Northwest Voices | Letters to the Editor
Elephants struggling in zoo industry
Captive elephants should be retired
Kudos to The Seattle Times for publishing Michael J. Berens’ special report about elephants in captivity [“Glamour Beasts: The dark side of captivity,” page one, Dec. 2, Dec. 3 and Dec. 4].
This scathing investigative reporting is as big as the elephants themselves in exposing the brutal truth about zoos and their “glamour beasts.” It reveals how zoos cannot and should not continue to house, breed and exhibit these gentle giants who need room to roam.
I was shocked to read that The National Elephant Center, under construction, will be run by the zoo industry and used to house and breed elephants for zoos.
Our own three elephants here at Woodland Park Zoo, Chai, Bamboo and Watoto, are prisoners and living miserably in very small quarters. Further disgrace has taken place with Chai's repeated insemination comparable to rape and with the death of her baby Hansa, doomed when she was only six years old.
I am hoping that Berens’ excellent report will spur our Woodland Park Zoo officials and its board of directors to close their elephant exhibit. Our elephants have paid their dues and need to retire on the vast hills of a true sanctuary where no breeding would ever take place again.
Thank you again for journalism at its best: precise, informative and sensitive. I also hear the captive elephants in zoos rumbling their satisfaction.
—Claudine Erlandson, Shoreline
Woodland Park Zoo is world-class
The Woodland Park Zoo is one of the finest zoos in the nation and elephants play an important role as ambassadors for their species. Elephants are disappearing in the wild at an alarming rate. They are continually faced with poaching for ivory and habitat loss.
Not all of us can travel to Africa or Asia to actually see elephants in the wild. Pictures and videos are nice but they can’t duplicate the experience of seeing, smelling and hearing elephants as we can at the zoo.
I have been a zoo volunteer for 10 years. I spend a lot of time around the elephants and witness the dedicated and outstanding keeper care they receive. I have never seen abuse or mistreatment of the elephants or any of the other animals. I would not volunteer if I felt the animals were mistreated or abused. We are fortunate to have such a world-class zoo right in the city of Seattle.
The plight of the elephants in the wild is the real issue. We should be focusing on that.
—Katherine L. Johnson, Seattle