, and the elephants are showing their distress. The compassionate thing to do is to release them toan elephant sanctuarywhere they can live out their years in peace in .
Posted by carol26 on May 11, 2011 at 1:28 PM · Report this
What an amazing and fascinating article. It reminds me of a movie that just came out titled "The Elephant in the Living Room" addressing a similar issue of individuals wanting to possess animals that belong in the wild. (http://www.theelephantinthelivingroom.co…) I highly recommend you check it out if you get the chance. It's quite the eye opener.

Posted by maggieJ on May 11, 2011 at 1:28 PM · Report this
12 Comment Pulled (Duplicate) Comment Policy
What an amazing and fascinating article. It reminds me of a movie that just came out titled "The Elephant in the Living Room" addressing a similar issue of individuals wanting to possess animals that belong in the wild. (http://www.theelephantinthelivingroom.co…) I highly recommend you check it out if you get the chance. It's quite the eye opener.
Posted by maggieJ on May 11, 2011 at 1:32 PM · Report this
required reading on this topic:

Posted by caphill on May 11, 2011 at 1:35 PM · Report this
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Oh my goodness! Is there finally a possibility that Chai, Watoto and Bamboo (and Sri at the other elephants at the St. Louis Zoo) will be released to the 2700 Elephant Sanctuary in Hohenwald, Tennessee, to live out the rest of their lives in dignity with room to roam freely and socialize with other elephants instead of in captivity suffering physically, psychologically and emotionally for the pleasure of gawkers and greedy humans. Prayers going up on their behalf
Posted by DaNewf on May 11, 2011 at 1:46 PM · Report this
Cienna, thank you for your important article. WPZ must do the right thing now and let these three poor elephants go to their freedom. I am surprised that the board is not taking a compassionate approach and vote to let them go. Why delaying? Bamboo,Chai and Watoto are poor innocent prisoners...
Posted by Claudine Erlandson on May 11, 2011 at 1:47 PM · Report this
Thanks for printing this article.
My so-called liberal, green, eco-conscious, humanity-fostering city, Seattle, is far behind Detroit when it comes to walking its talk. It doesn't take genius to realize large animals require large spaces. Money and egos again cause suffering to other helpless beings. Shame on Woodland Park Zoo - they have a chance to do the right thing, and they refuse to do it.
Posted by aryldarkly on May 11, 2011 at 1:51 PM · Report this
Disgusting and shameful. Thank you for covering this. Can we say, "PUPPY MILL"?
Posted by Compassion Over Captivity on May 11, 2011 at 1:56 PM · Report this
20 Comment Pulled (Duplicate) Comment Policy
Thank you. These captive elephants are overdue being sent to an sanctuary. It is amazing that the zoo continues to hang on to the idea that they are being well cared for. How can they be so blind to the true needs of these majestic animals.?
Posted by sheilamarkman on May 11, 2011 at 2:03 PM · Report this
The misery of the elephants at the zoo is palpable - and an embarrassment to the city. At one time, WPZ was a world-class facility and a leader in the zoo community. Unfortunately, it has failed to keep pace with the increased understanding and knowledge of animal behavior and welfare - not the mention the changing attitudes of the public - and is now on a par with a shabby roadside zoo.
Posted by lisaw on May 11, 2011 at 2:07 PM · Report this
Thanks Cienna - once Seattle's taxpayers separate the nostalgia they feel for zoos they will appreciate that the veil of "conservation" falls flat with regard to what has been happening for years at the WPZ.

All the zoo is nurturing is their own pockets until they have to shuffle another elephant to another zoo or explain another elephant death to the public.

Send the elephants to the sanctuary - let us watch them via TV monitors or online.

Wouldn't it be something to see them run?

Posted by cathy sorbo on May 11, 2011 at 2:12 PM · Report this
@6, it's not enough that the WPZ "respects" its elephants. When they're dying of herpes, or suffering from osteoarthritis and absesses, or living in isolation, it's simply a lie that they're being well cared for. It's also irrelevant, since it is not in their (the elephants'!) interests to keep them at the zoo. There is no reason at all to have these elephants at the zoo, expect to make the zoo some moolah.
I don't care if every zookeeper in the park gave every elephant a big smooch on the nose and a belly rub. Caring well for elephants in captivity is oxymoronic.
Posted by HaiLee Sujestibel on May 11, 2011 at 2:15 PM · Report this
victoriastar 25
Sometimes when I am sad or just want to think in the company of quiet, intelligent creatures, I sit at the Woodland Park Zoo's elephant exhibit. It's my mental comfort place. I do honestly believe that the WPZ may be doing everything it can to treat the animals in the best, most humane possible way, while still doing the elephants an injustice. You can dine like a king in prison, but still yearn only to be starving and free.

The sanctuary sounds like an ideal solution, and though I would miss my three elephant friends, I would feel immeasurably better knowing their quality of life has greatly improved. I'd imagine the Seattle community here would be happy to band together and sponsor their transition and tenure. That in itself is even more comforting to my mind than sitting near them with rough fence between us.
Posted by victoriastar http://amyl.onsugar.com/ on May 11, 2011 at 2:41 PM · Report this
Re: Yearning to be free, watch this seal!
Posted by Kelly O on May 11, 2011 at 2:48 PM · Report this
Thank you Cienna!! These girls have suffered enough. Get them to The Elephant Sanctuary!
Posted by deco on May 11, 2011 at 2:51 PM · Report this
Simply stated, these animals do not belong in captivity, no matter what measures are taken for their physical well being. Think about this for a minute. What if you were claustrophobic, temperamental, or even perhaps suffered from anxiety attacks, do you think being shoveled into a small space would help the situation? No matter how clean, how well fed, or vetted the animal is,we as humans do not have a full understanding of their need to be free to roam. That is why we found them in open spaces, their need for their natural surrounding is obvious. Woodland Park Zoo is an amazing zoo, however the need to provide elephants on display is not necessary, so why continue to victimize these
beautiful creatures.
Posted by carmen2099@comcast.net on May 11, 2011 at 2:52 PM · Report this
I recently visited the zoo and saw Chai rocking and swaying horribly. It was nonstop. The keeper told another zoo visitor that she was just anticipating her next meal. He fed her and as soon as Chai finished eating, she went right back to rocking back and forth. Obviously this behavior was not "anticipatory" behavior, but the severe sign of distress that Dr. Gay Bradshaw and other experts have described. What bothers me is that the zoo claims to be all about elephant education while they deliberately misinform the public about their poor elephants. How completely hypocritical.
Posted by Patty Pan on May 11, 2011 at 2:54 PM · Report this
30 Comment Pulled (Duplicate) Comment Policy
I recently visited the zoo and saw Chai rocking and swaying horribly. It was nonstop. The keeper told another zoo visitor that she was just anticipating her next meal. He fed her and as soon as Chai finished eating, she went right back to rocking back and forth. Obviously this behavior was not "anticipatory" behavior, but the severe sign of distress that Dr. Gay Bradshaw and other experts have described. What bothers me is that the zoo claims to be all about elephant education while they deliberately misinform the public about their poor elephants. How completely hypocritical. Let these poor, long-suffering elephants go where they can finally be elephants.
Posted by Patty Pan on May 11, 2011 at 3:00 PM · Report this
My father and I belong to different generations and therefore have differeing veiws on the issue of elephants in zoos. Some animals seem thrilled to have the safety and good care of a zoo. Other, more intelligent, usally larger, social animals with specialized needs such as elephants and gorillas just can't be properly provided for in zoos, no matter how much we respect and adore them and do everything we can. Unfortunately, these very animals are indeed the cash cows of the zoos, but the zoos need to find better ways to support their mission. Your article will be a helpful aide to the ongoing respectful and good-willed debate my father (now in his 70's) and I have been having over this very issue. Thank you.
Posted by K Olsen on May 11, 2011 at 3:29 PM · Report this
schmacky 33
So wait...everyone agrees these elephants are being treated in a far-from-ideal way...the 1-acre thing at the very least has to be acknowledged by even the most craven zoo advocate to be grossly inadequate.

