Woodland Park Zoo sued over elephant records

FOWPZEAlyne Fortgang, co-founder of Friends of Woodland Park Zoo Elephants, recently filed a lawsuit against the Woodland Park Zoo.

The suit asks the Court to declare that Woodland Park Zoo is acting as a “hybrid” pubic agency and, as such, should be subject to Washington State’s Public Disclosure Laws. This means the Zoo would have to tell us how they spend the millions of tax payer dollars we give them AND answer our questions about Bamboo, Chai and Watoto’s quality of life.

Over the past 7 years FWPZE has filed many Public Disclosure Requests with the Zoo.  The zoo has repeatedly refused to share important information about the welfare of the three elephants living there.

Woodland Park Zoo claims it isn’t subject to public disclosure requests. However, the Zoo’s operations are funded with $10.4 million taxpayer dollars and uses city-owned buildings and land at no cost.”

“Woodland Park Zoo can’t have it both ways; if it chooses to take our generous tax dollars, then it must be held accountable on how it spends our money,” said Fortgang. “I am simply asking that the Zoo be transparent with tax payers, which is why public records laws exist.”

Action:

While the suite is underway, please write a polite email asking for Bamboo, Chai and Watoto be retired to a sanctuary immediately.

Here are addresses for the Seattle City Council, King County Council and zoo management and Board. If you’ve already written, please write again and please cross post.Ed.murray@seattle.gov, Jean.Godden@seattle.gov, Sally.Bagshaw@seattle.gov, Tim.Burgess@seattle.gov, Sally.Clark@seattle.govBruce.Harrell@seattle.gov, Nick.Licata@seattle.gov, Tom.Rasmussen@seattle.gov, Mike.OBrien@seattle.gov, Kshama.Sawant@seattle.gov, larry.gossett@kingcounty.gov, kathy.lambert@kingcounty.gov, larry.phillips@kingcounty.gov, julia.patterson@kingcounty.gov,  jane.hague@kingcounty.gov, pete.vonreichbauer@kingcounty.gov, joe.mcdermott@kingcounty.gov, rod.dembowski@kingcounty.gov, reagan.dunn@kingcounty.gov, dow.constantine@kingcounty.gov,Deborah.jensen@zoo.org, Darin.Collins@zoo.org, zooinfo@zoo.org
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Come to the Pints for Pigs event

pints for pigsI’m happy to announce that there’s another animal fundraiser social event in the future. NARN is organizing a benefit for Pigs Peace Sanctuary. Tickets are still available–but they’re selling fast.

Pints for Pigs Peace is a pig-themed afternoon of fun at Central Cinema. There will be beer, movies, vegan food, brew-themed drawing prizes, and other treats. The cinema will be playing Babe, you know, the sweet, mid-90s movie about a little pig. And they’ll also show a heartwarming documentary about the important work at Pigs Peace Sanctuary.

This will be a fun event for beer lovers, wine lovers, and of course, animal lovers! Unlike the wine tasting, this event is all ages. You’ll be able to buy vegan food too, including Central Cinema’s vegan “pig in a blanket” and vegan pizza.

Tickets make great stocking stuffers too!

When: January 11th, 2014 from 2:00 to 5:00 pm
Where: Central Cinema (1411 21st Avenue, Seattle, WA 98122)
Cost: $20 (Get your tickets here)

Check out Facebook to see the event info (but don’t forget your tickets).

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Ellensburg’s Chimpanzees Arrive Safely in Canada

After the deaths of Moja in 2002, Washoe in 2007 and Dar last year, the only two chimpanzees remaining at the Chimpanzee and Human Communication Institute (CHCI) at Central Washington University in Ellensburg were Tatu and Loulis. Because chimpanzees naturally live in large groups, the decision was made to move them to the 200-acre FAUNA sanctuary in Quebec, which is already home to 11 other chimpanzees. Lightly sedated, they flew out of Seatac on a nonstop flight to Canada on the 28th. Tatu and Loulis, who use American Sign Language, will gradually be introduced to and integrated with the other chimpanzees there.

If you have never read Roger Fouts’ book, Next of Kin, about Washoe and her family, get a copy now. It’s kind of a life-changer.

