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Seattle Times letters to the editor

November 25, 2014 at 1:07 PM

Animals in captivity: Echoes of Woodland Park Zoo elephants in caged UW monkeys

Kudos to The Seattle Times editorial board for trumpeting a clarion call to the Woodland Park Zoo on behalf of Chai and Bamboo, the zoo’s elephants [“Mayor and City Council should ensure elephants don’t end up in another zoo,” Opinion, Nov. 19]. The Times handed Seattle City Council members an electoral mandate: ensure sanctuary, not captivity, as the final home for these sentient and beloved creatures.

The Times rightly notes that the city owns the land and has a say in the zoo’s business. Moreover, an open, warm climate is more suited to pachyderms, not another zoo.

But what about the underground house of horrors being built for primates by the University of Washington beneath Seattle streets? [“UW approves new animal-research facility,” Local News, Nov. 14] Higher primates, like elephants, share a capacity for emotions and for awareness, including awareness of suffering. The callous reduction of these creatures into “things” for our “use” is abhorrent to human values.

Jane Goodall opened the world’s eyes to the complexities of primate communities and capacity for emotion. Yet in Seattle, these aware beings, the closest to humans in terms of sentience, will never see the light of day. “Out of sight, out of mind”: Is that what Seattle stands for?

Harvard Medical School is moving to close its primate research center. Where will Harvard’s 2,000 primates go?  Echoes of Woodland Park: to other research centers.  Maybe even beneath Northeast Pacific Street.

Mitzi Simmons, Seattle

Comments | More in animals | Topics: elephants, Mitzi Simmons, monkeys

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