And yet the argument for keeping them here in these conditions is to, as Cienna paraphrases, "help educate the public and spur conservation efforts."

So basically, they're saying "we're mistreating these animals, so you can see how badly these animals are being mistreated"? Is that the logic here?

Bullshit. Humanity fail.

Posted by schmacky on May 11, 2011 at 3:35 PM · Report this
meanie 34
so everyone who wants them to be happy at the reservation is cool with using Seattle tax dollars to pay for it?

And we all also know that elephants get shot and killed in the wild all the time right?

An acre is tiny, but a lawsuit demanding they be retired at expense, while citing the expense of abusing them as a reason is a little hypocritical.
Posted by meanie http://www.spicealley.net on May 11, 2011 at 3:52 PM · Report this
Is it just me or does this thread read like some person (or group of people) is comment bombing this article? I mean, not that I neccesarily disagree with the position, but why?
Posted by history mystery on May 11, 2011 at 3:56 PM · Report this
SiSiSodaPop in Vegas 36
Posted by SiSiSodaPop in Vegas on May 11, 2011 at 3:57 PM · Report this
GlamB0t 37
I love how people are saying: "I totally don't agree with it, we just went and they look so sad."

First, that's completely hypocritical to not agree with yet fork over your cash to a zoo.

Second, I love how human beings think they know everything about everything. "The elephants looked sad" "An expert said" it's all bullshit.

Experts are, at best, making educated guesses regarding wild animal behavior. Sure they're educated, but they're hypothesis after studying the animal. Typically, these hypothesis will also have some human element to them which just astounds me with stupidity.
Posted by GlamB0t on May 11, 2011 at 3:59 PM · Report this
Kris 38
But what do they think of the Fleet Foxes?!
Posted by Kris on May 11, 2011 at 4:24 PM · Report this
Joe M 39
@35 I'm sensing the same thing about the comment bombing.

I take issue, a little bit, with the assertion that zoos are incapable of promoting conservation and public education. I like zoos.

That being said, last time I was at WPZ I got the distinct sense that those particular elephants were in a bad place. They are big, complex creatures and I don't think the average zoo (which WPZ is), is an appropriate place to house them. Seriously, the Ringling Bros. elephants seem better off.
Posted by Joe M on May 11, 2011 at 4:32 PM · Report this
J.Reyes 40
Thank you so much for this article! The plight of Bamboo, Watoto and Chai (and the death of poor little Hansa) needs to be brought to the attention of the public. The part of this article I DIDN'T know about was the story of Sri. The idea of a rotting fetus left inside her because it was not in the zoos financial interest to remove it just sickens me. How can they possibly claim to have the best interests of the elephants in mind and then do something like this?? Disgusting! If they REALLY cared about the lives of these animals, they would move the elephants to the Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee... NOW!!!
Posted by J.Reyes on May 11, 2011 at 4:33 PM · Report this
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gwhayduke 42
This is a great article. Thanks for researching and writing.

I learned a lot - for instance, I knew elephants walked, but twenty miles per day? This fact alone makes the educational argument that the zoo advances silly, silly, silly.

We should focus on conserving and restoring natural places - not wasting money on unsafe urban enclosures.
Posted by gwhayduke http://www.farmsanctuary.org/videos/celebrity-ambassadors/ellen-degeneres-shares-why-she-supports-farm-sanctuary/ on May 11, 2011 at 4:36 PM · Report this
Extremely well presented piece, Cienna. As a former director of Woodland Park Zoo I would like to thank you for highlighting these awful problems. The elephants at the zoo have always had a wretched time, and things have only gone rapidly downhill in recent decades.
There is no evidence that zoos have any beneficial impact on visitor attitudes, compassion or knowledge. And zoo elephant breeding programs make no contribution to conservation: they are nothing but attempts to keep elephants in zoos.
Posted by David Hancocks on May 11, 2011 at 4:40 PM · Report this
Such intelligent animals & as sentient beings they should be treated with respect. It is OUR responsibility to be sure they are treated well.
Posted by Brooknook on May 11, 2011 at 4:50 PM · Report this
First, regarding the idea that a group is "bombarding" this article is ridiculous. Could the reason that almost everyone who has responded so far has been against keeping the elephants here be that we all see the same thing and it sickens us that they are kept in a tiny enclosure and they are not in a habitat anywhere NEAR what their natural surroundings should be?? I have 2 draft horses in a pasture that is FIVE times larger than what the WPZ elephants have, I am aware how much area a large animal needs to thrive, not just survive. I appreciate that the WPZ says they are treated with respect, although I disagree, they need more than that to thrive. DO the right thing and send them to the sanctuary. This kind of incarceration is barbaric.
Posted by LJH on May 11, 2011 at 5:03 PM · Report this
I attended the last Zoo board meeting, they were visibly disinterested in constructive comments made by myself and 4 others for up to three minutes.
They only clapped when a commenter praised the zoo.
Yet I am still a Seattle taxpayer that contributes to their 6.5 million received by the city. So are you.

Retiring Bamboo, Chai, and Watoto to TN's Elephant Sanctuary (at no cost to the Seattle taxpayer) *is* the right thing.

To do the right thing, watch: http://bit.ly/WPZElephantsSpacelessinSea…

Then go to Woodland Park zoo Contact Us website and respectfully request the retirement of our elephants. Now.

Thank you,
Veronica Cannady
Posted by vcannady on May 11, 2011 at 5:04 PM · Report this
the zoo is great enough besides the elephant exhibit that if they get rid of them it wont hurt there attendance. there is no opinion here, it is a scientific fact that these elephants are in hell
Posted by canucks12 on May 11, 2011 at 5:08 PM · Report this
If you think the elephant enclosure is bad, go check out the tigers- their pen was basically a cement box with stairs, sans one wall for viewers. It was the most depressing thing I saw all day.
Posted by UNPAID COMMENTER on May 11, 2011 at 5:12 PM · Report this
hans millionaire 49
time for some action
Posted by hans millionaire on May 11, 2011 at 5:16 PM · Report this
Max Solomon 50
it may not be "comment bombing", but posting the same comment multiple times is "commenter error".

simply, zoos are animal jails - not only the elephants are miserable, but the wolves look like they're about to have a nervous breakdown. the only thing that makes them look decent by comparison are research vivariums. which are ALL AROUND YOU.
Posted by Max Solomon on May 11, 2011 at 5:25 PM · Report this
@35 Maybe it's because the hypocrisy of the zoo is so palpable that no-one can ignore it?
Posted by 16334578 on May 11, 2011 at 5:30 PM · Report this
I was director of Woodland park Zoo from 1976 to 1984, when we were trying to set new standards for zoos. I sincerely believed that we could make a difference; improving people's attitudes through education and compassionate exhibits, and contributing to conservation by captive breeding and research.
Sadly, no evidence has emerged to support my hopes. Indeed, in situations such as the elephants at WPZ, who have always had to endure miserable conditions, and whose quality of life has even declined significantly in recent decades, the Zoo is merely generating negative outcomes. The only right and good thing to do is to send the elephants to a Sanctuary.
Posted by David Hancocks on May 11, 2011 at 5:36 PM · Report this
please consider moving the elephants to the Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee. The climate will be perfect for the elephants.
Posted by Suzanne Daniel on May 11, 2011 at 5:38 PM · Report this
Max Solomon 54
also, the 2700 acres in tennessee is too small. we should introduce them back into the N American wild so they evolve into mastodons, because that would be sweet.
Posted by Max Solomon on May 11, 2011 at 5:39 PM · Report this
Thank you for writing this article!

The City Council and the Mayor's office should immediately demand that the zoo re-locate these elephants to a sanctuary. We don't have enough room. No other zoo has enough room.

I'd be happy to elect out of office anyone who doesn't take decisive and responsbile action on re-locating these elephants now!

