Tag Archives: friends of Woodland Park Zoo elephants

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!

RIP Watoto – Vigil at noon on Saturday, August 23rd‏

Today is a very sad day.  Watoto was euthanized.
She died without ever having had a good day.

You may have heard that Watoto, the African elephant that so many people were fighting for, lost her life today. Watoto was discovered lying down unable to right herself when the keepers arrived this morning.  The Zoo’s staff decided to euthanize her after being unable to raise her.

Please join in a vigil/peaceful demonstration at the street entrance to Woodland Park Zoo’s south entrance tomorrow, Saturday at noon.

What:  Vigil for beautiful Watoto
When: Saturday, August 23rd, 2014 at noon
Where: Street entrance to the Zoo’s south entrance at N. 50th and Fremont Ave. N.

     

Watoto was only 45 years. In the wild, she would have been in the prime of her life; still bearing calves. Confinement in a zoo takes a devastating physical and psychological toll on these far-ranging and intelligent animals. The zoo industry’s own statistics show that elephants die young.

Woodland Park Zoo denied Watoto of one her greatest needs–companionship of her own kind. After being ripped from her mother in Africa as a baby, Watoto never set eyes on another African elephant. The zoo also denied Watoto the opportunity to spend her remaining years in a sanctuary.

Watoto suffered from a host of chronic captivity related diseases as a result of living her entire life in the cramped quarters of Woodland Park.

Woodland Park Zoo is an exceptionally poor environment. The elephants are locked outdoors in less than 1 acre.  Indoors, the elephants are locked in barren cages, standing on hard substrate and only able to walk a few steps in any direction. This lockup, due to our climate, lasts 16-17 hours a day, every day, for over half of the year. Scientific American describes this as: “tortuous conditions [which] inflict serious physical and psychological damage on such smart and sensitive animals.”

We hope that Watoto’s suffering and death will not be in vain. We are very grateful for Seattle’s Mayor Murray’s statement. We need him to go farther: Bamboo and Chai need to retire to a sanctuary. Click here to read the Mayor’s statement.

Please write to ask the Mayor and the City Council to order the zoo to release Bamboo and Chai to a sanctuary. They have the authority.

Email: Ed.murray@seattle.gov,
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,
Deborah.jensen@zoo.org,
Bruce.Bohmke@zoo.org,
Darin.Collins@zoo.org,
nancy.hawkes@zoo.org,
zooinfo@zoo.org

Please call the Mayor anytime on Wednesday, the 27th.  Ask the Mayor to withhold funds from Woodland Park Zoo until the elephants are released to a sanctuary. 206-684-4000

Rest in peace, Watoto.

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: Ed.murray@seattle.gov; 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

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.

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

Speak up for the Woodland Park Zoo elephants

FOWPZE

Woodland Park Zoo has their hand out again for money from tax payers – in fact they’re listed first on the list to get money in the Parks Legacy Plan. The City needs to know that there are many of us who don’t want more funding to go to the zoo.

Here’s why:

  • The zoo already gets $6.6 million dollars annually–and the amount goes up every year. Last year Seattle taxpayers paid  the zoo an additional $2 million for parking!
  • We do not consider this business a park.
  • No other park has admission.
  • No other park has a Board of Directors dedicated to fund raising.
  • The zoo could save $787,000.00 by closing the archaic and inadequate elephant exhibit by retiring the elephants to a sanctuary. They could also save the cost of fighting media and citizen criticism of the elephant program that has mounted to at least $480,000.00 over the past 7 years.
  • No other park has such public controversy associated with it’s operations. The zoo’s elephant program has been criticized by The Seattle Times, The Ron and Don Show (the #1 rated talk radio show), The Seattle PI, Crosscut, blogs, internationally renowned elephant experts and Friends of Woodland Park Zoo Elephants.

Please go one of these meetings and give public comment or simply say why you’re there on the sign-in sheet. We’d like to your thoughts if you attend. Here are the dates and times of the meetings:

Thursday, January 23 at 6 p.m. – International District/Chinatown Community Center 719 8th Ave. S
Saturday, January 25 at 1 p.m. – High Point Community Center 6920 34th Ave. SW (Free childcare will be provided)
Thursday, January 30 at 7 p.m. – Bitter Lake Community Center 13035 Linden Ave. N

More info on the Parks Legacy Plan is here.

