Image: Chai at the Woodland Park Zoo confined to a stall much of the year.
Bob Barker, legendary star of one of television’s longest running game shows, The Price is Right, is urging Seattle Mayor Ed Murray and City Council Members to intervene on behalf of Chai and Bamboo, elephants currently residing at the Woodland Park Zoo. Mr. Barker is joining Zoocheck in asking the council to stop the zoo from moving forward their plan to transfer the two elephants to the Oklahoma Zoo and enact a policy, effective immediately, which would ensure the animals are retired to a facility that can properly accommodate the biological and behavioral needs of the animals. Zoocheck consulted with lawyers in Seattle who have confirmed that the council has the legal authority to enact policies which place conditions on the disposition of animals from the zoo.
In January, Zoocheck provided a due diligence report to Seattle City Council Members which revealed that only the two sanctuaries accredited by the Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries can provide Chai and Bamboo facilities with acres to roam and grazing opportunities in a warm climate, factors critical to the good health and well being of elephants. Subsequently Mayor Ed Murray and five Council Members wrote to the Woodland Park Zoo director asking that the zoo only consider facilities that can meet these basic criteria. Zoo officials ignored the request from council and announced last Friday that they were planning to transfer the elephants to the Oklahoma Zoo and may even do it in March despite the cold weather which creates significant risk for moving elephants.
“When I heard about the plans to send Chai and Bamboo to the Oklahoma Zoo, I felt compelled to call the mayor personally and ask him to intervene on their behalf.” stated Bob Barker “Moving elephants in the winter is very dangerous, an elephant named Wankie died under the same conditions in 2005. Additionally, Oklahoma Zoo is located in a climate that is too cold in the winter for elephants and in the heart of tornado alley, and they also have loud rock concerts at an amphitheatre located right near the elephants. Sending them there would move them from a bad situation to a dreadful one. The entire plan is irresponsible and cruel.”
Mr. Barker, a life long animal advocate, has played an integral role in several elephant rescues, including working closely with Zoocheck to relocate three elephants from the Toronto Zoo and Maggie from the Alaska Zoo to the PAWS sanctuary in California, where they are now thriving. He wrote to Seattle City Council asking for elephants to be transferred prior to Watoto dying last year, but sadly the council waited too long to help Watoto.
“I applaud the Council Members who asked the zoo to do better for the elephants, but since the zoo has ignored their request, it is time for Seattle City Council to step in and ensure that Chai and Bamboo are not put at risk by a transfer to another zoo.” Barker said. “World renowned elephant experts have said the PAWS sanctuary in California is the closest thing in North America to an elephant’s natural habitat and many call it paradise for elephants. I hope the residents of Seattle will join me in contacting their Mayor and Council Members and ask them to intervene on behalf of the elephants and ensure they are retired to the sanctuary rather than a zoo that has no hope of ever meeting the needs of the animals.“