I'd still support the zoo, and even more so, without the elephants there...at least I would know that MY ZOO MEMBERSHIP isn't funding animal abuse!!!
Posted by CR on May 11, 2011 at 6:06 PM · Report this
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Thank you so much for your article! I've been following the plight of these elephants for some time now.

My conclusion is, after the protests and all the evidence given, the only reason I can think of that WPZ would NOT send these poor elephants to the sanctuary is that they are just pissed off and don't want to be told what to do. Pure and simple spite.
Posted by fortheanimals on May 11, 2011 at 6:12 PM · Report this
Womyn2me 58
I like the Zoo. I like elephants. the larger the animal, the more difficult it is to keep it sane in a zoo. Its a quandry. I do think that the elephants at the WPZ seem less mentally challenged or stimulated than at other zoos.
Posted by Womyn2me http://http:\\www.shelleyandlaura.com on May 11, 2011 at 6:16 PM · Report this

Nearly all of the above commenters have never commented on a Slog piece and joined the site in the past day.

This is par for the course for this elephant-rights group. It kinda sucks, too -- I'm sure they have a worthwhile cause, but their idea of marketing/"getting the word out" is ridiculous. Check out a few of the more popular blogs for examples.

Thanks for turning this comments thread into lame propaganda, folks. Really, the elephants deserve better advocates than you.

Certainly, the zookeepers deserve better, too, but that's a different story.

Posted by Echoes Myron on May 11, 2011 at 6:17 PM · Report this
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Dear Elephants,

I am sorry for what we have done to you. Last time I visited you I cried for your suffering. I hope the Zoo Keepers will do the right thing and send you to TN where you can have a better life.
Posted by MightyMeau on May 11, 2011 at 6:21 PM · Report this
@45: So how is it ridiculous when nearly all commenters here have never commented on another Stranger/Slog piece before? Seems more than a little fishy to my eyes.
Posted by Echoes Myron on May 11, 2011 at 6:24 PM · Report this
BTW: Yikes -- sorry for my own comment appearing twice! Where are you, "edit function?"
Posted by Echoes Myron on May 11, 2011 at 6:25 PM · Report this
@meanie - yes but at least in the wild they have the chance to enjoy life, whether or not they get shot. Having seen elephants in the wild in both Africa & Asia, I can say that there are few things so wonderful to witness and they are entirely different creatures than those you see in any zoo. Also, despite the amount of tourism in these areas, they are the places where true conservation, true co-habitation with wildlife is happening, not in zoos. Further, lawsuits serve a few purposes and one of these is to set judicial precedent. If the plaintiff's win, then an amazing victory for captive animals is on the books.
Posted by thepxi on May 11, 2011 at 6:34 PM · Report this
Elephants, or any animal for that matter, do not belong behind bars for human enjoyment. They are animals and should be allowed to be themselves in their natural habitat.
Posted by MRK on May 11, 2011 at 6:44 PM · Report this
Thank you for writing this insightful article!
Posted by Peggy53 on May 11, 2011 at 7:11 PM · Report this
Rinelle Boomtown 67
Put them in a bigger space. Man, this makes me sad.
Posted by Rinelle Boomtown on May 11, 2011 at 7:25 PM · Report this
#34, you said, "so everyone who wants them to be happy at the reservation is cool with using Seattle tax dollars to pay for it?" Seattle tax payers wouldn't pay for it. The Sanctuary will pay all costs for transport of the elephants. Everyone should check out www.elephants.com to see what a wonderful place it is, and to see what healthy, happy elephants are like.
Posted by bunnysmom on May 11, 2011 at 7:46 PM · Report this
#34, you said, "so everyone who wants them to be happy at the reservation is cool with using Seattle tax dollars to pay for it?" Seattle taxpayers would not pay for it. The Elephant Sanctuary has offered to pay all the expenses to transport the elephants. Everyone should go to www.elephants.com to see what happy, healthy elephants are really like.
Posted by bunnysmom on May 11, 2011 at 7:50 PM · Report this
How does it happen that comments get posted twice? Sorry about that.
Posted by bunnysmom on May 11, 2011 at 7:51 PM · Report this
Great article that nails the horrific conditions the Woodland Park elephants face every day. The Zoo always maintains that they are well cared for and that the keepers love them. No amount of caring and love can fulfill their emotional and physical needs. If only the Zoo cared about what's best for the elephants instead of their financial bottom line. If they were transfered to a sanctuary, Watato and Bamboo would never have to see each other again, and poor Chai would never be put through another invasive artificial insemination ever again. They could walk for miles and miles and be friends with whomever they choose. Their painful foot problems would disappear. Seattle is such a progressive city but we are WAY behind the times when it comes to our elephants. May justice prevail in the courts!
Posted by mylesmom on May 11, 2011 at 8:14 PM · Report this
The Elephant Sanctuary has offered to pay all the expenses: transport and care for life at no cost to the city or the zoo. It's a win all the way around. The Zoo's PR dept. could teach our children such an incredible lesson in compassion and selflessness.
Posted by alyne16 on May 11, 2011 at 8:17 PM · Report this
Here's a link to an article about the Pony Rides at WPZ. Perhaps this is an ongoing trend.

Posted by Animal Lover on May 11, 2011 at 9:14 PM · Report this
Joe Szilagyi 74
Set them free in Tennessee. It will also free up a lot of land in the zoo for other exhibits for animals in need of attention that are better suited for life in a zoo environment.
Posted by Joe Szilagyi http://twitter.com/joeszi on May 11, 2011 at 9:38 PM · Report this
Wow! Up until today I have really enjoyed reading the Stranger. While sometimes you guys go over the top and come up with outrageous stories I've never considered the possibility you were completely full of shit..until now.

I've been a volunteer photographer at the Woodland Park Zoo for about 6 years now. I have actually been in the room while Chai was artificially inseminated and was privileged to witness first hand the passionate and caring Zoo Keepers treating her with dignity, respect and compassion. I witnessed it then and have witnessed the same care during many other encounters with the devoted team of zookeepers. They had a tangible bond with each of the elephants that could never be described in a newspaper article. To imply the elephants or any other animal at the Zoo for that matter are treated with anything less than absolute love and first rate care is nothing short of an ignorant lie.

"Cash Cows?" Can you for even one second imagine how much money is required to maintain that zoo? I certainly can't but I'm willing to bet it's more than any one animal or species will bring in.

I have been to East Africa and seen first hand enormous herds of Wild Elephants (www.MHWildlife.com) walking the vast savanna. Without question, it is a magnificent, breathtaking site that everyone on Planet Earth should take in. It truly changed my life. Unfortunately, not everyone can make that trip. Luckily there are incredible Zoos in America like Woodland Park where families can go and see them close up and personal. "If you want to learn about elephant behavior, go read a book." That is really the slant the Stranger wants to take? How can reading a book replace the sounds and sites (and yep, even smells) of witnessing these awe inspiring animals first hand?

I hope that you guys retract your comments about the zoos comments. You did not ask her about revenue generated by elephants so she did not decline to comment. You did not ask any general questions about the zoo or the zoo's elephants. You lied. You did ask about the lawsuit and I've been led to believe the answer seemed to satisfy her. It appears to me you had no intent to actually do any reporting. Just wanted to push your personal agenda. Boo.

P.S. The guy on the cover with the Hump girl...the unicorn tattoo is stupid :) He should have it removed.