 

 

 

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Ask the NIRC to Retire ALL Chimps

From https://secure3.convio.net/neavs/site/Advocacy?cmd=display&page=UserAction&id=227

NIRC: Retire Privately Owned Chimpanzees Now

Despite the National Institutes of Health retiring all the federally owned chimpanzees at the New Iberia Research Center (NIRC) in New Iberia, Louisiana, the lab still houses a large number of privately owned chimpanzees who they have not yet scheduled for retirement. NIRC and other labs are fighting to hold on to the millions in funding they have received for decades to simply house and maintain chimpanzees – even though their actual use in research was rapidly dwindling or nonexistent.

Please write to University of Louisiana at Lafayette President Dr. Joseph Savoie and ask him to retire all privately owned NIRC chimpanzees (UL Lafayette operates NIRC).

**Send your letter from this link: From https://secure3.convio.net/neavs/site/Advocacy?cmd=display&page=UserAction&id=227

Recipients

  • Joseph Savoie, EdD

Message

NIRC: Retire Privately Owned Chimpanzees Now

Dear [Decision Maker],

It’s time to close the chimpanzee program at the New Iberia Research Center (NIRC). The National Institutes of Health (NIH) is retiring approximately 90% of its federally owned chimpanzees, which includes more than 100 federally owned chimpanzees from NIRC. But according to data from a 2011 Institute of Medicine (IOM) report, there will remain more than 200 privately owned chimpanzees at your lab.









Dr. Savoie, I am appealing to you to take the lead and commit your institution to modern and compassionate science in all its endeavors. This can and must start by closing the chimpanzee program at NIRC and releasing all your chimpanzees to sanctuary today!Sincerely,
[Your Name]
[Your Address]
[City, State ZIP]

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Jungle Party Demonstration for Bamboo, Chai and Watoto

Friends of Woodland Park Zoo Elephants is joining IDA (In Defense of Animals) for this year’s Jungle Party Demonstration for Bamboo, Chai and Watoto, the three elephants on display at the Woodland Park Zoo. Jungle Party is the zoo’s largest fundraiser and Friends of Woodland Park Zoo Elephants will be present to make the donors aware of the elephants’ pathetic lives.

What: Rally for Bamboo, Chai and Watoto
When: 4pm – 6:30 pm; Friday, July 12, 2013. Come for all or part of the time.
Where: Woodland Park Zoo’s WEST entrance (on Phinney Ave N. at N. 55th, Seattle, WA  98103)

Friends of Woodland Park Zoo Elephants and IDA will also be protesting the composition of the task force that the zoo formed after years of criticism over the elephant program, the two scathing Seattle Times reports and subsequent two editorials calling for Bamboo, Chai and Watoto’s retirement to a sanctuary. The zoo is concerned about its image and the task force is about damage control, not looking after the elephants’ best interests.

Woodland Park Zoo chose all members of the task force, most of whom are financially and personally invested in the zoo. There are the five current or past zoo board members on the force—a clear conflict of interest. Dr. Slinker, a zoo board and task force member, chose the health panel. He co-authored an op-ed in The Seattle Times in which he said the elephants don’t have foot problems (which they do) and should stay at the zoo.

This task force is all about assuaging donors not Bamboo, Chai and Watoto’s welfare.  It clearly shows the zoo is concerned about their insistence on keeping elephants in their tiny display.

Also: Please come to all or part of the next task force meeting on Monday, July 22nd from 4pm – 7pm or 8pm (to be announced). It will be at the Seattle downtown library at 1000 Fourth Ave., Seattle, WA 98104-1109 206-386-4636

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“Do what’s best for the elephants”

Yesterday, The Seattle Times published an editorial opinion piece by David Hancocks, former director of Woodland Park Zoo. His message: Elephants at the zoo are suffering. These complex social creatures cannot have even their basic needs met in a zoo environment.

Thanks to The Seattle Times and letters from the people of Seattle, the plight of Watoto, Chai, and Bamboo is getting attention from decision-makers.

Watoto the elephant pacing in a cage

Unlike their wild counterparts, elephants in captivity do not thrive. Their lifespans are shorter, their natural social bonds are severed, and they are deprived of the enriched environments they need to keep physically and psychologically well.

Elephants are active animals and travel miles and miles every day. In Woodland Park zoo, they have a measly acre to pace in—when they’re let outside.

The elephants at Woodland Park Zoo deserve to be released to a sanctuary. The wheels are in motion. Public opinion is changing and people are siding with the elephants. It’s time, in the words of Mr. Hancocks, to “do what’s best for the elephants.”

