Media Release: Animal Advocates And Keepers Urge Oregon Zoo Not To Kill Packy

Media Release: Animal Advocates And Keepers Urge Oregon Zoo Not To Kill Packy

MEDIA RELEASE: Animal Advocates And Keepers Urge Oregon Zoo Not To Kill Packy The Elephant


Toni Frohoff, Ph.D.,, 805-836-0496
Courtney Scott,, 503-544-7384

Portland, OR (February 7, 2017) – Animal advocates from In Defense of Animals and Free the Oregon Zoo Elephants are urgently calling on citizens to plea for the life of beloved elephant Packy, following a leak of the Oregon Zoo’s apparent plans to kill him. An elephant keeper and another Zoo employee, calling themselves “Team Packy”, have exposed what appears to be a closed-door, lethal discussion between the Oregon Zoo management and Metro Council.

A statement by the keeper on a dedicated Facebook page reads, “It appears Zoo Management and Metro are about to make the decision to put Packy down and this decision is not based on science, safety or Packy’s best interest. It is a risk based decision made by politicians, attorneys and other officials who fear the future repercussions of keeping him alive.”

54-year old Asian elephant Packy is the oldest known Asian male elephant in North America. He was diagnosed with tuberculosis in 2013 but reportedly shows no signs of suffering from the disease. According to his keeper, “Packy has yet to show any symptoms or signs of being ill. So should they really be considering euthanasia if he has the disease, but is not sick?”

In answer to someone who asked if Packy is in any pain or suffering, the keeper answered, “Packy has never shown any signs or symptoms of the TB infection. He is showing no signs of pain or discomfort. He is active, playful and engaged with keeper staff every day.” The Zoo’s own Facebook page repeatedly corroborates the absence of signs of illness in Packy, and in December a Zoo official told the Portland Tribune, “Day to day he doesn’t appear to be suffering…”

“If Packy really is not suffering, the zoo owes him hospice, not death,” said In Defense of Animals President, Dr. Marilyn Kroplick. “Research shows that elephants are self-aware and conscious animals. Oregon Zoo brought Packy into the world and profited from him; now they need to provide the care he needs.”

“Make no mistake, this would not be ‘euthanasia’ but ‘zoothanasia,’” said Toni Frohoff, Ph.D., Elephant Scientist for In Defense of Animals, referring to the controversial practice of destroying animals who are considered surplus to zoo breeding programs because of age or genetics. “Euthanasia is killing out of compassion to alleviate an individual's suffering. This does not appear to be the case for Packy.”

Frohoff continued, “In Defense of Animals is demanding that the Oregon Zoo immediately produce Packy’s clinical veterinary records, which would detail his actual health status. The Zoo is responsible for providing Packy with the best quality of life for as long as possible, and the only way to ensure that is through complete transparency and accountability to the public.”

Courtney Scott of Free the Oregon Zoo Elephants said, “We join the efforts of Packy’s keepers in trying to stop any plans to destroy Packy for no other reason than convenience. His keepers are arguing that he is not suffering, protocols are in place, and the keepers have requested few reasonable modifications to keep him from infecting others. If Packy is not suffering, he should not be killed.”

Team Packy has raised concerns that “We keepers spend more time with the elephants than any of the decision makers I mentioned before but our wants and wishes and suggestions are not being heard.”

The keeper made an impassioned plea for the public to help stop an “irreversible mistake” being made. “If you agree that putting down an animal who has a disease, but shows no signs of feeling ill is as disturbing as we do, we ask you to let everyone know how you feel in emails of protest to the Metro Council and Zoo Director.”

Oregon Zoo earned fifth place on In Defense of Animals’ 2016 list of the “Worst Zoos for Elephants in North America”. The captive animal park has been shamed on the list a total of seven times.

While In Defense of Animals and Free the Oregon Zoo Elephants does not support the keeping of elephants in captivity in zoos, they commend the compassion and professionalism shown by “Team Packy” for supporting Packy’s right to life and by being transparent with the public that funds this zoo with tax dollars.

Please contact Oregon Zoo, the Zoo Foundation, and Metro Council to plea for Packy’s life:
Oregon Zoo’s Director, Don Moore, 503-220-2450
Metro Council President, Tom Hughes, 503-797-1989
Oregon Zoo Foundation Communications Coordinator, Rita Paolo, 503-220-5771

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In Defense of Animals is an international animal protection organization with over 250,000 supporters and a 30-year history of fighting for animals, people and the environment through education, campaigns and hands-on rescue facilities in India, Africa, and rural Mississippi.

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