Again, I love the Stranger...hated this article. I get that sensationalistic journalism creates a buzz. I wish that all journalism was straight forward and filled with facts. Unfortunately, as a culture we like to have fluff spoon fed to us. To outright lie and not present at least some sort of facts from the side you are bashing is in my opinion irresponsible. I want my money back.
Posted by Mat Hayward http://www.MatHaywardPhoto.com on May 11, 2011 at 9:54 PM · Report this
I disagree with most of the article. The elephants in WPZ help connect people to elephants in a way that cannot be experienced through only books, TV, or the Internet. The impact of seeing one in person is powerful. To care about them, to want to save them, one needs to learn about them. Zoos provide a venue for that. The elephants (as well as all the rest of the zoo's animals) get exceptional care. They are daily examined, bathed, get plenty of enrichment, exercise, and stimulation. Even though wild elephants can walk up to 20 miles a day, that's because they are looking for food and/or water. When it's readily available to them, they don't wander far. So the fact that the zoo's elephants don't walk a great distance is far from being abused -- they don't need to because their food, water, and shelter are close by. To take the elephants out of the zoo would be very short-sighted.
Posted by Judy Nyman-Schaaf on May 11, 2011 at 10:08 PM · Report this
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No wild animal should be in "prison" at any time.
Posted by Julie van Niekerk on May 11, 2011 at 10:22 PM · Report this
I'm with all of you who think this site's being bombed.

Have you done any internet research on this place in Tennesee -- they've had a bunch of elephants die, and a handler die, and the leader is gone(suspicious circumstances)... doesn't look like nirvana... so what's this really all about.

Not your best investigative reporting.. we expect better from the Stranger.
Posted by wildatheart on May 11, 2011 at 10:22 PM · Report this
80 Comment Pulled (Spam) Comment Policy
I disagree with most of this article. The elephants in WPZ help connect people to elephants in a way that cannot be experienced through only books, TV, or the Internet. The impact of seeing one in person is powerful. To care about them, to want to save them, one needs to learn about them. Zoos provide a venue for that. The elephants (as well as all the rest of the zoo's animals) get exceptional care. They are daily examined, bathed, get plenty of enrichment, exercise, and stimulation. Even though wild elephants can walk up to 20 miles a day, that's because they are looking for food and/or water. When it's readily availabel to them, they don't wander far. So the fact that the zoo's elephants don't walk a great distance is far from being abused -- they don't need to because their food, water, and shelter are close by. To take the elephants out of the zoo would be short-sighted.
Posted by Judy Nyman-Schaaf on May 11, 2011 at 10:31 PM · Report this
I have volunteered at Woodland park zoo for about 8 years. The zookeepers I have seen are incredibly dedicated and caring to all the animals at the zoo. I have my own moral problems with the idea of a zoo but I decided to do something about it, so I volunteered. I too don't think that these animals should be kept in captivity and displayed as entertainment. But zoos do exist. Whether you agree with the idea of a zoo or not, these animals are not unhappy or mistreated. Moving a large intelligent mammal across the country to what "you" think is a better situation might be very stressful to the animal. Imagine the only world you have ever known removed, a long truck ride in a cage and having to deal with new surroundings and a new social order. My point is that it not as easy as this article makes it out to be. I have seen the moving of several primates and the care and planning that goes into that is incredible.
What we are seeing in zoos across the country is a response to privatization- i.e. no more tax dollars. Revenue has to be generated through ticket sales which =entertainment. For those of you who object to the changes you see at Woodland Park Zoo please think about that the next time you vote. We caused these changes by voting and making the city cut the zoo from funding. And please,please remember that all of these creatures are being pushed to the brink of extinction in the wild from the constant pressure of Humans. That is the real crime.
Posted by spangy on May 11, 2011 at 10:31 PM · Report this
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This is about space. The elephants need 200+ acres according to experts like the World Wildlife Fund and basically any mainstream elephant conservation organziation.

Even with the best care and intention, zookeepers can't do right by elephants when all they have to give is an acre.

Posted by CR on May 11, 2011 at 10:37 PM · Report this
@55, 56

The definition of comment bombing. Again, not that I neccesarily disagree with the message, but this sort of "astro-turfing" tactic discredits whatever position any person who uses it is trying to advocate for...
Posted by history mystery on May 11, 2011 at 11:17 PM · Report this
The suit cites "exposure to beatings". Where is the evidence of that?
Posted by commonsense on May 11, 2011 at 11:48 PM · Report this
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I spend a good many volunteer hours behind the scenes and I speak from first-hand experience when I say the keepers at WPZ are indefatigable in their care for these animals. They go far beyond monitoring behavior and intake of nutrition--their care comes from a deep love and devotion to what they do. I doubt that many parents know the true personality and idiosyncrasies of their own children better than these keepers know these animals. Do accidents happen at zoos--of course! Zoos are a microcosm of society just like any organization but the people who run them have a special calling and they respond to accidents appropriately with compassion and skill. Please put your efforts where they can do more good--protecting animals in the wild and educating the public about the idiocy of buying ivory or poaching wild animals or cutting down forests. Just stop and consider your motives and try to examine all the issues involved before uttering inane remarks and parroting the comments of activists.
Far from deserving condemnation the keepers at WPZ deserve our highest praise.
Posted by Winnie on May 12, 2011 at 7:03 AM · Report this
Thanks for finally doing a story on the sad existence of Bamboo, Chai and Watoto. Woodland Park cannot adequately provide for these elephants and they should be released to a sanctuary!
Posted by Ayame4 on May 12, 2011 at 7:13 AM · Report this
Canadian Nurse 91
My local zoo (Toronto) is meeting today to discuss options. We have a decent amount of space, but there's controversy over whether they should have to face these temperatures.

The decision has already been made, however, not to send them to a sanctuary, since sanctuaries are unregulated and so we can't guarantee that they'll be appropriately cared for once there.

The California Sanctuary (Performing Animal Welfare Society) has a better reputation than Tennessee, if one was going to go this route.
Posted by Canadian Nurse on May 12, 2011 at 7:54 AM · Report this
Canadian Nurse 92
I'm fascinated that Mat Hayward is 100% sure of every communication that has gone on between the Stranger and the zoo. How so sure? Listening devices? Psychic readings?
Posted by Canadian Nurse on May 12, 2011 at 7:58 AM · Report this
Woodland Park Zoo is seriously needing some new people in charge. Are they that dense that they cant see they are abusing these elephants? Anyone who supports this Zoo is letting them know its okay to confine and torture these sentient beings that belong in a santuary. If you bring your kids here you are telling your children its okay to abuse animals. Think before you buy tickets to this Zoo.
Posted by Carol Guilbault on May 12, 2011 at 8:04 AM · Report this
"I'm fascinated that Mat Hayward is 100% sure of every communication that has gone on between the Stranger and the zoo. How so sure? Listening devices? Psychic readings?"

They told me. In all the years I've known them and the woman that was "interviewed" I have never known them to lie or even stretch the truth. They are always above board on everything because they are so minutely scrutinized on everything they do.

That and the Psychic readings you referred to certainly did help. Trust me Canadian Nurse...don't believe everything you read in the papers.
Posted by Mat Hayward http://www.MatHaywardPhoto.com on May 12, 2011 at 8:10 AM · Report this
Hello People the old Director of the Zoo thinks these elephants should go to the sanctuary.
As for the woman who is worried about tax payers paying for their release...hell YES its okay..we have made these elephants suffer for our seattle entertainment and education.
I mean come on lady...tax payers should pay! If tax payers spoke up and stop supporting the Zoo maybe they would not keep the exhibit.
Posted by Carol Guilbault on May 12, 2011 at 8:14 AM · Report this
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Canadian Nurse 97
OK, Mat. So what questions did Cienna ask the spokeswoman?
Posted by Canadian Nurse on May 12, 2011 at 9:13 AM · Report this
Canadian Nurse. Re your comment (#91) about tThe Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee,I don't know where you're getting your information but it is blatantly false. I have been an observer of that sanctuary and their elephants for years and, believe me, those elephants get the best of care and have loving caregivers. I hope and pray the elephants in the Toronto Zoo are sent there. I know the decision is being made today but so far I haven't heard what it is.
Posted by DaNewf on May 12, 2011 at 10:22 AM · Report this
Those who claim that the WPZ employees love and care for these animals are almost absolutely correct.

However, I also believe that the people we see in the news or on the Animal Hoarders TV show also love and care for the mess of animals they keep in their homes.

