The blood infection that killed Chai in Oklahoma City came after the elephant lost 1,050 pounds in the short time since she’d left Seattle’s Woodland Park Zoo, The Seattle Times learned from a public records request.
Chai was weighed only twice at the Oklahoma zoo, records show, although she’d dropped from 8,150 pounds when she left Seattle on April 15 to 7,100 pounds when she died in January.
An Oklahoma City zoo veterinarian said they relied on a visual scoring system. “You couldn’t see her ribs, nothing that would indicate the degree of fat loss that was going on,” Jennifer D’Agostino told Times reporter Sandi Doughton. (Today’s paper also included the supposedly celebratory news that the Woodland Park Zoo has named a baby gorilla it bred in captivity. Her name is Yola.)
If a veterinarian couldn’t see Chai’s deterioration, it would be even harder for a Woodland Park Zoo docent who visited Oklahama City and wrote that Chai’s last days were “happy.”
Now we know they were horrific. Twice in the weeks before she died, Chai was unable to stand up.
We also know from the records Doughton received that Bamboo, the other Seattle elephant who was transferred to Oklahoma instead of to a sanctuary, was distressed enough during one public performance that she knocked Chai off her feet.
It’s not too late to get Bamboo to a sanctuary. On the advice of Nancy Pennington and Alyne Fortgang, co-founders of the Friends of Woodland Park Zoo Elephants, please do these two things in Chai’s memory:
1. Write an email to Mayor Murray and the Seattle City Council. Addresses to cut and paste are below. Just one line will do!
2. Sign this petition: http://www.peta.org/action/action-alerts/oklahoma-city-zoo-close-elephant-exhibit/
email@example.com, Ed.firstname.lastname@example.org,Kshama.Sawant@seattle.gov, email@example.com ,Sally.Bagshaw@seattle.gov,
Tim.Burgess@seattle.gov, Bruce.Harrell@seattle.gov, Mike.OBrien@seattle.gov, Debora.Juarez@seattle.gov, Lorena.Gonzalez@seattle.gov, Rob.firstname.lastname@example.org
The wonderful Chimpanzee Sanctuary Northwest, which was “founded in 2003 to provide sanctuary for chimpanzees discarded from the entertainment and biomedical testing industries,” is holding its annual fundraising shindig — which is a scrumptuous blast! — on Saturday, April 30, at 6 p.m.
Seven chimpanzees live at the sanctuary — all from a private biomedical facility in Pennsylvania. Before being used to test hepatitis vaccines and (the females) as breeders, they were captured in Africa and/or kept as pets and/or used in entertainment.
Now Annie, Burrito, Foxie, Jamie, Jody, Missy and Negra live in a safe, peaceful place, making choices about how to spend their time — inside where it’s warm or adventuring outdoors. You can meet them and learn what they’re doing on the sanctuary’s blog.
You can also support them and help the sanctuary expand to be a haven for more chimpanzees by attending Hoot!, an awesome evening of vegan food and camaraderie, with a live auction, dessert dash and raffle.
Tickets are $100 through April 1, or $750 for a table of eight. Sign up before they sell out, and we’ll see you there!
That might be the first time Chai was at peace since being taken from her mother at the age of one in Thailand. She was beaten at one location, then artificially inseminated 112 times in Seattle, where she also lost her 6-year-old daughter, Hansa, to herpes — a disease that’s ravaged young elephants in zoos for decades.
Chai also suffered from the pacing and swaying (here in Seattle) that’s indictive of the extreme trauma, stress and boredom that so many smart, social animals in captivity endure.
Zoo officials said the average life expectancy for an Asian elephant is 47. That’s in captivity. In the wild, Chai would be in the prime of her life, as Friends of Woodland Park Zoo Elephants point out.
Malee, a 3-year-old elephant, died of herpes in Oklahoma City last fall.
When zoo CEO Deborah Jensen bucked Seattle residents’ and the mayor’s wishes to send Chai and Bamboo to a sanctuary, and instead sent them to suffer in another zoo, she went against the wisdom of one of her predecessors and Lyn Tangen, from the Woodland Park Zoo Elephant Task Force, who wrote: “No one can seriously doubt that elephants that have 15 or more acres to roam are better off than elephants crammed into a 1 or 2 acre exhibit in a zoo…. In the 21st century, Seattle has better ways to save wild elephants and their habitats than continuing to keep Chai and Bamboo at a zoo.”
