Friends, I need some help.
The Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle has 4 elephants. One African, and three Asian...one of the Asian elephants is named Bamboo- she's 38 I believe. Anyway- Bamboo has recently been exhibiting anti-social behavior- signs of stress and unhappiness. Because of her aggression towards the other elephants, the zoo felt it best to remove Bamboo from the Woodland Park Zoo.
There is a wonderful elephant sanctuary in Tennessee (www.elephants.com) that offered to take her- on their own dime. The zoo said no, that they would rather send her to Point Defiance Zoo in Tacoma. The PDZ is known for taking in "problem" elephants, elephants that zoos don't want anymore (for instance if an elephant has killed someone) Both zoos are part of the AZA (American Zoo Association) that has rigid rules for it's members (in some cases this is a good
thing) The AZA does not like to send it's animals elsewhere. In this case, I (and others in the group who want to see Bamboo at the Sanctuary) feel that politics is taking precedence over animal welfare.
Sanctuaries and zoos are often at odds. Zoos are trying drastically to keep a good public perception about themselves, and sanctuaries are able to point out where zoos fail. Both sides are liable to talk smack about the other. In this case- the WPZ' s answer to our inquiries is that Bamboo's new behavior is a "bad habit" and not an indication of stress. Most elephant experts refute this. Also, if it's just a "bad habit" why are they sending her away? And why won't they consider the possibility of the Sanctuary which has an amazing success rate with elephants, is certified in everything it needs to be, has numerous documentaries made about it as well as winning many awards, and will take Bamboo in so she can freely roam thousands of acres with a proper herd? Not to mention the Sanctuary never beats its animals- and unfortunately our zoos do in the name of discipline (remember when they got crap for beating 2 year old Hansa a few years back?)
They say it's because the Sanctuary is not AZA certified (it's not a zoo. It IS a fully licenced sanctuary subject to rules and regulations though) They (WPZ) also say that acreage is not a factor- that there is no evidence elephants need room to roam about. I think we can all pretty much call bullshit on that one. In both zoos- the elephants get one acre to share. Bamboo has had one acre to live in her entire life, and she has lived longer than many of us!
I am trying to quickly raise awareness about this subject before Bamboo gets moved to Tacoma over labor day. If you can help me, please write the zoo and express your concern- just drop em an email. You'll get a form letter back- but at least it's pressure. Secondly- if you have ANY ideas or press contacts please let me know. If you want more info, records of all the conversations I've had with both parties, let me know.
I'm sick of animals suffering for human agendas, and I'm sick of not being able to do anything about it.
send emails to : Bruce Bohmke
The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee: www.elephants.com
Woodland Park Zoo: www.zoo.org