The WPZ as well as the LA Zoo are dead wrong about keeping elephants in these little enclosures.
Posted by Water for Elephants on May 12, 2011 at 10:44 AM · Report this
Here is some perspective on whether or not their 1 acre lot is sufficient. Assuming my math is correct, and assuming the average overfed human takes up about 6 square feet of space, we are saying that if three elephants are perfectly fine sharing 43,560 sq ft, that three adult humans would be fine sharing 3485 sq feet of space...or less than 1/6th of an acre...for life. Please let me know if you think this is 'fair' or appropriate for any living being.
Posted by Jeniferg on May 12, 2011 at 11:06 AM · Report this
101 Comment Pulled (Duplicate) Comment Policy
"OK, Mat. So what questions did Cienna ask the spokeswoman?"

I don't know what questions she DID ask. I'm told it was a brief interview and I was told what she DIDN'T ask which was what I posted above and what Cienna lied about. There is sensationalist reporting and there is blatant lying. Sadly, it appears this is the latter.

I know that the Zoo has reached out to ask her about this. I'm not sure if they have heard back at this point or not. I hope it gets worked out because it'll make me sad to hate the Stranger.

Up until now it was always a great way to...well, it was always a good excuse to look at soft porn in the last couple pages. Now I have to question when the ad says "real photo" if it is in fact a real photo or simply a drawing disguised as a photo.
Posted by Mat Hayward http://www.MatHaywardPhoto.com on May 12, 2011 at 11:34 AM · Report this
Oh wow - I don't know what to comment on first - the many inaccurate facts and/or myths in the article or the writer's obvious bias and unwillingness to consider both sides. FYI - Watoto has had joint issues/stiff legs since she arrived at the zoo AT ONE YEAR OF AGE. Elephants in the wild only walk as far as they need to in order to find enough food. The "need" to walk 20-30 miles a day is a myth - Asian elephants certainly don't as they live in a tropical rain forest with food all around. The writer's sarcastic comments about the zoo's education about elephants consisting of unread plaques ignores the daily keeper talks to the public during bath time as well as the docents (volunteers) who staff carts with elephant artifacts (an elephant tooth, a tusk, etc.) that allow the public to stop, ask questions and listen to both natural history and conservation messages. I could go on - but I suspect the writer is less interested in true facts than in inflaming their readership.
Posted by jlwmartha on May 12, 2011 at 11:42 AM · Report this
Suggest those interested in the fate of these elephants read the following. The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee is a beautiful haven for these elephants and, contrary to what someone said, it is accredited.

Posted by DaNewf on May 12, 2011 at 12:09 PM · Report this
Cienna Madrid 105
@102, I did receive a call last night from a zoo spokeswoman, Gigi--one of two women from the zoo I questioned for this article. The first woman I spoke with (or who I thought was a spokeswoman) declined to comment on a few questions, including how and if they measure zoo attendance, and how much the elephant exhibit drives zoo attendance. That person then transferred me to Gigi, who sent me the press release.

Gigi was upset because she says I didn't ask her those questions--and I didn't. That doesn't mean the questions weren't asked. When I call someone, identify myself and why I'm calling, and they agree to speak with me, I can only assume they're in a qualified position to do so.

That said, when I talked to her today, I asked Gigi the same main question--namely, does the elephant exhibit drive attendance? Here's what she said: "No zoos can break down how much each species generates." But she added that, "When Hansa was born, sure, she increased attendance. That was a record year."

Meanwhile, the zoo has currently just debuted a new baby ocelot and baby penguin chicks. Gigi says that these additions have not zoo impacted attendance, although "we're getting a lot of buzz about them online."
Posted by Cienna Madrid on May 12, 2011 at 12:10 PM · Report this
Cienna Madrid 106
@102, one more thing--you weren't present during either/any of my phone interviews, so I'd really watch who you're calling a liar. It's pretty fucking offensive.
Posted by Cienna Madrid on May 12, 2011 at 12:13 PM · Report this
Until the elephants are moved out of WPZ into the sanctuary, I will not go there. It is cruel to keep them there, with all the evidence presented. Shame on you WPZ!
Posted by bellehale on May 12, 2011 at 12:36 PM · Report this
Until WPZ sends the elephants to the sanctuary, I will not be visiting. They have been presented with evidence citing keeping the elephants is cruel, yet they continue to do so. None of my money will go towards an establishment that cares so little of its animal inhabitants.
Posted by bellehale on May 12, 2011 at 12:39 PM · Report this
RatGirl 109
Hey Echoes @59,

I reject your assumption that this article has been comment bombed. My comment was one of the first, I've had a SLOG log-in for several years now and I am not part of any "organization".

LJH @45's got it right. And it makes me hopeful that I'm not the only one that gives a shit.
Posted by RatGirl on May 12, 2011 at 12:54 PM · Report this
"you weren't present during either/any of my phone interviews, so I'd really watch who you're calling a liar. It's pretty fucking offensive."

That's pretty fucking hilarious. As a "journalist" it would seem you should have thicker skin. Especially one who writes such inflammatory, biased articles clearly designed to insight rebellion and anger rather than to educate or inform.

You said in your rebuttal that Gigi sent you the press release. You also said that she wasn't the person you spoke with and asked your questions to. However, in your article you say that "When I inquired if I could ask more general questions about the zoo, another declined and sent me a press release"

The way I am interpreting your words is that you were transferred to Gigi and asked her if you could ask general questions about the zoo. Gigi then told you that you could not ask her general questions about the zoo. Instead she insisted you could only get a generic press release from her. Does that sound about right?

I've met Gigi a number of times. She is a professional and I can't help but think that if a member of the press (or you) wanted to ask general questions about the zoo that she would be willing to answer them to the best of her ability. Please, correct me if I'm wrong. Did you record these calls? If so, and Gigi refused to answer your questions I want to hear it. I will stand in Downtown Seattle wearing my underwear holding up a sign that says "Cienna Madrid is a top notch journalist! She was right, I was wrong and I'm sorry!"

If not then I stand by my earlier accusation....you are a liar.

Posted by Mat Hayward http://www.MatHaywardPhoto.com on May 12, 2011 at 1:57 PM · Report this
Thank you for this article. Anyone with half a brain knows WPZ does not have enough room for the elephants. And yes, elephants even die in sanctuaries, especially since they are old, abused and sick when they arrive.
Glad to see you mention the Detroit zoo. Their attendance actually went UP after Ron sent the elephants to PAWS sanctuary.
Posted by Bridger82923 on May 12, 2011 at 2:44 PM · Report this
To Mat Hayward, the question is either the zoo's treatment including its severe confinement of the elephants for long periods which the zoo itself has acknowledged is animal cruelty. Would you like to be locked up in a small closet for your whole life? Of course not, yet that is the equivalent of what the zoo is doing to the elephants. How absurd for you to claim the zoo shows them respect. By ignoring their very nature (the need for vast spaces, freedom, naturally growing vegetation and compatible other elephants) the zoo is showing total disrespect for them and for their species. If you witnessed Chai's insemination, did the zoo keepers tell you that any calf born there will be exposed to the same deadly virus that killed Hansa since its AFrican elephant is still infected with it? Of course not, that's a "minor" detail that any calf is likely to die. How respectful....
Posted by Patty Pan on May 12, 2011 at 3:18 PM · Report this
This comments thread is officially a zoo. ZING!
Posted by Echoes Myron on May 12, 2011 at 4:34 PM · Report this
All the comments regarding how humane the handlers are make me laugh... it doesn't matter how nice the prison guards are when you're stuck in a small concrete box. The point isn't that the zoo is intentionally cruel, but rather that the habitat for the elephants (and I would argue, quite a few other animals as well) is far from adequate, and not going to change anytime soon.

PS- This is not a comment bomb.
Posted by UNPAID COMMENTER on May 12, 2011 at 4:45 PM · Report this
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Every concerned commenter will be feasting on other animals raised in windowless cages and tiny pens. Then SLOG and commenters will talk shit at vegetarians.

