Target: Kim Smith, Director of the Oregon Zoo
Goal: Persuade zoo to release elderly elephants to an appropriate sanctuary so they can spend their final years roaming freely on many acres of land
Packy is a 51-year-old elephant living at the Oregon Zoo. Throughout the past year, Packy has been exhibiting signs of weakened health, depression, and boredom. Along with many others, comedian and longtime activist Lily Tomlin has been speaking out against elderly elephant captivity and drawing a great deal of media attention to the zoo.
The Oregon Zoo initiated a bond measure in 2008 to create an offsite multi-acre elephant preserve, however, the measure’s language didn’t actually promise to build a preserve. Instead, the language stated that the $125 million bond would be used for a feasibility study for a potential offsite elephant center that would allow the zoo to grow its herd.
Elephants are the most popular attraction at the Oregon Zoo. Over a million visitors come to see them each year. Earlier this year, the zoo broke ground on another bond project that will expand its zoo elephant exhibit by 2015. Animal rights groups Free the Oregon Zoo Elephants and In Defense of Animals, have held protests outside the zoo’s gates and suggested that the elephants be released in designated elephant sanctuaries in either Northern California or Tennessee.
Sign the below petition to urge the Oregon Zoo to release its sick, elderly elephants to a designated elephant sanctuary where they can live their final days out of confining captivity.
Dear Ms. Smith,
Your zoo’s elephant, Packy, has served your facility and the public well for the past 51 years. Now that he is falling mentally and physically ill, it is time to retire him to a peaceful place to freely live out his final days.
The bond money that the zoo received should be used to build an elephant sanctuary or preserve to care for the elephants that have been on public display for so long. Simply expanding the elephant area in the zoo to draw in more visitors is unacceptable.
We applaud your zoo’s efforts to preserve the habitats of wild elephants and protect them from the ivory trade in Africa and Asia. However, conservation must first begin on your own property.
I am urging you to work with respectable elephant sanctuaries in the United States to secure a future for your sick, tired, and elderly elephants. You and I have the option to retire after decades of faithful service in the workplace. Please consider giving your elephants the same opportunity for peace, health, and security.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Duden-Dödel via WikiMedia Commons