Jensen, who was a huge success in the captive-elephant-loving Association of Zoos and Aquariums, is blessedly no longer in charge of the zoo.
Now Bamboo is alone in Oklahoma City, trying to integrate with a herd after an unsuccessful integration attempt years ago.
Help Animals India is having its first-ever Seattle benefit for India’s animals.
Date: October 17, 2015
Time: 5 pm
Cost: $15 (tickets available here)
Location: Culture Shakti Dance, Seattle
Despite some of the best animal protection laws in the world and a renowned heritage of reverence for life, modern India is a country where millions of animals suffer severe neglect or abuse.
Overpopulation, poverty, pollution, superstition, apathy and ignorance all contribute to their plight. In a country where human misery and impoverishment remain high, the welfare of destitute animals is a low priority.
Help Animals India is a Seattle-based non-profit dedicated to improving the welfare of animals in India by raising money for dedicated Indian animal protection groups and advising them on how to improve their capacity to help the animals.
Join them for a fun evening of Indian Dance Performance by the Dancers of Culture Shakti, Indian and World Vibes Music by Dj Seanuman, Mystic Kombucha on Tap, and a Catered Silent Auction with Items from local businesses.
Delicious Food Provided by Chaco Canyon, The Shop Agora, & Cupcake Royale.
ALL proceeds go the benefit Help Animals India
Can’t make the event? Please consider donating - any amount helps!
Cecil the Lion, as he was known, was a lion who lived in Zimbabwe. You’ve probably seen the media storm and public outrage this week about his murder. A wealthy American paid to hunt down Cecil—at night, by luring him out of a preserve—and shoot him with a crossbow.
It was nothing but a cowardly act by a small-minded trophy hunter, hell-bent on proving his sense of worth by killing others.
What I learned from the frenzy this week is that it pays to have a name. Cecil was a lion who’d been photographed by tourists for years (he was 12 or 13). He was GPS-collared and was part of an Oxford University study. But he was no different from many other lions that wealthy westerners (usually Americans) pay to kill. Six hundred lions are killed in trophy hunts every year, according to National Geographic.
Cecil sparked public outcry because he was well-known. In the same way we mourn for a celebrity’s death, but not the random people who also die.
For most people, the lion is a majestic creature. King of the jungle. We don’t associate them with food or clothing. That’s another thing Cecil had going for him. People around the world have issued hate mail and death threats to Cecil’s killer, and vigils and protests have sprung up at the man’s business.
Most of the people disgusted with Cecil’s death likely also eat and wear other animals. It’s a disconnect. Melanie Joy addresses this topic in-depth in her book, Why we Love Dogs, Eat pigs, and Wear Cows. This phenomenon (of loving some animals and eating others) she calls carnism. The book explains how people compartmentalize and justify this discrepancy.
It’s okay to mourn for Cecil. His death was a tragedy. His pride is in jeopardy, and his cubs will likely be killed by competing lions. But we need to also mourn for the millions of dogs and cats who are euthanized each year because they have no homes. And for the billions of farmed animals whose lives are brutal and short. They are all as precious as Cecil and as deserving of life.
We can’t stop evil people from hunting (although signing the petition to ask Zimbabwe to stop issuing hunting permits or the petition to include lions on the endangered species list would help). But we can adopt dogs and cats and never buy from breeders. And we can choose to not eat animals.
If you’re not already, please go vegan—for the countless animals just like Cecil, who are worthy of our admiration and who want to live.
Are you ready to sing for the elephants?
Friends of Woodland Park Zoo Elephants will be caroling throughout City Hall to Christmas songs reworded to promote Bamboo and Chai’s retirement to a sanctuary.
As you may have heard, Woodland Park Zoo is closing their elephant exhibit and relocating the elephants. However, they are planning to send the girls to another zoo. They need to go to a sanctuary. The Mayor has the power to make that happen!
When: Monday, December 15th, 2014 from 10:45am to noon.
