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Opinion Northwest

Join the informed writers of The Times' editorial board in lively discussions at our blog, Opinion Northwest.

October 13, 2014 at 9:54 AM

Poll: What should Woodland Park Zoo do with its two surviving elephants?

In case you missed Saturday’s editorial, The Seattle Times again called on the Woodland Park Zoo to release its elephants to a sanctuary.

These creatures are loved. They are major attractions for visitors. But they are suffering where they are.

Watoto walks out into the Woodland Park Zoo elephant enclosure after getting washed down in the elephant barn. (Photo by Steve Ringman / The Seattle Times, 2012)

In this 2012 photo, Watoto walks out into the Woodland Park Zoo elephant enclosure after getting washed down in the elephant barn. (Photo by Steve Ringman / The Seattle Times)

Watoto’s death should force city leaders to reassess the future of the zoo’s pachyderm exhibit. Last week’s necropsy results indicate the poor thing either fell or laid down — and could not get up. It remains unclear just how long she was in that position before zookeepers found her the morning of Aug. 22. Soon after, they made the decision to euthanize her. (For background on the economics and struggles of elephants in captivity, see the Seattle Times’ “Glamour Beasts” investigative series.)

As the editorial states:

Time to leave these elephants alone.

Resolve to treat them more humanely, and consider turning the confined space where they are trapped now into a learning center for conservation efforts.

Other zoos in Alaska, Toronto and Detroit have sent their elephants to the Performing Animal Welfare Sanctuary in California, where the weather is warmer and the animals have space to roam freely.

Here’s a 2013 testimonial from Detroit Zoo Director Ron Kagan, which opted to move its elephants in 2004. (Hat tip to the Friends of Woodland Park Zoo Elephants Facebook page, which posted this video on Friday.)

What do you think? Vote in our poll.

Comments | Topics: elephants, watoto, woodland park zoo

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