Steve Shay
Friends of Woodland Park Zoo Elephants, an organization dedicated to removing the zoo's three resident elephants to a natural elephant reserve in Tennessee, demonstrated outside the south entrance to the zoo Saturday morning.

Latest protest at zoo to remove elephants

Visitors entering the south entrance of the Woodland Park Zoo Saturday were greeted by 26 protesters holding signs that read "Lack of Space is Inhumane" and "Send Chai, Bamboo and Watoto to a sanctuary now!"

The protesters belong to the organization Friends of the Woodland Park Zoo Elephants. Their goal is to dislodge the zoo's three resident elephants, Chai, Bamboo and Watoto from their exhibit and send them to the 2,700 acre Elephant Sanctuary in Hohenwald, Ten. to join the other 18 or so elephants.

They also want other zoos and circuses to do the same. The Elephant Sanctuary pays the expenses when they receive zoo and circus elephants.

Nancy Pennington and Alyne Fortgang are the organization's co-founders.

"We are here today to expose the plight of elephants in zoos and how they suffer," said Fortgang." The elephants at the Woodland Park Zoo are confined to a small barn for 17 hours a day, seven days a week, seven months a year. The Woodland Park Zoo does many wonderful things, but having an elephant exhibit in this climate is not one of the good things they do.

"Watoto and Bamboo don't get along. The exhibit's outdoor acre is separated into four pens. Elephants are migratory animals. If you confine them like this they suffer greatly. Chai paces on her front legs. Bamboo paces in circles. Watoto paces in semi-circles. We watched her stop to pee in the barn, and was then forced to walk in her own pee as she was so confined.

The purpose of elephants moving is to relieve tension in their joints. Otherwise they get foot infections."

Fortgang and the rest of her gang would like to see the three elephants keep moving, until they reach Tennessee.

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re Zoo Eleplhants

The issue of these captive elephants seems pretty clear. They are suffering when better alternatives are available.

The issue of these wingnut

The issue of these wingnut protesters seems pretty clear. They need to get out of our neighborhood and find something better to do.

Free the Elements

It's easy to call someone a wingnut. Considerably harder to take responsibility for your actions. The elephants do not belong in a closet. It's time for the Zoo to close this primitive form of amusement at the pain and suffering of another creature and do the right thing. Let these magnificent creatures enjoy the peace and dignity they deserve on a sanctuary.

These elephants at Woodland

These elephants at Woodland Park zoo are treated very well, in fact, better than any other place on the planet. The continuing protesters should get a life...

Keeping elephants in small zoos is not humane

It is astounding that any person who believes an elephant should be treated humanely could think keeping them indoors 17 hours a day for so much of their life is OK. It is not; not in the name of conservation which is done in the wild to keep them in the wild, and not in the name of education because there are effective ways to inspire children that won't cause this suffering. It’s the zoo’s ego and the gate.

They were NOT created for our entertainment

It is arogant that ANY animal is used for entertainment purposes let alone at the expense of their quality of life and their health and well-being. It is irresponsible to keep them in tight captivity such as the Woodland Park Zoo. They are nomads by nature and need acreage to roam and stay healthy. The sanctuary in Tennesse is an alternative that costs zero $$$$ to the zoo or tax payers. So .... why aren't they being sent there??????? Just so we can stare at them pacing, going stark raving mad, and getting sick.???? I just don't get it!

There is a humane solution

It's gratifying to see that so many people understand that this condition - keeping the elephants in severe confinement - is wrong. Here, where the zoo claims they need money (ours), it costs over $125,000 per year per elephant. The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee has offered to care for (and transport)
our elephants at no cost to WPZ or Seattle taxpayers. There they will have 2,700 acres of varied terrain, hills, trees, streams, a lake - all in a climate that is healthier for elephants.
They'll have free will to choose their own friends (or be alone) go in and out of state of the art barns at will, superb veterinary care and the chance to live as much like elephants as possible in a captive situation. They're paid their dues: been torn away from their families, been locked in tiny spaces indoors for 17 hours a day 7 months of the year, been subjected to mind-numbing boredom which has lead to their stereotypic behavior (swaying, head-bobbing), Chai has been subjected to over 50 artificial inseminations and suffered the loss of her baby, Hansa to the deadly herpes virus.
Seattle should do the right thing: give these long-suffering creatures an honorable and happy retirement. Come support this effort at Friends of Woodland Park Zoo Elephants' 4th annual Jungle Party event on July 10.

