Seattle Mayor Ed Murray and fivemembers of the City Council sent a letter to the Woodland Park Zoo president and CEO Monday asking that the zoo’s two elephants be sent to a wildlife sanctuary, rather than to another zoo.
Zoo officials announced in November that the two elephants, Chai and Bamboo, would be relocated to another accredited zoo so they could be part of a larger, social herd. In the letter addressed to President and CEO Deborah Jensen, Murray and councilmembers Sally Bagshaw, Bruce Harrell, Mike O’Brien, Nick Licata and Kshama Sawant recommend that the elephants be transferred to a facility “that is focused primarily on the welfare of the animals.”
The letter urges Jensen and the Woodland Park Zoo board members to use the following criteria to make their decision: Increase the size and complexity of the yard where the elephants live, provide a drier, warmer climate or ensure that barns and shelters are provided, and ensure they have expanded activities to improve their behavioral health and support medical health.
Murray and the councilmembers ask that they be advised of the decision about placement of the two elephants no later than Feb. 27. An independent third party has offered to pay the cost of transporting the elephants if they go to a sanctuary, the letter notes.
The Woodland Park Zoo Board of Directors has extended its public comment period for Tuesday’s board meeting, with community members allowed to speak from 3:30 p.m. to 4:15 p.m. The board will begin its regular business meeting at 4:20 p.m., however, the elephant relocation plan is not on the agenda for the business meeting because the officials are still working on finding a new home for the animals.