It's rather amusing.
Posted by six five on May 12, 2011 at 4:50 PM · Report this
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I did write a letter to the zoo. I had noticed, even before reading this article, that the elephants looked sad. I love seeing elephants and all, but i'd much rather watch them looking happy or at least content than the way they are at the zoo. speak out people! maybe they'll listen this time!
Posted by sinistercharacter on May 12, 2011 at 4:58 PM · Report this
Cui Bono 119
@110 You ARE either a moron or soulless.

Anyone who has actually been to Serengeti or Masai Mara could not come back and look at a zoo as anything but a prison for animals (I'd argue the Mara is essentially a people zoo where the whites can come to hoot and screech at the Masai). Even in their natural environment elephants are facing problems from poaching, sprawl and deforestation running up to and around the Mau Escarpment. Historically Kenyans and elephants have battled for land and resources, raids by elephants of neighboring houses and fields are still an issue, they'd probably love to just lock-up all the elephants. The oldest female of a herd is the leader, it usually has a detrimental effect on the rest if she's killed because of her wisdom and knowledge, but here are these three poor ladies, forced to be on top of each other in such a confined area.
Your blathering is definitely anecdotal, at best misguided, at worst blatant sock-puppetry.
Posted by Cui Bono on May 12, 2011 at 5:37 PM · Report this
"The Stranger has finally done an article about the inhumane existence of Bamboo, Chai, Watoto and Sri (on loan at the St. Louis Zoo). Please take a minute to write – even just one line – showing your support for the release of the elephants to the 2,700 acre Elephant Sanctuary.

Thousands of acres of freedom and being able to choose companions (from 14 elephants!) will allow them to heal physically and psychologically from the traumas suffered at Woodland Park Zoo.

The article:

Bamboo, Chai, Watoto and Sri need your help. Thanks!"

DEFINITELY not 'comment bombing'.... right?

Posted by Chai's Dance Teacher on May 12, 2011 at 6:18 PM · Report this
inb4 "sure we comment bombed but that doesnt make us wrong"
Posted by Friend of WPZ on May 12, 2011 at 6:24 PM · Report this
echoes of that period last year when the space needle people bombed the posts relating to choosing a new use for the fun forest space in seattle center in support of the chihuly option - what a fun time that was...
Posted by history mystery on May 12, 2011 at 10:01 PM · Report this
Thanks Cienna, great job exposing the truth behind this antiquated racket called a zoo. The treatment of these intelligent sensitive beings is horrible and does not deserve a cent of tax dollars! The best outcome would be to send the elephants to a sanctuary and stop pimping them out for profit and self aggrandisement. Similar pitiful stories have been coming out of zoos for years. They are resisting change but the facts speak eloquently for themselves. Stop exploiting animals, Woodland Park Zoo! If they were so happy and healthy, their behavior and survival would speak for itself! I have happy childhood memories, but I won't set foot there anymore and haven't for years. I will find more respectful, sustainable and non arrogant/exploitive ways to teach the youth about animals. Zoos need to change or go the way of the Fun Forest and other outdated amusements.
Posted by elephantsaresomuchwiser on May 12, 2011 at 10:20 PM · Report this
Thank you for writing this article. This topic is near and dear to my heart. Writing to the zoo, going to the zoo board meetings, and even handing out information in front of the zoo hasn't seemed to work. I hope that this article gets more attention to the issue. Thanks again!
Posted by bootsie206 on May 13, 2011 at 12:12 AM · Report this
SchmuckyTheCat 125
Wow, what a hit piece. This didn't start out as journalism and shouldn't even pretend to be.
Posted by SchmuckyTheCat on May 13, 2011 at 6:08 AM · Report this
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Revenge! 128
59 is absolutely right. This article has definitely been comment-bombed. Most of the bemoaners are first time posters. I've seen this before; they use the same "facts", patterns, and tactics on phinneywood.com and, because of it, I can't take them seriously. I'm sure the elephants would hate them too. Nice going, saboteurs.
Posted by Revenge! on May 13, 2011 at 6:59 AM · Report this
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Thank you to any and all people who speak out against the imprisonment of elephants in zoos. We supporters of animal rights and elephant rights plead to have the Woodland Park Zoo elephants released to a sanctuary where they can live out their lives in peace, which they deserve. Seattle, take the lead, make a stand, set an example, show the country we are a humane and animal rights community and release these beautiful, sensitive and intelligent elephants. We need to stick together and make it happen. Imprisonment = Abuse.
Posted by Nancy48 on May 13, 2011 at 8:31 AM · Report this
Thank you to any and all animal rights supporters and supporters of elephant rights. Imprisonment of elephants in zoos is both inhumane and abusive. We, as a community, need to continue to speak out and fight for the release of the Woodland Park Zoo elephants. Let's show our children about true humanity. Seattle, let's set an example to others that we are a humane,compassionate and animal rights community. These elephants deserve living the rest of their years in the safety, peace and freedom of an elephant sanctuary.Imprisonment = abuse. It is time for it to end!
Posted by Nancy48 on May 13, 2011 at 8:39 AM · Report this
Friends of Woodland Park Zoo Elephants has always acknowledged that the elephant keepers at WPZ take as good care of the elephants as they can under the circumstances. Over 3 ½ years of observing the elephants, we have documented that they are locked up for 16-17 hours for about 7 months of the year: AZA guidelines require this because of our climate. Using the numbers taken directly from the barn’s blueprints, we have told the WPZ and the Zoo Board that the human equivalent of the space in which the elephants are locked – one being in solitary confinement – is a square cell 4 feet on each side. It is the zoo environment that kills animals prematurely: in the past 11 years, half of the 76 elephants who have died in AZA accredited facilities, like WPZ, never reached the age of 40. The natural lifespan of elephants is 60-70 years. In other words, zoos are killing elephants prematurely just as poachers and loss of habitat are doing but in zoos they suffer every single day.

The Zoo Board can be leaders in education and heroes of compassion by voting to release the elephants. It’s a win all the way around:
• The city gets out from under a law suit.
• The zoo saves about $400,000.00 which is based on the last time WPZ released figures in 1995. (The zoo knew how much it cost to run the Nocturnal House last year. It would be financially irresponsible to not know how much it costs to keep elephants)
• Bamboo, Chai, Watoto and Sri get the life we owe them.

Alyne Fortgang, Co-founder, Friends of Woodland Park Zoo Elephants
Posted by alyne16 on May 13, 2011 at 9:42 AM · Report this
Thanks for writing this article and helping educate the public on the elephants' plight. So many people who attend the zoo are unaware how much the elephants suffer from lack of companionship, space to roam and freedom (not to mention the awful repeated artificial insemination attempts). I can't visit the zoo anymore knowing these beautiful creatures are receiving so little of what they need to live long, healthy lives.
Posted by ikm on May 13, 2011 at 10:53 AM · Report this

So what's the distinction between animals who need to be in sanctuaries and animals who need to be in your mouth...ability to display sadness?

I love that bashing vegans is hilarious to the Stranger and its readers, but when it comes to elephants, zOMG OH NOES!

Posted by six five on May 13, 2011 at 11:19 AM · Report this
You_Gotta_Be_Kidding_Me 135
Why do you hate inner city children so much?
Posted by You_Gotta_Be_Kidding_Me on May 13, 2011 at 11:24 AM · Report this
@134 so when it comes to animal cruelty, its an 'all-or-nothing' deal?
Let me know how that extremism works out for you and your cause.
Posted by UNPAID COMMENTER on May 13, 2011 at 12:35 PM · Report this
Kept in a tiny confine. Don't these animals walk miles everyday? Looks like a scene from Girl, Interrupted in there. They are "so cute" as an animal social experiment. Not!
Posted by Dahling Purpose on May 13, 2011 at 12:49 PM · Report this
Fnarf 138
@59, @128, what the hell are you talking about, "comment bombing"?

