It is with profound sadness that I report that Chai and Bamboo were loaded onto a truck around 6 PM last night to begin their grueling trip to another impoverished existence in the Oklahoma City Zoo. This marks the end of many tragic chapters in their lives, and begins another.
As many of you know, we fought a tireless nine-year battle to persuade Woodland Park Zoo to retire Bamboo, Chai, Watoto and Sri to a sanctuary and permanently end the exhibition of elephants.
After we lost Watoto to conditions directly caused by her captivity, Woodland Park Zoo announced they would join other progressive zoos in closing their elephant exhibit—we were hopeful. Unfortunately, Woodland Park Zoo remained intransigent throughout, incapable of considering any point of view different from zoo-industry approved opinion; the leadership entrenched in the industry’s selfish self-interest.
Our efforts were based on best science, independent expert opinion, and the community’s values. Our elephants’ cause inspired broad support from the enlightened Seattle region, people around the world and powerful media voices, especially The Seattle Times. It was the Seattle Times’ scathing front page investigation that cracked the door open to help people understand the suffering these intelligent, far-ranging animals endure when displayed in a tiny, boring, unchanging space—for life.
Sadly, our elected officials failed to champion the conscience of their constituents or make our elephants’ well-being a concern of theirs.
The heartbreaking saga of Chai and Bamboo’s pathetic lives in the American Zoo World continues. And so today, we are diminished as human beings.
Nancy Pennington and Alyne Fortgang
Co-founders, Friends of Woodland Park Zoo Elephants