Northwest Voices | Letters to the Editor
Elephant crisis in America's zoos
All about the money
After reading Michael Berens’ “Glamour Beasts: The dark side of captivity,” [page one, Dec. 1-2] about the suffering of zoo elephants, how can anyone not be moved?
I have to conclude that Woodland Park Zoo officials are delusional in the face of hard data that show the failure rate of zoo breeding programs. The data do not capture the suffering of adult elephants who are subjected to endless attempts at artificial insemination.
It appears that this is all about money; it is hard for zoo officials to resist the fundraising opportunities that a baby elephant presents. The mayor and City Council members must ask hard questions when the zoo’s budget comes up for consideration and use the power of the purse to get zoo officials’ attention on this subject.
Seattle is known for its love of animals. We cannot continue with this cruel practice in our city.
—Nancy Dapper, Seattle
Let the elephants go
Thank you for the excellent and detailed article on zoo elephants. The facts don't lie. Clearly elephants in zoos are neither healthy nor happy. The system is abusive and unsustainable. The public wants to see healthy, happy animals housed in appropriate environments.
Woodland Park Zoo needs to let its elephants go to a sanctuary where they can get the exercise space and conditions they need. Chai has been the victim of long-term abusive treatment that has taken a huge psychological toll on her welfare.
Woodland Park Zoo needs to face the facts and let go of an expensive and failed effort to exhibit elephants in its inadequate environment. The Association of Zoos and Aquariums is clearly part of the problem.
Elephant keepers may love the animals, but the system is still broken. Woodland Park Zoo needs to focus on animals it can keep humanely and that the public can view in good conscience.
—Sharon Stroble, Seattle
I thought there was a law against cruelty to animals. The mistreatment of elephants at zoos — and at the Woodland Park Zoo in particular — is a clear case of cruelty. And that a veterinarian would lend himself to practically torture an elephant 112 times in order to produce a little one so that the zoo can make money is beyond the pale.
Woodland Park Zoo can be assured that I'll never go there and I'll make sure to tell my grandchildren how utterly sad the “life” of animals in captivity is.
Thank you for publishing this series.
—Arlette Claussen, Bellevue