Please write to the zoo at:

Woodland Park Zoo, 601 N. 59th Street, Seattle, WA  98103
Email: woodlandparkzoopr@zoo.org and zooinfo@zoo.org

Address letters to:

  • Dr. Deborah B. Jensen, President and CEO
  • Bruce Bohmke, Chief Operations Officer
  • Jamie Creola, VIce President of Education
  • Dr. Darin Collins, Director of Animal Health
  • Dr. Nancy Hawkes, General Curator
  • Valerie Krueger, Director of Finance
  • David Schaefer, Director of Communications & Public Affairs
  • Gigi Allianic, Media and Public Relations

Also please write the mayor, your city council member, and especially Sally Bagshaw the Parks Committee Chair.

Mike McGinn, Mayor
mike.mcginn@seattle.gov, 206-684-4000

Sally Bagshaw, Seattle City Council, Parks Committee Chair
sally.bagshaw@seattle.gov, 206-684-8801

Richard Conlin, Seattle City Council, Council President
richard.conlin@seattle.gov, 206-684-8805

Sally J. Clark, Seattle City Council
sally.clark@seattle.gov, 206-684-8802

Nick Licata, Seattle City Council
nick.licata@seattle.gov, 206-684-8803

Bruce Harrell, Seattle City Council
bruce.harrell@seattle.gov, 206-684-8804

Tim Burgess, Seattle City Council
tim.burgess@seattle.gov, 206-684-8806

Jean Godden, Seattle City Council
jean.godden@seattle.gov, 206-684-8807

Tom Rasmussen, Seattle City Council
tom.rasmussen@seattle.gov, 206-684-8808

Mike O’Brien, Seattle City Council
mike.obrien@seattle.gov, 206-684-8800

Deborah Jensen, Woodland Park Zoo President
deborah.jensen@zoo.org, 206-548-2416

Or send a letter to each of the above council members at the following address:
[Name of Councilmember]
Seattle City Hall
P.O. Box 34025
Seattle, WA 98124-4025

Or fax them at 206-684-8587.

You can learn more about the elephants at the zoo and the efforts to release them to a sanctuary, at Friends of Woodland Park Zoo Elephants.

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Time for the Elephants at Woodland Park Zoo

After years of diligent work, the Friends of the Woodland Park Zoo Elephants have still not gotten the zoo to even consider releasing Bamboo, Chai and Watoto to a sanctuary – making it clear that the zoo leadership cares more about revenue than the lives of the elephants themselves.

Elephants are genetically wired to spend up to 20 hours a day roaming across hundreds of miles. At Woodland Park Zoo (WPZ) the elephants must share less than a single acre of outdoor space. Depriving Bamboo, Chai and Watoto of adequate space causes them serious mental and physical harm.

In the wild elephants live in tropical and subtropical regions. Seattle’s cold climate forces the elephants indoors for an unacceptable amount of their lives. Bamboo, Chai and Watoto are locked in small barn stalls, barely able to move, for 16 to 17 hours a day for nearly 7 months of the year.

The elephants suffer from painful arthritis and bouts of colic. Chai and Bamboo endure chronic foot infections—the leading cause of death in zoo elephants—caused by lack of space. A complex social life, critical to elephants’ well being, is denied them and Watoto, the lone African elephant, is frequently kept in solitary confinement. All three elephants display neurotic repetitive behavior caused by high levels of stress and boredom—including pacing, swaying, and head bobbing.

Watoto indoors

Finally someone else has taken notice: The Seattle Times has published a story about the lives that these beautiful creatures face behind our bars: http://seattletimes.com/elephants. The article focuses on the horrific attempts for zoos to create more baby elephants, because they create such huge draws of patrons. More than 100 artificial insemination for the two girls. It also shares how zoos “train” these wild creatures.   Please read the piece and share this story with your friend and family who still support zoos so they can understand the cruelty behind their summer visits. Make sure that you and your family all write letters to the zoo asking them to release the elephants and put the elephants lives ahead of profit.

Now is this time. With this very public article,  the tragedy of captive elephants is revealed, but the zoo must hear from us too. They must become stewards of compassion for animals. Please:

Write to:  Woodland Park Zoo, 601 N. 59th Street, Seattle, WA  98103

Email: woodlandparkzoopr@zoo.org and zooinfo@zoo.org

Address letters to:
Dr. Deborah B. Jensen, President and CEO
Bruce Bohmke, Chief Operations Officer
Jamie Creola, VIce President of Education
Dr. Darin Collins, Director of Animal Health
Dr. Nancy Hawkes, General Curator
Valerie Krueger, Director of Finance
David Schaefer, Director of Communications & Public Affairs
Gigi Allianic, Media and Public Relations

Thank you for taking time out of your weekend to make a difference!

