The Woodland Park Zoo announced plans today to close its elephant program and send its two female Asian elephants, Chai, 35 and Bamboo, 47 to another zoo in 2015.
“We remain committed to putting the welfare of our elephants first. After several months of working to implement the recommendations of the Elephant Task Force, we have found that adding to the herd of our two aging elephants is not realistic in the foreseeable future. It is in the best interest of Bamboo and Chai to live in a social, multi-animal herd in a healthy environment,” said Woodland Park Zoo’s President and CEO Dr. Deborah Jensen. “This can best be accomplished by relocating them to another accredited Association of Zoos & Aquariums facility that is held to exemplary standards of care. Having only one or two elephants at the zoo for the long term would work against the broader social welfare of Chai and Bamboo and we are committed to following the recommendations of elephant health and welfare experts.”
Alyne Fortgang, co-founder of Friends of Woodland Park Zoo Elephants, commends the zoo for acknowledging their elephant exhibit is inadequate and that the Seattle climate is unsuitable for elephants however, “Its time for them to find peace in a sanctuary.”
Fortgang and others have been advocating to send the elephants to a sanctuary for over ten years, most recently at a Seattle city council meeting in October.
Last summer, Watoto, a 45-year-old African female elephant, was found lying in a yard and later euthanized. A pathology report revealed she had severe joint disease.