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“Do what’s best for the elephants”

i Apr 9th No Comments by

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.

Time for the Elephants at Woodland Park Zoo

i Dec 1st Comments Off by

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!

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

i Jul 10th Comments Off by

(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.

Work Party to Precious Life Animal Sanctuary

i Sep 6th No Comments by

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