The unexpected death of one of the Woodland Park Zoo's three elephants on Friday has left her supporters mourning and reignited the debate about their continued captivity in Seattle.
Watoto, an African elephant who was taken from the wild at the tender age of two, has been on display at the zoo for more than four decades.
She was found down and unable to get herself up when zookeepers arrived at work early that morning. According to a statement from the zoo, they tried to lift her with cloth straps and later with heavy machinery but were unsuccessful. Her health continued to deteriorate and the zoo made the "difficult decision" to euthanize her.
Her advocates are hoping that her death will not be in vain and that it will serve as the wake up call the zoo needs to get it to do what it should have done a long time ago: retire it's remaining two elephants to a sanctuary where they can live out their days in peace.
Please sign the petition urging Seattle officials to exercise their authority to move Bamboo and Chai to a sanctuary.
As someone who is concerned with animal welfare and the plight of captive elephants in the U.S., I am writing to express my sadness over the sudden and tragic death of Watoto, the lone African elephant at the Woodland Park Zoo.
Her death not only leaves two Asian elephants – Bamboo, 47, and Chai, 35 – behind, but adds to the controversy that has surrounded the the zoo for years. Elephant advocates have long argued that all three suffer from physical and psychological problems as a result of captivity and being kept in an inappropriate climate in an outdated enclosure that's too small for them.
Watoto's heartbreaking death is only compounded by the fact that the zoo inappropriately mixed two species, denying Watoto the companionship of her own kind for her entire life.
It’s widely known that elephants in particular don’t do well in captivity. Already, an estimated 26 zoos across the country have closed, or are working towards closing, their elephant exhibits.
I sincerely hope you will exercise your authority to see that the zoo's two remaining elephants, who both still have many years left to enjoy, are moved to a sanctuary in a more appropriate climate where they can live out their days in peace.
It's time to stop stop supporting this zoo at the expense of taxpayers and the welfare of these elephants.