Also, please write a short and courteous email to the following people asking Woodland Park Zoo to be removed from the Parks Legacy Plan. It can be as simple as: “Please remove Woodland Park Zoo from the Parks Legacy Plan. The Zoo receives enough tax dollars.”

parkslegacy@seattle.gov, Sally.Bagshaw@seattle.gov, Tim.Burgess@seattle.gov, Sally.Clark@seattle.gov, Jean.Godden@seattle.gov, Bruce.Harrell@seattle.gov, Nick.Licata@seattle.gov, Tom.Rasmussen@seattle.gov, Mike.OBrien@seattle.govKshama.Sawant@seattle.gov, Ed.murray@seattle.gov

Thanks for your help. We couldn’t help the elephants without you!

Have your say about the Seattle Parks zoo assignment

Woodland Park Zoo Elephant logo

Very soon, a new Seattle City Council Chair of Parks will be selected. The Parks Chair oversees Woodland Park Zoo. Bamboo, Chai and Watoto are the three elephants who have lived 45, 33 and 43 years, respectively, on display at the Zoo. They need a council member who is concerned about their welfare to be the next Parks Chair.

Please ask Sally Clark (City Council President), Ed Murray (the Mayor-elect) and the other City Council members to choose a City Council member who will work with the Zoo to retire the elephants to a sanctuary in a warmer climate with hundreds of acres to roam.

Contacts:
mayoraltransition@seattle.gov
Sally.Clark@seattle.gov
Sally.Bagshaw@seattle.gov
Tim.Burgess@seattle.gov
Richard.Conlin@seattle.gov
Bruce.Harrell@seattle.gov
Nick.Licata@seattle.gov
Tom.Rasmussen@seattle.gov
Mike.OBrien@seattle.gov

What you might want to know:

The Zoo-appointed Task Force’s recommendations should not be used to determine the elephants’ fate. Their bias was clear, with 5 out of the 14 being current or former Zoo Board members and many others having a clear conflict of interest. The Zoo Board will make their decision about Bamboo, Chai and Watoto’s future early next year.

Friends of WPZ Elephants commissioned a survey using Research Now, an independent research company. The findings debunk the Zoo’s cherished catchphrase and the Task Force’s justification for keeping the elephants: That seeing an elephant will inspire people “to learn, care and act to help conserve elephants and their habitats in the wild.”

NOT SO—NOT EVEN CLOSE:

  • 97% of survey respondents knew about elephant poaching for their ivory. They learned about this crisis from print and media—not from Woodland Park Zoo.
  • 88% of people who saw the elephants at the Zoo didn’t change to whom they donate or products that they buy.

Our wet and cold climate is wrong for elephants. It forces Bamboo, Chai and Watoto to be locked up in a tiny, barren stall for 16 to 17 hours a day for over half of the year. It’s like you being locked up in a broom closet.
Watoto in a box

Please write a polite email asking for the new Parks Chair to be someone who will work with Woodland Park Zoo to retire Bamboo, Chai and Watoto to a sanctuary so they may have a humane quality of life.

Thanks so much,
Nancy Pennington and Alyne Fortgang
Co-founder, Friends of Woodland Park Zoo Elephants
A NARN Campaign
206-595-7770

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Spaceless in Seattle — heartbreak at Woodland Park Zoo

Vote NO for the Zoo Levy

If you live in King County, you should have received your ballots and voter’s guide for the upcoming primary and special election on August 6. Among the city council, mayor, and other public official positions up for your vote, there are a few measures on the ballot. One that deserves some special consideration is King County Proposition No. 1, which we at the NARN board encourage you to vote NO.

vote-cartoon1

Proposition 1 is a levy meant to provide funding for King County-operated parks  and recreational facilities. It also provides 7% of the levy collection to be earmarked for the Woodland Park Zoological Society. According to the figures provided by King County, they estimate that $4.2 million per year would support the Woodland Park Zoo. Using the last budget figures provided by the Zoo – a projected operating cost of $32.9 million — the levy would contribute roughly 1/8 of its budget.

Now, anyone familiar with our Friends of the Woodland Park Zoo Elephants campaign, or have seen the critical Seattle Times expose of the Zoo, knows that the zoo has stubbornly refused to release their elephants to a sanctuary when all evidence has pointed to the fact that the Zoo is incapable of providing the basic necessities for elephants.

