Letter to the editor: a second response to “In Close Quarters”

Friends of Woodland Park Zoo Elephants is appreciative for Christy Wolyniak’s article “In Close Quarters”. The exchange between Woodland Park Zoo’s curator, Bruce Upchurch and me brought this Upton Sinclair quote to mind: "It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it."

Elephants are far-ranging animals—their physical and psychological health depends upon moving great distances. At Woodland Park Zoo, Bamboo, Chai and Watoto get only a pen or two within a one acre yard. There is no question about this.

For seven months each year these highly intelligent elephants are locked up in a barren stall for 16-17 hours a day. The tiny stall is the human equivalent of a square cell 4 feet on each side. The elephants can barely pace a couple of steps.

Upchurch stated at a Zoo Board meeting that the elephants get out 7-8 hours a day, confirming our years of documenting the elephants’ 16-17 hour lock-up. This lock-up is continuous from early October through early May despite the zoo’s claim they are “only” locked up when temps are below 40.

But what if we are to believe the zoo’s claim? In the four coldest consecutive months when Upchurch made his statement, the elephants would have been locked up for 75% of their lives.

“What we have is enough [for the elephants]” says Bruce Upchurch. We don’t think so and experts outside of the zoo industry don’t think so.

Science, compassion and common sense compels us to allow Bamboo, Chai and Watoto to heal from the trauma of severe confinement at the 2,700 acre Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee.

For more information go to www.freeWPZelephants.org. Click on: issues or view videos of the elephants’ neurotic repetitive behaviors.

Alyne Fortgang
Co-founder, Friends of Woodland Park Zoo Elephants

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