Critics voices grew even louder after Watoto, the zoo’s African elephant, died. The zoo had two remaining elephants, both living on about one acre of land. In early November, the Department of Agriculture revealed that WPZ violated its Animal Welfare Act by not ensuring the animals had shelter during inclement weather.
As expected, advocates aren’t happy that the elephants are being transferred to another zoo, saying they need to be sent to a sanctuary instead.
A Seattle Times editorial published before the decision suggested that WPZ should have fundraised — as it’s done successfully in the past for other projects — to move the elephants somewhere where they could be left alone after a life of captivity and endless unsuccessful artificial insemination attempts.
In a guest editorial, former WPZ director David Towne said the animals should remain in a zoo, where they can be social with other elephants. Saying that these animals will receive better care and socialization in a zoo, rather than in a sanctuary, is questionable.
Local advocates have asked the mayor and City Council to “use their authority to require that Bamboo and Chai go to a facility accredited by the Global Federation of Sanctuaries like PAWS.”
The activists are right to ask for help from city leaders. Now is the time for us all to thank the elephants for their years at WPZ by funding a retirement — in a sanctuary — that they can really enjoy.