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