Get real

The elephants at WPZ are NOT locked in 17 hours a day for 7 months a year. They have free access in and out of their barn for about 23 hours a day, year-round, and are only kept in their barn when temperatures are so low that it would be unhealthy for them to be outside for long periods of time. Even on cold days, they get as much time outside as they want and is safe to allow them.

It is gratifying to note that, out of the more than 1 million visitors who enjoy and are inspired by Woodland Park Zoo every year, only a very tiny minority fail to understand the value of maintaining these magnificent creatures in this outstanding zoological institution. Frankly, I don't see how such a small lobby continues to garner so much press, even from local papers. There are so many real issues they could expend their energy on.

Ah, the zoo sounds off!

Ah, the zoo sounds off! (comment: "Get Real") Contrary to your rosy outlook, the elephants do NOT have "free access in and out of their barn".
The lock-up times are documented and have been verified by your own staff. It's good to know that humane people recognize the cruelty inflicted on these innocent animals. YOU may not see how "such a small lobby" (were you aware of IDA's International Day for Elephants in Captivity and the huge turn-outs all over the world?) garners so much press, but decent people are making the case heard and the press is taking note. Do what's right for the ANIMALS, not just what increases the gate (elephants). Send them to sanctuary. For what it's REALLY like at WPZ, see

Why is one a "wingnut" because one cares about animals?

I really am so tired of being called a "wingnut" and other such lame names for caring about animals. How sick has the public become when people think it's okay to mistreat animals. It is NOT okay and one is not a wingnut or terrorist for speaking up about this. It's the right thing to do. I don't understand why people are so angry with anyone speaking up for animals? Would you like your beloved dog or cat treated in this way? Why is it okay for us to take wild animals out of their habitats (please don't use the tired "conservation" argument, it just isn't true that WPZ or the circus is helping to "conserve" elephants and there is plenty of proof of it). What kind of people are you that put others down for trying to protect those that do not have a voice and are confined and abused for OUR "entertainment." YOU are the ones that need to get a life and think about something else besides yourselves. Humans are not the only species on the planet - we just ACT like we are. Please open your minds-people thought it was okay just a few decades ago to enslave other humans and deny women the vote because they were "inferior." You have no idea how ignorant you all sound that put down people who have the stones to expose animal cruelty, in all its forms. You don't even have a valid argument; you just throw mean comments. Please have some compassion, people!!!

People who condone cruelty are the wingnuts

It's the same old story - people who deep down inside feel guilty for never standing up for what they believe in, have to resort to name calling when they see someone who makes the effort to protest against something they think is wrong. Elephants in the wild walk hundreds of miles a day and to think that the acre at Woodland Park is sufficient is ridiculous. Most elephants in zoos and circuses suffer excruciatingly painful foot problems that never go away because they are forced to live in these unnatural environments. I urge all you naysayers to visit The Elephant Sanctuary's website at: and if you still think that having 2,700 acres to roam and being able to be friends with whomever you chose is not a better environment than Woodland Park, you truly have wingnuts for brains.

Ignorance is weak

I'm certainly glad to see that most of the comments posted here are in agreement with each other.

Bottom line: Elephants (or any animal for that matter) do not belong in zoos for our or your children's entertainment. Humans seem to think they are entitled to use animals any way they please, even for selfish amusement purposes. And the old school argument that zoo's are great because they inspire more people to become conservation activists after experiencing a "connection' with a particular zoo animal is laughable. If that were true, then the millions of patrons that visit zoos each year should be producing a lot more "Jane Goodalls" than what we have. Where are they????

Another wingnut's voice for the Elephants

It is time for the zoo to do the right thing and let these beautiful unhappy creatures go to the Sanctuary in Tennessee. Many zoo-goers are now better educated about the cruelty involved and also agree that films and books would be just as good for children to learn about elephants without exploiting them and keeping them in such small and close quarters. Elephants do not belong in zoos or circuses period. Set them free!

hours of incarceration confirmed by Zoo management

I attended the Dec. 2nd, 2008 Zoo Board meeting in which Bruce Upchurch, Behavior Management Curator, said the elephants get out 7 – 8 hours a day. He confirmed what we have documented for almost two years: the 3 elephants are locked up 16 – 17 hours in a 2,240 square foot barn (for 7 months). Yes, the elephants have access to the outdoors for 5 months of the year, HOWEVER, they only get a part of the measly 1 acre yard because Bamboo and Watoto must always be kept separated. Science has shown us that this severe confinement shortens their natural lifespan and causes painful diseases and conditions only found in captive elephants.

