Rights group files complaint over Woodland Park Zoo elephant breeding
An animal defense group has filed a complaint against Woodland Park Zoo's elephant breeding program.
Seattle Times staff reporter
An animal rights organization, In Defense of Animals (IDA), has filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Agriculture charging that Woodland Park Zoo's elephant breeding program violates the federal Animal Welfare Act.
The complaint, filed Wednesday, comes after the zoo announced it had artificially inseminated its elephant Chai.
"It is grossly irresponsible for the Woodland Park Zoo to continue breeding elephants, knowing that any infant born there faces a high risk of disease and death," said Catherine Doyle, IDA campaign director, in a release. "IDA is calling on the USDA to stop the reckless breeding of elephants in herpes-affected zoos."
Chai — whose popular 6-year-old calf, Hansa, died in 2007 from an elephant herpes virus — was inseminated last Wednesday and again on Thursday after she showed signs of ovulating, said Nancy Hawkes, the zoo's general curator. Chai was artificially inseminated after Hansa's death and miscarried in 2008.
Chai is one of three female elephants living in the zoo's 1-acre enclosure. Controversy has swirled for years about the elephants' lack of space and their living conditions in captivity. After Hansa's death, animal advocates called for the zoo to stop breeding elephants.
But zoo officials said last week they remain committed.
"We want to continue to have elephants on the planet and at Woodland Park Zoo," Hawkes said. "They are incredible ambassadors for conservation."
The IDA also filed complaints against elephant breeding at three other zoos, the Houston Zoo, the St. Louis Zoo and the Oklahoma City Zoo.
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