For starters, this article isn't on Slog, it's on The Stranger, which is a different thing.

Second, all of these supposed "comment bombers" went to the trouble of signing up for an account, which satisfies 100% of the requirement for posting here. It's the same process by which all of us got here. It's the same process by which YOU got here.

Did these people come here just to comment on the elephant story? WHO CARES? They're people just as much as you are. Maybe more, since they're not going around criticizing others not for their views but for the very fact that they have posted those views. That's baloney.

If you have a problem with the article, let's hear it. What's your argument? Cienna's made hers, and I think she's made it pretty well. I've been following this elephant story for several years now, and I started off 100% on the zoo's side, but I'm about 90% switched over by now. That's because the "move the elephants" side is making a pretty good case, while the "keep them here" side ISN'T. Instead you're just going on the personal attack.

As for the zoo's handling of the critters, I haven't heard ANYONE suggest that they don't care for them deeply and treat them as kindly and respectfully as possible. That's not the point. The point is whether a bunch of these huge, mobile animals can live well in such a tiny enclosure or not.

I'm old enough to remember when the zoo pavilion first opened. It was considered state of the art at the time; before that they were kept in basically a room, like all the other animals in the bad old zoos of the 50s and 60s -- remember Bobo, in his concrete cell? This was a big step forward. But time has shown that it's not enough.

If you disagree, that's great -- let's have it. But don't go telling people they shouldn't be commenting at all. Everyone's voice here is as good as anyone else's.

My suggestion is to take them out for walks up and down Aurora every day -- across the bridge, back up and around the lake and home. There's your 20 miles.
Posted by Fnarf http://www.facebook.com/fnarf on May 13, 2011 at 1:08 PM · Report this
seatackled 139
That guy who says he's a photographer? He sure ain't doing the Zoo any favors here.
Posted by seatackled on May 13, 2011 at 2:35 PM · Report this

Absolutely no opinion on the piece or the issue on which the piece focuses; I certainly don't consider myself sufficiently well-informed about the issue to make a conclusion about what ought to be done re: these elephants.

What I don't understand is why you would come to the vocal defense of a person or people using this tactic. I read (daily) and participate (less frequently) on thestranger.com and slog because it seems like a good place to discuss the issues of a city I care deeply about with likeminded and intelligent people (for the most part). Commenting and discussing the ideas found in stories and posts is a vital part of that process to me because I feel like I have come to know want to hear the opinions of other people (including you, who I consider one of the most clear headed and generally awesome characters of slog) whose insight I have come to value.

Simply signing up an account, coming on here, posting on one issue per a script provided to you by an organization of some sort is to me an equivalent to the kind of tactics (seen more often in our culture these days) of groups who support one position attempting to shout down or drown out any opposing opinion by shear force and volume rather than through reasoning and debate ("townhall" meetings, that forum regarding what to do with the Fun Forest, etc.). And although I sometimes agree and sometimes disagree with the ideas and opinions conveyed by these groups, I recognize that these tactics are the enemy of the concept of an articulate, informed and civil public debate; a concept which I think is essential.

Maybe that is the way the world works now, but I continue to decry it, and I will bring attention to these tactics if and when I see them used. Yes, even on the internet.
Posted by history mystery on May 13, 2011 at 9:02 PM · Report this
Animal 141
Maybe folks in Seattle should reach out to Bob Barker of "The Price is Right" fame. He just convinced the powers that be at the Toronto Zoo to re-locate its elephants to a sanctuary. I believe the gist of Barker's argument was "Canada is too fucking cold for elephants!" Persuasive.
Posted by Animal on May 13, 2011 at 9:26 PM · Report this
Canadian Nurse 142
@141: Not entirely true. They're relocating the elephants, and have said they'll send them to the California sanctuary only if they are unable to find space for them in an AZA zoo.

The zoo was already in discussions about what to do with the elephants. The choices were $16.5m facility improvements or moving them to another locations, and Barker offered to help pay for them to move.
Posted by Canadian Nurse on May 14, 2011 at 6:44 AM · Report this
What makes me mad and sad is that the WPZ knows what it is doing is wrong, but keeps doing it because it thinks it generates revenue. Unless people actually boycott the zoo until the elephants are allowed to leave, nothing will change. People should write letters announcing their boycott of the zoo. They have no conscience, so it's all about money to them.
Posted by BobbieM on May 14, 2011 at 8:47 AM · Report this
Why move them from one zoo to another? They'll be living under the same circumstances as they were at the old zoo. The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee is the best place for them. They have a full time vet and 10 caretakers. The elephants are free to be elephants and no visitors are allowed. They have 2700 acres of fields and lakes to roam around in and also warm, cozy barns if it gets a little chilly and they want to go inside.
Posted by DaNewf on May 14, 2011 at 11:12 AM · Report this
Animal 145
Canadian Nurse - Hi! Thanks for the fuller picture of the elephant situation at the Toronto Zoo. Have you ever been to the T.O Zoo? The Polar Bears will blow your mind! They've got paws the size of couch cushions!
Posted by Animal on May 15, 2011 at 8:25 PM · Report this
Canadian Nurse 146
I go to the zoo a few times each year, Animal. Some artist friends of mine have memberships and we go and they'll take pictures to take home and sketch. I *love* the polar bears. They seem much happier in Toronto in the winter than the elephants do!
Posted by Canadian Nurse on May 17, 2011 at 9:19 AM · Report this
I went to the Woodland Park Zoo for the first time in a decade and I couldn't stand to look at the elephants. I remember seeing them standing on a concrete slab caged in by a chain link fence. That is not living. What is being done is far worse than simply walking up and putting a bullet through their brain. They are suffering, and anyone who argues that is inhuman.
Posted by OMFJC http://www.facebook.com/?ref=home#!/profile.php?id=100000615949129 on May 17, 2011 at 2:43 PM · Report this
I thank you for writing this article and bringing this issue to the fore. Elephants are intellegent, feeling animals and don't deserve a life like this. I didn't know about the artifical inseminations or the plight of Sri, and both disgust me. How can you keep doing that to those poor animals who didn't have a choice? How shameful and creul to keep doing it again and again, when nature obviously doesn't want it to happen! I'm sure it's painful at least physically, or they are drugging her that many times. The last time I saw that exhibit and Pt. Defiance, both struck me as patches of fenced-in dirt, and those same thoughts occurred to me as are in the article. I feel so badly for them. I recently bought a membership to the zoo because I have a 6-year old, and am now having regrets. It's also hard to explain to the 6-year old why I won't let him go to the circus. I don't think those elephants have it much better. We as humans need to do better for the earth and its creatures, and I hope humankind will realize that and change.
Posted by SeaPurple on May 17, 2011 at 3:05 PM · Report this
Raul 149
At first, I was just going to write about how dumb and unimportant elephants are and that their captivity is irrelevant to anything. But now, after reading about the psychology of these big fuckers, I find the Woodland Park Zoo a sad place to visit.
I could care less about most animals, because I like to eat most animals. There ought to be a little more respect shown to these elephants though. We should care about something like this, shit. But do we? And what will happen to the Woodland Park Zoo? (The questions are both rhetorical: No and Nothing.)
Posted by Raul on May 17, 2011 at 5:07 PM · Report this
Seeds 150
There's a reason the only people who go to the zoo are bored breeder moms and their offspring. Everybody else finds the place repugnant and depressing.
Posted by Seeds on May 17, 2011 at 5:32 PM · Report this
JF 151
False rage. Seattle's number one export.
Posted by JF on May 17, 2011 at 8:55 PM · Report this
Posted by Elle the Elephant on May 17, 2011 at 11:53 PM · Report this
Here's an idea: why doesn't Woodland Park leave the poor pachyderms alone and go after the GOP!
Posted by auntie grizelda on May 19, 2011 at 1:37 AM · Report this
Nice article. Now, would it be possible to have the same about cattle? Animals well being should not depend on how cute or impressive they are to us. Cash cows or cows, if you think one deserve a decent life why not the other?

