Category Archives: Animal Sanctuaries

Seattle benefit for Help Animals India

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

help animals india

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.

Get your tickets today!

ALL proceeds go the benefit Help Animals India

Can’t make the event? Please consider donating - any amount helps!

You can find out more about Help Animals India on their website  or on their Facebook page.

Cecil the Lion

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.

a lion similar to Cecil

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.

Caroling at City Hall

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.

Woodland Park Zoo in Violation over Elephant Care


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!),,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

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:

  • Elephants are intelligent, far ranging animals that suffer physically and psychologically when confined in a tiny, impoverished environment.
  • The Mayor and City Council can act to retire the elephants. This violation of the AWA shows that the Zoo doesn’t put the elephants’ well-being first.
  • The Zoo’s revenues are down 6% in a booming local economy.  Nationwide, animal organizations’ revenues are at an all-time high.  Keeping elephants is bad for the Zoo’s reputation.
  • A sanctuary is the best we can do for Bamboo and Chai.  We owe this to them after giving up their entire lives to entertain us.
  • Two elephants, Watoto and Hansa, have died prematurely.  No more dead elephants!

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)

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 truth about Watoto

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:,,,,,,,,,

King Council addresses:,,,,,,,,,

Zoo management and Board of Directors:,,,,

Sanctuary is the humane choice that is a win for all stakeholders:

  • The Zoo–and taxpayers–will save money and the zoo can be a leader in compassion.
  • Children will learn a valuable lesson in science
  • The Seattle Mayor, City Council, and citizens can be proud of their humane leadership
  • Most of all, Bamboo and Chai will have the best quality of life available.

Further reading:

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


Keep Up the Pressure on Sea World…

…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…

Poll: Should Woodland Park Zoo send its elephants to a sanctuary?

With the passing of Watoto, The Seattle Times wrote a superb Editorial about elephants in captivity.

Please read the article and answer the poll about whether the zoo should send its elephants to a sanctuary. The poll is at the end of the article.

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.

elephants in zoos or sanctuaries

Please VOTE and share!

Quickest Easiest Action Alert Ever: 2 clicks

Woodland Park Prison Zoo has announced it will send its lone African elephant,  Watoto, to be exhibited in another zoo. Which could be even worse than here.


Watoto is 44 years old, and has spent every miserable one of them at Woodland Park since since she was taken from her mother as a baby in Kenya. IT IS NOT RIGHT that she die in a zoo.  After 44 years of making money for WPZ,  they OWE her.  Every person who ever went to the zoo (myself included, once 15 years ago) owes her.  Way more than can ever be repaid, for the theft of 44 years of family, friends and freedom.  She has a host of painful health issues, as well as the emotional ones caused by prolonged solitary confinement. The absolute LEAST the Zoo should do is let her go.  And the Performing Animal Welfare Society (PAWS) in California is willing to take her. There, she could roam on 80 acres of rolling hills, with a therapy pool, lake, and six other elephants.


Sign a petition to Seattle’s mayor asking that Watoto be retired to a sanctuary: 

Even better, please ALSO email/tweet the Mayor, City Council and Zoo management. Say as much or as little (“Retire Watoto to a sanctuary.”) as you like.


Tweet: @Mayor_Ed_Murray   @SeattleCouncil   @woodlandparkzoo

Also, save the date:  Oct. 4th from noon to 2pm.  Friends of Woodland Park Zoo Elephants is one of the sponsors of the Global March for Elephants and Rhinos. Details coming. 

Come on. Whatever time remains to her with warmth, freedom and companionship…and all you have to do is take a minute or two? Don’t even think of saying “Later”.

Update, August 22: If you are only reading about this now, it is too late for Watoto, who died today. “Too Late” is a pretty terrible thing. It means she never. ever. knew a grassy meadow, or bathed in a lake, or made decisions about where she wanted to go and with whom.  Not the world.  Just simple things that should be natural for everyone.  But she never had them, and now she never will.  Let’s make sure we never have to say that about Chai and Bamboo. You were going to write for Watoto; write for Chai and Bamboo:



Act now to help Watoto

Watoto is an elephant at Woodland Park Zoo. The Zoo is planning to send her to another impoverished zoo exhibit and she needs your help!

Ignoring science, the media and public opinion, the Zoo announced their plan to send Watoto to another zoo.

Watoto the elephant, caged and alone
Watoto suffers at Woodland Park Zoo and needs a sanctuary, not another subpar zoo.

1) Come to the July 14 City Council meeting

What: Seattle City Council meeting.
When: Monday, July 14th, 1:30pm
Where: Seattle City Hall at 600 4th Ave, Seattle, WA 98104.

Meet in front of City Hall on 4th Ave.

Free t-shirts will be provided with the message: Seattle Watoto Sanctuary

RSVP: Email Friends of Woodland Park Elephants letting them know if they should order a t-shirt for you.

2) Please email to ask that Watoto be sent to a sanctuary.

Write a polite email to the Seattle City Council and Mayor Ed Murray today. Simply say, “Send Watoto to a Sanctuary” or include these points:

  • A majority of citizens want the elephants retired to a sanctuary.
    Since the zoo is moving Watoto, we’re asking that the Zoo honor our values and send her to a sanctuary.
  • Woodland Park Zoo has received $100 million taxpayer dollars from the City and King County since 2002 making the welfare of Watoto all of our responsibility.
  • Twenty-seven zoos have closed or will close their elephant exhibits; let us join those progressive enlightened Zoos.

Addresses for your mail:;;;;;;;;;

Be assured we will never give up on Bamboo and Chai but Watoto needs your help NOW.

Please cross post widely and check out the Free Woodland Park Zoo Elephants site for more information.

Tony the Tiger STILL Languishing in Louisiana

 Some of you have probably already heard of Tony.  He is a Siberian-Bengal tiger who has spent the last 13 years in a crappy chainlink cage at a truck stop in Grosse Tete, Louisiana.                                                      Take just a moment to think of what you have done in the last 13 years.  Take another to think of what tigers would normally do in 13 years.                                                                                                                                           He hasn’t done anything.

Tony the tiger

Incredibly, the Louisiana Senate Bill 250 presently pending was specifically designed to allow Michael Sandlin, owner of the truck stop, to continue his miserable exhibition of Tony — this despite the fact that Tony’s captivity was declared illegal by a state court of appeal, AND despite the fact that Sandlin has repeatedly violated federal law by failing to provide adequate veterinary care and safe and sanitary housing and by handling that causes undue stress/ trauma. The Louisiana legislature should be ashamed of itself — but obviously isn’t — for creating a loophole to skirt its own state’s animal-protection laws.

SO…unless Governor Bobby Jindal vetoes the bill, Tony’s fate is sealed. It is URGENT, therefore, that we all contact the governor as quickly as possible, by phone (225-342-7015 or 866-366-1121),  fax (225-342-7099), by letter (P.O. Box 94004, Baton Rouge, Louisiana 70804-9004), or by email (,  to ask him to VETO SB 250.  I have listed these in order of importance, although of course best of all is to do ALL OF THEM.

It is bad enough that Tony has had to languish in appalling conditions on reeking cement for 13 years; it would be heartbreaking to know that for lack of effort, he would never know anything else.  For however much time he has left, he should know grass, water, running, climbing trees, and being able to make simple decisions about his own life.  Please … do it now: ask Governor Jindal to veto SB250.

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