Elephants are the planet’s largest land mammal, are extraordinarily intelligent, have complex social lives, and are genetically programmed to walk great distances whether food is plentiful or scare. How can keeping elephants confined this way be what we want to teach our children?
Alyne Fortgang
Co-founder, Friends of Woodland Park Zoo Elephants.

This Is A No Brainer

This doesn't cost the Woodland Park Zoo anything to have the elephants moved to a place where they can live free from being exploited for entertainment and profit, where they can have their needs met in an environment far better suited to them than WPZ. For WPZ to not agree shows selfishness and a lack of concern for the elephants health.

Please don't give money to the zoo.

Tell them to let the elephants go to the sanctuary.

Ignorance is not Bliss

For those of you posting here that think people caring for the welfare of these elephants are wingnuts, truly are mental midgets. Are you so self centered to think that no other life form on this planet deserves the freedom to live the way in which they were meant to live. Taking away everything that's natural to them shouldn't be our choice. Especially for 5 minutes of public viewing. You are the ones that need to get a life. Try thinking about something or someone other than yourselves. Zoos will justify this cruelty out of job security. Do you mental midgets really think that zoos have the elephants best interest at heart. I'm sure you will answer "yes". Ignorance is not bliss !!!!!

How very strange. I recall

How very strange. I recall seeing the elephants outside even in the winter months.

Also, has anyone cared to

Also, has anyone cared to acknowledge that the amazing place in Tennessee is for sick and dying elephants? I especially love all of the protestors who bring their leashed dogs with them.

Elephant Sancttuary

Actually, the Elephant Sanctuary is not just for sick and dying elephants so not sure where you got your information. The elephants there may be sick at first because of the abuse they have experienced, but they quickly recouperate when allowed to live in their natural environment. Also, what do dogs have to do with this at all? Dogs and cats are DOMESTICATED animals; elephants are WILD animals who should not be forced to live in a confined environment. There you go again, throwing out ridiculous comments to discredit people who care about animals. What exactly is your point? Really, is there an intelligent argument out there for keeping these animals suffering in WPZ? If so, I would love to hear it from someone who can actually string two sentences together.

Is there an intelligent argument to keep elephants in the zoo?

I agree with the last post and would love to hear an intelligent argument for keeping elephants in the WPZ. As an animal lover, I support the zoo's mission to preserve wildlife and increase public awareness/understanding of animals and their habitats. Ironically, it seems to me that an increased awareness/understanding of elephants is exactly what indicates their need for a better habitat. The zoo has a responsibility to fulfill the mission without causing harm to the wildlife in their care.

Further, I want to express how unfortunate it is to read this site and see how some people choose to apply a whacked-out stereotype to people who care about animal rights. I respect anyone who peacefully uses their voice and resources to fight for whatever cause they believe in. I applaud the Friends of Woodland Park for continuing to speak on behalf of the animals.

heres one.

first of all, saying that the elephants are here just for profit or entertainment is absolutly perposterous. all the animals in the zoo are here for educational purposes. each animal has a story, of conservation, recovery, or an amazing natural history. the elephants here serve a fine purpose of an ambassedor to their species. these gentle giants are not here to entertain or to make a profit, but to teach the world to learn and care for the world around them. they support the zoo's mission statement, which is to develope more conections to nature and the human race. the zoo's mission statement, is not, regardless of your ignorent ideas, "to exploit living beings for money because we are demon spawn lol"


plus, i might add that you may benifit from finding more reliable scources for your information.
17 hours locked in the elephant barn a day? what?
get a clue, pal.

also, the elephants have been raised in captivity their entire lives. they have no knowledge of how to survive in the wild. much less, a remote fenced off "sanctuary?" in the middle of nowhere, full of other emotianally scarred elephants.

and i may also say that wpz is infact, one of the highest rated zoos in the country for conservation, and have played a huge part in keepingother species alive.

oh, and by the way, there are farms and zoos that dont give two shakes of a lambs tail for life. go yell at them.
and to the loonys protesting, i here state that there are far too many animals in situations far worse then these three elephants. you ought to be protesting aboutanimal cruelty in general, as opposed to what you seem to think is cruelty.