While any visit to any zoo will feature a vast array of bored, lonely, listless animals cooped up for the entertainment of people, elephants like Bamboo, Chai, and Watoto at the WPZ pose particular problems that zoos aren’t able to address. Elephants are very social creatures, forming life-time bonds with parents, offspring, friends, relatives in the wild, but are separated when they are captured in the wild or taken from their families as babies when born in captivity; they require the space that only freedom provides, sometimes walking as many as 50 miles a day, with home ranges in the hundreds of square miles. Zoos are cramped and lonely places for them, with indoor facilities measured in feet, not miles, and an outdoor range of one half to three acres. And owing to the cold and wet climates of much of the US (including here in the Pacific Northwest), compared to the hot and dry climates of their habitat in Asia and Africa, this means that elephants like the ones in Woodland Park spend a majority of their time indoors.

Zoos will do just about anything to avoid having to admit that they may not be able to adequately care for an animal, and Woodland Park Zoo is no exception. Despite the increased public concern that the WPZ is not the right place for elephants, they steadfastly refuse to budge on the issue. They, like any other zoo, do not want to admit that any information that comes out about the conditions can actually force a zoo to release an animal to a sanctuary. That is why they continually whitewash the obvious concerns, and why the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), the governing body of the zoo industry, refuses to acknowledge the existence of a natural-habitat refuge like the Elephant Sanctuary of Hohenwald, Tennesee. To do so would be a fatal admission that an animal would be healthier and happier while living elsewhere.

While zoos insist their main focus is education and conservation, animals on display merely serve as profit-making attractions; their “conservation” programs arguably serves to actually diminish the population of animals in the wild, as fertile females are taken from their natural habitat to provide baby animals for zoos which attract more paying visitors. And even their captive breeding programs are largely unsuccessful; Chai of the Woodland Park Zoo, for example, has undergone 112 attempts to forcibly impregnate her, even against recommendations to not do so since she has the elephant herpes virus. She has had numerous miscarriages, and her last birth, a female elephant named Hansa, died at the age of 6 in 2007 of the herpes virus that was passed onto her.

While claims are made by zoos like Woodland Park of the value of their education and conservation programs, a study funded by the AZA  “Why Zoos and Aquariums Matter: Assessing the Impact of a Visit to a Zoo or Aquarium,” reports that there was no statistically significant change in “overall knowledge”. Instead, social scientists found that zoo visits actually “reinforced” and “supported” the pre-existing attitude and values of guests. (1) Their claims of “conservation” is meaningless as animals bred in zoos are never released, and will never be released, to replenish the ones lost in the wild, and animals in captivity have up to half the life expectancy of those in their natural habitats.

Zoos like the Woodland Park Zoo are poor investments of public money, so you can show your disapproval by voting NO for King County Proposition 1. Obviously a concern about this levy is its primary funding for the county-operated parks and other outdoor areas, and it is hard to vote against the continued maintenance of our valuable green space–particularly since such levies are now the primary source of funding for the King County parks and recreation division; the King County general fund support for that division was eliminated as of 2011. This levy is meant to continue funding after the expiration of the 2008-2013 voter-approved operations and maintenance levy, of which approximately 70% of the operating budget of the parks was provided.

Parks levies enjoy popular support–each one regarding park operations and maintenance (from both King County and Seattle) brought to the voters have passed. The last levy proposed by King County in 2007, Proposition No. 2 – Open Space, Regional Trails, and Woodland Park Zoo levy, passed 59-41%. With such popular support, this levy stands a very high probability of passing, but through your vote of NO, the margin of support will diminish, and we can then demonstrate the public concern about using our money to fund failed education and conservation programs of the Woodland Park Zoo. In the unlikely event of this levy failing to pass, we can as citizens of King County then provide that as proof of our unwillingness of using public funds for the Zoo, and we can demand instead a levy for the parks that does not provide allocations to the Zoo.

Don’t forget to mail in your ballet by August 6, and to vote NO on King County Proposition No. 1. Thank you.

(1) “Why Zoos and Aquariums Matter: Assessing the Impact of a Visit to a Zoo or Aquarium,” (Falk, Rienhard, Vernon, Bronnenkant, et al., 2007, p. 10).

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