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From Pig Farm to Pig Sanctuary: One Farmer’s Story

(originally published in the Taipei Times)

Lo Hung-hsien feeds his pigs at his farm in New Taipei City

A hog farmer from New Taipei City’s Linkou District has transformed his farm into a real-life “piggy paradise” where pigs are not raised for meat, after he was struck by the woeful eyes of a piglet which was going to be slaughtered.

“Animals are our friends, not our food,” said 34-year-old Lo Hung-hsien, the owner of the pig sanctuary, who is also a vegetarianism advocate and a part-time volunteer.

In an effort to cover the huge overhead costs of managing the non-profitable ranch, Lo holds down multiple jobs, including working as a cargo driver, setting up temporary stalls at night markets and running an online business selling dumplings. Aside from his salaried jobs, Lo also squeezes in time for his advocacy work to promote the benefits of a vegetarian diet, volunteer at schools and give free speeches at the Tzu Chi Foundation.

Exhausting all his hard-earned money on raising his family and “piggy friends,” Lo said that despite all the criticism he has received for his decision to change how the farm was managed, he will still hold on to his beliefs even if it left him penniless.

Before his change of heart, Lo said that he had been a profit-driven pig farmer who inherited his family’s large-scale, lucrative farming business from his grandfather. Lo said that at the business’ peak, his farm could accommodate 500 pigs and raked in substantial revenue that was far more than he could spend.

Recalling the moment that transformed him from a moneymaking pig farmer to a vegetarian who regarded his farm animals as close companions, Lo said it was a piglet that was about to be butchered that changed his perception of pig farming. Lo said that at the time, a staff member from a slaughterhouse had gone to his farm to single out a few hogs, prompting the terrified animals to start wailing.

“Except for one piglet, which abruptly quieted down when I took it in my hands and then it looked me right in the eyes, as if saying: ‘How could you do this to me?’ That look in its eyes shattered me and kept me awake all night,” Lo said. “It was then that I resolved to convert to vegetarianism and cut off cooperation with any butcheries,” he said.

Over the past few years, only forty out of the hundreds of hogs survive, while the rest have succumbed to old age or disease, but Lo still spares no effort in attending to his pig companions. Lo starts his day at 4am each morning, driving to a number of vegetarian restaurants to collect their leftovers, which are first cooked before being fed to his treasured pets. Afterward, Lo cleans up the pigpens and washes and plays with the hogs attentively, as if they were his children.

He has also sprayed the slogan “animals are our friends, not our food” on his truck because he wants to spread the seeds of his beliefs wherever he goes.

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Work Party to Precious Life Animal Sanctuary

On Saturday August 29, a group of about 15 people who love animals took a trip to the Precious Life Animal Sanctuary in Sequim, Washington.  The Sanctuary, which is run by two dedicated animal lovers, Ralph and Caryl Turner, is the happy forever home to many animals.  The group of volunteers included families with children, a few dogs who enjoyed a day on the farm, and many hard-working folks who enjoyed the fresh air and outdoor activity.

We made sure the barn for the sanctuary’s only pig was clean and prepared with fresh hay. The kids and adults played with the newly rescued “baby” cow, who is already bigger than he thinks he is and when he rubs the top of his head on the legs of the volunteers, some of us had trouble staying on our feet!  But he was playful and gentle and clearly loved the attention.  We fed carrots and apples to the group of horses and shaggy burros, many of whom first required the humans to earn their trust.  Once we did, the beautiful animals rewarded the humans with affection and they allowed us to rub the soft parts of their noses!

The treat of the day was reconnecting with the 90 rabbits who were rescued from Greenlake and Woodland Park by Carrie and Mark.  The rabbits have a fortress of security to protect them from other animals, and they safely and happily ran and played in the thistle and grass while the workers tidied up their space and left carrots for their later enjoyment.

Thanks to all the volunteers and to the hospitality of Ralph and Caryl who provided an abundant lunch to all the volunteers!

Precious Life is often looking for volunteers to come up for a day and NARN will likely host another volunteer work party soon.  More information on the sanctuary may be found here:

www.preciouslifeanimalsanctuary.org



















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