Where: Main lobby of Seattle City Hall, 600 4th Ave, Seattle, 98104.
The main lobby is at the 5th Avenue entrance between Cherry and James streets (or just go upstairs from the 4th Ave entrance).
Please wear ORANGE. Wear the t-shirt from previous actions or your own orange top.
According to a September 9, 2014 USDA inspection report, the Woodland Park Zoo violated the Animal Welfare Act (AWA) by failing to ensure that elephants have “access to shelter during inclement weather to afford them protection and to prevent their discomfort.”
Woodland Park Zoo has demonstrated once again that they don’t put the elephants’ well-being first. It’s taken the USDA to discover a violation of the AWA to force the zoo to protect the elephants from our unsuitable climate. What’s even more astonishing is that the zoo needs to take another year—2 years total to put up a rain shelter. (A year ago the Task Force said to put up a rain shelter.)
If this enrages you, PLEASE write to the Zoo and others! Will you help Chai and Bamboo by emailing?
The Mayor and Sally Bagshaw are on this list and will monitor how many emails the Zoo gets. PLEASE, write – even one line.
PLEASE be thoughtful and respectful in order to make an impact. All of our reputations are on the line.
Just copy and paste the email list below. It includes the Zoo’s administration, curators, sales and donor staff, elephant and other keepers, and as many Zoo Board and Task Force members’ addresses we could find, and City and some County council members. (Some email addresses may bounce back and some people are away at a conference. They can think about your comments in their hotel room!)
L-ExecutiveLeadershipTeam@zoo.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, Bruce.Bohmke@zoo.org, Nancy.Hawkes@zoo.org, Bruce.Upchurch@zoo.org, Darin.Collins@zoo.org, Kelly.Helmick@zoo.org, Lisa.Dabek@zoo.org, Steve.Cremer@zoo.org, Russ.email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, Jim.Bennett@zoo.org, firstname.lastname@example.org, Gigi.Allianic@zoo.org, Laura.Lockard@zoo.org, Anne.Knapp@zoo.org, Kim.Haas@zoo.org, Rebecca.Whitham@zoo.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, DeggingerG@LanePowell.com, email@example.com,firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, Glennkawasaki@hotmail.com, Pattisavoy@hotmail.com, Ddevita@hotmail.com, Elizabeth.A.Sicktich@wellsfargo.com, email@example.com, LSCaputo@aol.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, Kirsten.Pisto@zoo.org, email@example.com, Fred.Koontz@zoo.org, Jamie.Creola@zoo.org, Kathryn.firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, Tim.Burgess@seattle.gov, Sally.Clark@seattle.gov, Bruce.Harrell@seattle.gov, Nick.Licata@seattle.gov, Tom.Rasmussen@seattle.gov, Mike.OBrien@seattle.gov, Kshama.Sawant@seattle.gov, email@example.com
Here are some talking points or just send an email you already wrote. Friends of Woodland Park Zoo Elephants’ web site is a huge resource:
FYI: This is what the Mayor said on Oct. 22, 2014: “When I was a legislator I supported the removal of elephants from the zoo. My position has not changed…I hope we can reach an agreement with the zoo…I realize there are levers we could pull, but I think it’s too soon to have those discussions.” (21:40 and 51:17 time code) http://www.seattlechannel.org/videos/video.asp?ID=3011410
Thanks for helping get Chai and Bamboo to a sanctuary.
Save the Date: Dec. 2nd Zoo Board Meeting at 4pm. Get to Zoo by 3:40. Details when we get closer.
The Seattle Post-Intelligencer published an article yesterday that attributed Watoto’s death to chronic, age-related arthritis.
“We don’t know if Watoto fell or laid down. My clinical assessment is that she was unable to stand back up, due to the joint disease,” Dr. Darin Collins, the zoo’s director of Animal Health, said in a report.
Watoto, the lone Asian elephant in Seattle’s Woodland Park Zoo, died because she couldn’t stand up. And she couldn’t stand because of her ailing joints, caused by the environment in which she was forced to live: hard substrate in the barn and unyielding compacted ground outside. She didn’t suffer from any diseases or heart problems. And she wasn’t old–despite what the zoo is trying to tell people.