For all who justify the existence of zoo for the need of "connecting" with animals: if you really connected by looking at them, you wouldn't stand what's done to them. On the contrary, we look at all this depressed and bored animals that barely move at all and we get used to think that they're just like zombies; walking and eating. If you want to connect to animals, get a pet and treat him well or look at a documentary, which is the only real way to see them in a wild state (aka, living, playing, traveling, reproducing, giving birth, hunting, dying,... ) for 99,999% of us.
Posted by Kyrie on May 20, 2011 at 12:32 PM · Report this
There are so many things about this article I'd like to refute but for now I am going to stick with the most obvious. It seems so obvious to me that if you and your readers really cared about elephants then you'd be spending your time, energy, and resources where it would count the most--helping to address the incresing demand for ivory and the poaching of elephants that is leading to mass destruction of elephants in the wild. You all know in your hearts--if you can get down off your activists high-horses for a minute--that these three elephants are well cared for and do not lack the necessities of life. Worry about the ones who don't enjoy those necessities and let these professionals get on with their work.

I think the article is biased beyond comment, the half-baked facts are poorly presented and the tone is designed to appeal to activists who often do not choose to think for themselves. Badly done, Cienna. Next time try for the journalistic approach of interviewing authorities, presenting all POVs, citing sources, etc.
Posted by NicWin on May 20, 2011 at 1:11 PM · Report this
Some of us may have forgotten (or are too young to remember) that in June of 2002 a senior elephant keeper admitted in an email to another keeper that he had physically punished young female elephant Hansa with the blunt end of a hooked pole (an ankus) for what he perceived as misbehavior. PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) acquired the email, forwarded it to reporters in Seattle, and the story headlined the news in virtually all Seattle media.

Just in case anyone thinks this is unsupported fabrication or "comment bombing," here is an excerpt from The Seattle Times, 7/23/2002:

"He said Hansa was reprimanded June 22 because she had pushed him with her head after he tried to stop her from eating dirt, one of her nasty habits. Her move knocked him off balance, and then she moved her rump toward him.

He said he smacked her with his ankus and that when she ran away, he smacked her twice more.

Then Hansa dashed into the viewing area and bellowed loudly, and her mother came running.

The incident lasted three minutes, but the repercussions are continuing. The zoo received hate mail, and Shrake worried about wearing his name tag in public."

This was probably an isolated incident and not nearly as significant as the ongoing stressful environment in which the elephants at WPZ are trying to survive today. Still, in honor of Hansa's memory, it should not be forgotten. She died at the zoo when she was only 5 years old.

Posted by Muckraker on May 20, 2011 at 11:31 PM · Report this
This article is so incredibly one sided and badly sourced it makes me sick. You are literally making things up.

Saying things like "Presumably, there's a 90 percent chance that will happen again" is just irresponsible. You have NO DATA to support that. You have referenced almost exclusively the people bringing the lawsuit. Very ethical.

Jesus, "Stranger", how can you allow such blatantly junk journalism to pollute your paper and website?

P.S. To the woman who thinks that Chai was pregnant and miscarried 57 times: you're retarded. They made 57 attempts (although, who really know if that's even true, based on the incredible misinformation in this article.) Do you become pregnant every time you have sex? No? Shut up. She had the ONE miscarriage, not 57. Learn to read.
Posted by Nula on May 21, 2011 at 10:09 AM · Report this
please do something woodlands zoo, they do not deserve this
Posted by mummyclaire on May 22, 2011 at 1:44 PM · Report this
check out American Humane's page and this video - another sad Elephant story. Just wondering if you had seen this video - pls ck it out - and let me know what you think - IF what is stated in this article and what reads on the screen of the video - I find it terribly disturbing that American Humane stands behind the training of Tai the elephant. I would truly welcome your thoughts and comments. ck this out: (pls feel free to share with others - I don't think this is getting the recognition it deserves) http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/earthne…
I tried to post the link on AH FB page, but they deleted it.
Posted by Kim Mackie on May 23, 2011 at 11:42 AM · Report this
Another sad Elephant Story - Tai - from the movie Water for Elephants. I was just wondering if you had seen this video - pls ck it out - and let me know what you think - IF what is stated in this article and what reads on the screen of the video - I find it terribly disturbing that American Humane stands behind the training of Tai the elephant. I would truly welcome your thoughts and comments. ck this out: (pls feel free to share with others - I don't think this is getting the recognition it deserves) www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/earthnews/8505…
Posted by Kim Mackie on May 23, 2011 at 11:49 AM · Report this
@59 and others - I'm a constant internet lurker; while I constantly read and enjoy blogs, I rarely am interested to share an opinion. This piece (while obviously remaining one-sided since WPZ refused to participate in any real way) moved me to write the Seattle City Council, WPZ President, and share this comment. I am NOT affiliated with any animal rights group (for or against WPZ), government agency, or other political/social group. I'm just a Seattle resident/taxpayer that cannot stand to see such a reckless disregard for animal rights supported by MY tax dollars. So, yeah, let these elephants be moved to The Elephant Sanctuary (FOR FREE)and then this comment thread (and any perceived bombing of it) can really be closed. And by the way, the fact that you comment a lot doesn't make you more qualified than anyone else--it just means you feel the need to share more than most.
Posted by JustASeattleResident on June 6, 2011 at 1:39 PM · Report this
We visited the zoo reluctantly (family gathering) a week prior to this story being published. My husband and I were sick to our stomachs most the time we visited.

We felt the elephants didn't look happy one bit. There was a fence (electric?) that was popping the whole time we walked the area around the elephants. How soothing for them.

I am glad this article was written.
Posted by andreamae on June 27, 2011 at 12:39 PM · Report this
online sunglasses store http://www.sunlool.com
Posted by sunlool on July 19, 2011 at 6:40 PM · Report this
I've tried writing 2 comments, but both disappear when I try to write my name, but here goes for the last time. Elephants are wonderful and highly intelligent creatures. These captive elephants need to be sent to the 2700 acre Elephant Sanctuary in TN. where they will have free roam, they can swim in large lakes, they're fed the diets they love and can hang out with the particular elephants they bond with. They don't "dance", as one child thought the elephant was doing. They sway from side to side and bob their heads up and down when stressed out. If all animal lovers wrote to newspapers in the cities that have zoos and circuses, we could get the truth out as to how these poor animals are treated. Get the networks in on it like CNN, Animal Planet, Planet Green, etc. We'd get alot more of the public informed than is informed at present; and I bet that kids would get the word out. They are much more sensitive than their adults.
Give these wonderful creatures a chance at having a good life.
They deserve it. To live with their sisters and play and enjoy life like it was meant to be. We have no right to think they are ours to entertain us. Some of those fees the zoos have made on showing them should be used to transport them to the Sanctuary.
If the zoos are opposed to this, I bet The Sanctuary might be willing to transport them. Do what's right for them. They've given their whole lives to live in Hell. Now, it's their time to enjoy the good life for the rest of their lives. Forget about reporting their situation to the USDA. The might take up the cross, but I doubt it. I haven't seen them do anything for 1 elephant sice I have loved them and I've e-mailed, faxed and called. The Taxpayers pay his salary, but just like everybody in Washington, he's forgotten what he's supposed to do for its citizens. Let me finish by saying that unless those of us do what we can for the elephants, it's not going to get done. Who, with a heart and compassion is going to let an elephant continue to carry around a dead fetus for 4 years and not remedy the situation no matter what the cost? What about some of that $6.5Mil?
Thanks for listening and thinking about all of this. It's way past time.
Posted by: Mars.Bees
Posted by Mars.Bees on August 26, 2011 at 12:22 AM · Report this
Thank you for this story, Cienna. Hard to believe that you wrote it over two years ago and a lot of the same conversations are continuing. Thanks, again.
Posted by aw on October 22, 2013 at 1:59 PM · Report this

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