Northwest Voices | Letters to the Editor
Conditions for zoo elephants
Celebration clouded by controversy
Have Trunk Will Travel would like to correct the inaccurate and inflammatory news reports that have led people to believe that we would take Rose-Tu’s calf from her [“Portland’s baby elephant belongs to traveling show,” page one, Dec. 4].
This unnecessary controversy has taken away from the joy and celebration of the birth of the beautiful, healthy elephant calf born to Rose-Tu and Tusko. The calf is being nursed and nurtured by her mother, that itself a great accomplishment.
We, along with our dedicated staff, care for our elephants every day. We donate our time and money for elephant causes we believe in, including partnering with zoos to enhance the propagation and survival of this endangered species.
We regret that misinformation has caused our partners and the public distress. The video being shown in connection to our company was at the heart of a lawsuit that was dismissed. It is a blatant attempt to malign our reputation. No legitimate animal-welfare agency or elephant-management group has given the video any credence.
This birth epitomizes what we work toward and what we care about. We look forward to meeting Samudra’s new little sister.
— Gary and Kari Johnson, Have Trunk Will Travel, Inc., Perris, Calif.
Understand the zoo’s motives
As a longtime member and frequent visitor of the Woodland Park Zoo, I am glad to see The Times putting attention on the situation regarding elephants in captivity [“Glamour beasts: The dark side of elephant captivity,” page one, Dec. 2, Dec. 3].
I can be forgiving of zoos in that much of the research proving the need for wide wandering space is recent, but the time has come for all zoos without the massive acreage needed to keep elephants happy and healthy to admit their detrimental effect on the animals they love, and out of that love send the animals to more accommodating sanctuaries. At the very least, I hope the Woodland Park Zoo will no longer seek additional elephants.
I also have a word to those who have advocated the release of elephants for so long: Consider your tone. For years I’ve read the text of court cases and accusatory statements regarding elephants in captivity from people who seem to believe that anyone in the zoo’s position is a greedy, selfish and cruel animal-hating monster who keeps elephants for no reason other than a desire to hurt and abuse them.
I can only imagine that if I’d been a zookeeper or administrator under the barrage of this rhetoric, I would have dug my heels in and resisted too. Who could blame them? Sometimes you have to consider the motives of people you disagree with in order to get them to do what you want, even when you’re on the right side.
—Tom Patton, Seattle