Woodland Park Zoo Elephants Endure Deplorable Living Conditions as Release Efforts Continue

No word can adequately describe the hideous life that Bamboo, Watoto and Chai endure in Seattle’s Woodland Park Zoo. 

Imagine a prisoner who ends up in solitary confinement. A tiny cell barely big enough to turn around. No social interaction. These elephants try to tolerate the same conditions, yet they are innocent. What did they do to deserve such horrific treatment?   

They were born in captivity.                           Spaceless in Seattle video from YouTube

The attached video “Spaceless in Seattle” poignantly shows what Bamboo, Watoto and Chai are enduring.

The facts:  Elephants mirror humans in emotion and development. Their memories are much better than ours. Their family units, close-knit from birth, last until death. They create friendships and grieve over the loss of loved ones. They love to walk – elephant migration routes in Africa stretch for hundreds of miles.   

The Woodland Park elephants are a mess: 

Two of them stand in agony from chronic foot infections, which are the leading cause of death in zoo elephants. All three ache from arthritis and suffer bouts of colic.

Since the zoo has only allotted one acre for their walks, which in elephant terms is zero space, they may develop heart disease just like us.

If an elephant psychiatrist existed, then these three would be treated for chronic anxiety and depression from being cooped up seven months out of the year due to cold weather.

I’m obviously not a veterinarian, but if Bamboo, Watoto and Chai’s health continues to decline as a direct result of their confinement, then wouldn’t it make sense to release them to a sanctuary where they will thrive and live out their lives in peace?

Dame Daphne Sheldrick, matriarch of the celebrated elephant orphanage in Nairobi, Kenya and also a strong opponent for keeping elephants in zoos, says that elephants are huge moneymakers for zoos. 

Most people will never see an elephant in the wild, so they visit a zoo. Zoos entice crowds of visitors with effective marketing campaigns, as well as establishing breeding programs,   which assist in generating revenue. Some breeding programs are vital to conservation.

In the 1960s, the Phoenix Zoo brought back the Arabian Oryx from near extinction with its successful breeding program. In this case, the program was carefully executed in an environment appropriate for the animal. 

But how can Bamboo, Watoto or Chai, when already stressed, and with herpes running rampant within their prison, possibly give birth to a viable infant?

Alyne Fortgang, co-founder of the Friends of Woodland Park Zoo Elephants, says releasing the elephants to the 2,700 acre elephant sanctuary in Tennessee is a win-win situation:

The zoo would save $400,000 per year, which is the annual cost of keeping elephants; the city will get out of a law suit; children will learn a valuable lesson in compassion from the zoo;  and most importantly, grateful elephants.

Woodland Park Zoo officials need to do what’s right as other zoos have realized, and release Bamboo, Watoto and Chai to the elephant sanctuary.

Dame Daphne Sheldrick has said,  “I have come to look upon elephants, not as four-legged machines put here for the benefit of mankind, but as creatures with as much right to enjoy the world God gave them as we have.”

Please visit  http://www.freewpzelephants.com for further information and how you can help.

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