The zoo said the median life expectancy of an African elephant is 41 years. Watoto was 45. But the key word in the zoos statement is median. If you exclude baby elephants, who die more often than adults, and you exclude poaching, which takes the lives of elephants in their prime, you’ll see that elephants in the wild live longer than their captive counterparts. Wild elephants can live into their 60s and 70s. In fact, females are most fertile between 35 and 45, meaning in the wild, Watoto would be still giving birth to calves.
Wild elephants don’t suffer the degenerative joint diseases and foot problems like the majority of captive elephants face.
Confined elephants can’t travel like they should. In the wild, elephants can travel twenty miles a day. Elephants who aren’t free develop psychological problems and physical health problems.
Woodland Park Zoo said Watoto was geriatric. They want people to think Watoto was old. In reality, she suffered because she was isolated and confined. Captivity killed her.
The two surviving elephants, Chai and Bamboo, urgently need to be released to a sanctuary. Please keep up the pressure on Seattle City Council and Mayor Ed Murray.
You can sign this petition, and you can write to the council and mayor at the addresses below.
Seattle Mayor and City Council addresses:
Ed.firstname.lastname@example.org, Jean.Godden@seattle.gov, Sally.Bagshaw@seattle.gov, Tim.Burgess@seattle.gov, Sally.Clark@seattle.gov, Bruce.Harrell@seattle.gov, Nick.Licata@seattle.gov, Tom.Rasmussen@seattle.gov, Mike.OBrien@seattle.gov, Kshama.Sawant@seattle.gov
King Council addresses:
email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, Dave.Upthegrove@kingcounty.gov, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com
Zoo management and Board of Directors: Deborah.firstname.lastname@example.org, Bruce.Bohmke@zoo.org, Darin.Collins@zoo.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org
Sanctuary is the humane choice that is a win for all stakeholders:
Necropsy Reveals Disturbing Death of Seattle Zoo Elephant
Did Neglect Kill Woodland Park’s African Elephant Matriarch?
Friends of Woodland Park Zoo Elephants
Community Coalition for Elephant Retirement
…because at SOME POINT, SOMEWHERE, SOMEONE is going to open a last letter, click on a last email, read the results of a last poll, and finally say, OK. We’re done.
Standing at a protest outside Woodland Park
Prison Zoo a few days ago, I was nonplussed at the number of people giving us the thumbs-up and waving and nodding….as they went in to visit the zoo. I wondered about it aloud to a fellow protester: why are these people still going in if they agree with our reason for being here? One of the people marching in turned around and said truculently, BECAUSE IT’S FUN!
I remember being there. I went to zoos. I went to aquariums. I went to Sea World. I went to Parrot Jungle. It was something you did if you ‘loved animals': you went to look at them. Even when I was very little, it made me vaguely uncomfortable. My parents always seemed sad there, but they went anyway. It was as if we all knew something fundamental about it was badly wrong, but it was an immutable part of the status quo. Finding out exactly how bad those places are was never much of a surprise, but finding out how POWERFUL individuals are in creating change, was.
Predictably, Sea World has reacted to calls for liberation by deciding to build bigger prisons, hoping most people won’t realize bigger bathtubs are still bathtubs, even if they are decorated around the edges with plastic rocks and plants.
I am asking you to let them know a real sea change has occurred, and no amount of window dressing will ever make imprisonment for entertainment alright again. It’s gone beyond conditions. It is a matter of rights. The ones they have and we don’t.
So please, right now, when you finish reading — not later today, not tomorrow — tell SeaWorld to set in place a firm plan to release the animals to sanctuaries that can provide them with a more natural environment (like sea pens, pending release). And tell them to do it now — not in 10 years, not even in five.
Sign an online petition here.
And/or better yet, make direct contact:
Jim Atchison (president & CEO of SeaWorld), PO Box 690129, Orlando, FL 32869
The Blackstone Group
Contact information for 29 locations to write, call and/or fax…
With the passing of Watoto, The Seattle Times wrote a superb Editorial about elephants in captivity.
Please vote and share the poll with everyone you know!
Chai and Bamboo NEED your help to get a strong vote. We need to show the Mayor and City Council that people want the elephants to go to a sanctuary.
Please VOTE and share!