|Asian elephant Chai at Woodland Park Zoo. Photo by Ryan Hawk/Woodland Park Zoo.|
Woodland Park Zoo loves our elephants Chai and Bamboo, and we deeply mourn the loss of their herd mate, Watoto. Her recent death sent waves of grief through our community of staff, volunteers, members and guests. She was part of our family and will forever be honored in our memories.
Woodland Park Zoo’s elephant program continues to spark dialogue in our community. Productive dialogue has led to positive change, including the creation of the community-based Elephant Task Force, which concluded our elephants are in good physical and emotional health, and recommended some improvements to our program already underway.
Unfortunately, this dialogue is being colored by inflammatory campaigns from local and national activist groups and the media they garner. These campaigns rely on alarming sound bites that confuse and mislead well-intentioned people and mischaracterize the zoo as profit-driven and entertainment-focused. We are a conservation- and education-based nonprofit whose earnings are reinvested in our mission to “save animals and their habitats through conservation leadership and engaging experiences, inspiring people to learn, care and act.”
Woodland Park Zoo is a community-based organization that remains open to dialogue, and while we certainly respect personal conviction related to animals, we believe you deserve to draw your conclusions based on accurate information.
We invite you to spend a few minutes reading and absorbing the following counterpoints to misleading arguments published in the most recent action alert issued by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA):
Read the complete counterpoint analysis at www.zoo.org/facts
The Real Elephant in the RoomHere’s the real elephant in the room—the future of elephants is at stake. Each day, 96 elephants are killed in Africa. At this rate, the species will be extinct within 20 years. In Asia, elephants are endangered and wild populations continue to be decimated. This cannot go on. We will not be the generation that allows elephants to disappear.
|African elephants. Photo by Julie Larsen Maher/Wildlife Conservation Society.|
Every time you visit the zoo, you contribute to conservation. Your visit allows us to support direct conservation action on the ground in Africa and Asia through partners like the Tarangire Elephant Project in Tanzania. There our collaborative efforts support a network of 33 game scouts in seven villages who serve as anti-poaching patrol. Our partner reports that in the last year alone, 55 poachers have been arrested.
|Village Game Scouts sponsored by the Tarangire Elephant Project in the Makame Wildlife Management Area, Tanzania. Photo by Boniface Osujaki/Tarangire Elephant Project.|
We believe those who connect with nature are inspired to protect it. At Woodland Park Zoo, the elephants are conservation heroes. They bring the fight against elephant extinction into the hearts of our visitors and stir us to action. And we’re seeing incredible results. This summer alone, 5,000 zoo visitors and community members have joined our 96 Elephants campaign, named for the number of African elephants killed each day to fuel the international ivory trade. Shockingly, the United States is the second biggest market for ivory in the world. With your help, we are putting pressure on elected officials to end the ivory trade in Washington state. Working with a coalition of more than 150 zoos and partners, we’re committed to stopping the demand, stopping the trade and stopping the killing.
|U.S. Fish and Wildlife repository of confiscated ivory. Photo by Julie Larsen Maher/Wildlife Conservation Society.|
What we do collectively is powerful, but let’s not forget about the individuals in our herd. Each has his or her own voice and story to tell, like 9-year-old zoo member Karina, whose advocacy for elephants among her school peers earned her the honorary title of Future Zookeeper of the Year. Karina represents the next generation of conservation stewards whose actions and attitudes will determine the fate of endangered elephants, and in hands like hers, the future looks bright.
Woodland Park Zoo has been a part of this broad community for more than 100 years, and in that time, much has changed in our knowledge and practices, and in our mission and vision. Looking forward, we’re committed to always listening, always learning, and always evolving, working toward one vision: a world with elephants for generations to come.