Kuchimba the aardvark would have been happier under the roasting sun of Sub-Saharan Africa than an enclosure in the Oregon Zoo. Unfortunately, that isn't how things played out for him.
The young aardvark was sent from the Sacramento Zoo to the enormous Portland Zoo in 2017 and was used as part of a special program in which zoo guests could pay a premium to have up close and personal experiences with animals that weren't always on display. This practice has been used by zoos across the country to generate extra income. However, it puts the zoo's bottom line ahead of the welfare of the animals they put on display.
Now the Oregon Zoo is under scrutiny for doing just that after Kuchimba suddenly passed away in December of last year. According to an independent pathologist, Kuchimba died of emaciation, meaning that the animal basically starved to death. While the report suggests that the emaciation could have been exacerbated by being in such a cold climate, the upshot is this: under the "watchful eye of the Oregon Zoo" their "premium experience animal" withered away and died.
And unfortunately, it's not just Kuchimba that's had the misfortune of being in the care of zookeepers at the famed Portland institution. Care2 has named the Oregon Zoo the #1 worst zoo for elephants for its use of bullhooks, their irresponsible breeding program, animal welfare violations, and exploitation. Additionally, the zoo is often a regular on In Defense of Animals Hall of Shame for elephant exploitation.
Don't believe the hype around the Oregon Zoo. Its mission is far from conservation. Their main goal is to make money hand over hoof, not to protect their animals. It's time the Portland Metro government realize that they are supporting an irresponsible, unethical enterprise in the Oregon Zoo. And their support must end.
Tell Portland to end the torture. Sign to tell city officials to shut down the zoo.