August 5th, 2011 by Nicole Meyer
On July 15, 2011, members of Friends of Woodland Park Zoo Elephants and Sound Animal Rights Alliance took their campaigns to the skies. We hired an airplane to tow the message: “ZOO ELEPHANTS SUFFER” over the Woodland Park Zoo during their largest gala fundraiser of the year. As the plane flew overhead for about an hour, elephant advocates met attendees at the West entrance to the zoo, holding signs and banners and calling for the elephants to be sent to a sanctuary. The plane also flew over Interstate 5 and Highway 99 during Friday rush hour.
This outreach action captured great media attention, an important goal of the aerial messaging. The flyover was followed by a letter-writing campaign to the Seattle City Council and the Zoo asking for the elephants’ retirement to The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee.
WPZ’s own medical records show that Bamboo, Watoto and Chai suffer from captivity-induced ailments including crippling arthritis and chronic foot infections. These conditions are directly caused by lack of space and severe confinement, which will likely cause their premature deaths, as they do for so many other elephants in zoos.
All three elephants display severe neurotic behaviors such as head-bobbing, swaying and pacing in tight circles; all signs of serious distress. According to behavioral experts like Dr. Gay Bradshaw, “stereotypies are a common symptom of people in prisons as well as animals in zoos. They are a coping mechanism that helps to protect the mind against unbearable stress and trauma.”
This blog was contributed by Alyne Fortgang of Friends of Woodland Park Zoo Elephants in Seattle. From time to time IDA’s Elephant Blog features guest bloggers who are working hard to help elephants in their area. We’re pleased to offer you this blog and we hope you’ll be inspired by this creative action for the elephants!