After Elephant’s Death at Zoo, PETA Calls On Mayor to Shut Down Deadly Exhibit

Surviving Elephants Should Be Retired to a Sanctuary, Says Group

For Immediate Release:
October 10, 2014

David Perle 202-483-7382


This morning, PETA dispatched a letter to Seattle Mayor Ed Murray and the Seattle City Council asking that they take lifesaving action in behalf of the two elephants who remain at the Woodland Park Zoo following the elephant Watoto’s death. As PETA notes in its letter, Watoto’s necropsy has confirmed that her death was the result of chronic lameness and painful arthritis—conditions caused by captivity—which left her unable to stand up for up to eight hours, causing irreversible damage to her crushed organs.

PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to use for entertainment”—is asking the officials to send Chai and Bamboo, the two elephants who remain at the Woodland Park Zoo, to a sanctuary where they’ll enjoy the companionship of other elephants in a more natural setting and have sufficient space to walk for miles every day, something essential for their joint health and overall well-being.

“This elephant’s death was preventable and exemplifies Woodland Park Zoo’s inability to care for elephants properly and its negligence in the face of studies into the causes of captive elephant mortality,” says PETA Foundation Deputy General Counsel Delcianna Winders. “PETA is asking officials to act to ensure that no more elephants suffer and die at Woodland Park Zoo.”

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PETA’s letter to Seattle officials follows.


October 10, 2014


The Honorable Ed Murray
Mayor of Seattle


Dear Mayor Murray:

I am writing to follow up on our September 15 correspondence and—in the wake of Watoto’s necropsy results—to urge you again to prioritize the welfare of the two remaining elephants at the Woodland Park Zoo and use your unique position of influence in order to send them to an accredited sanctuary.

Watoto’s death was preventable and exemplifies Woodland Park Zoo’s blatant neglect and inability to care for elephants properly, making the zoo a wildly inappropriate place for Chai and Bamboo. As we now know, Watoto was suffering from debilitating arthritis—the direct result of zoo confinement. When her chronic lameness and painful arthritic condition proved too much, she collapsed or lay down to alleviate the discomfort, only to be unable to stand up again. Security records from the night prior to her death and the morning of it indicate that the failure of overnight patrol officers to check the elephant exhibit resulted in Watoto’s lying down and being helpless for up to eight hours before zookeepers found her on the morning of her death. Major organs sustained irreversible damage under her massive weight.

Watoto’s story is not an uncommon one for elephants who have been sentenced to a life of captivity. Chai and Bamboo continue to be denied everything that is natural and important to them and are imprisoned by and at the mercy of Woodland Park Zoo, which already failed Watoto. People across the country are concerned about the welfare of Chai and Bamboo, and their watchful and waiting eyes are on Seattle City Council.

Please take immediate action in recognition of Watoto’s preventable death and of the fact that elephants do not belong in a zoo. The Performing Animal Welfare Society in California is an ideal option for Chai and Bamboo, where they would get the care, respite, and space that they deserve. Their well-being continues to be something that PETA and other organizations are very concerned about. Nearly two months have passed since Watoto’s death. Now is the time for a speedy decision to avoid another preventable death. Thank you for your careful consideration of this important issue.

Sincerely yours,

Brittany Peet
Counsel, PETA Foundation

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