Release Zoo Elephants to a Sanctuary


Target: Ed Murray, Mayor of Seattle

Goal: Demand that inhumane zoo release its elephants to a sanctuary

The elephant program at Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle, Washington, which houses three elephants, Bamboo, Chai, and Watoto, was recently placed under pressure by the public to reevaluate its program out of concern for the elephants’ welfare. Despite the problems with the program such as the elephants’ health problems related to life in captivity, old enclosure, wrong climate, ceaseless failed attempts to breed Chai, and concerns from experts about the mixing of two different elephant species, an assigned task force concluded the program was satisfactory, with a few minor adjustments. The zoo has now announced a new five year plan for this program to add even more elephants and a few modifications to their enclosures.

Some of the people the zoo assigned to the task force were former zoo board members and none of them were objective experts in the field. The zoo argued that elephant sanctuaries don’t share the same mission and veterinary standards as it does, and said there are too many dangers that exist in the wild. The zoo’s mission and standards have to be questioned, however, when it has appeared on a list of the Top Ten Worst Zoos for elephants for seven years.

The zoo is planning to add more elephants to its program and relocate the African elephant, Watoto, to another facility to be held in captivity rather than a sanctuary where she can enjoy the vast open space she deserves. It seems as though the zoo’s endless attempts for breeding will not stop either. Its failed breeding program is controversial, and according to information from a Seattle Times Investigation, in order to sustain a population in captivity, the zoo will need to bring in ten female elephants a year, which just isn’t feasible.

Elephants are migratory animals that are genetically programmed to travel long distances. Taking elephants from the wild and forcing them into a life of captivity, especially in an unnaturally cold climate, does nothing for their conservation. In fact, it adds to the ominous threat for their survival.  Elephant sanctuaries are a much better alternative, where they are free to live on hundreds of acres, compared to the one acre they share at the zoo. By signing this petition, you will help urge the Mayor of Seattle to put an end to the inhumane treatment of these intelligent animals and urge the Woodland Park Zoo to release them to an elephant sanctuary.


Dear Mayor Ed Murray,

I am writing this letter on behalf of a large population of concerned citizens who fear for the welfare of the three female elephants who have lived in the Woodland Park Zoo nearly their entire lives. Bamboo, Chai, and Watoto currently share one acre of land that cannot even be used to its full capacity because it is necessary to separate the two species of elephants. Elephants are migratory animals who are genetically programmed to travel long distances, so one acre is certainly not enough. To make matters worse, they are kept indoors, in a small stall for 16-17 hours a day for more than half the year because they cannot withstand Seattle’s cold, wet climate.

The evidence of these animals’ horrible psychological and physiological state are in the abnormal behaviors and illnesses they all exhibit. They all suffer from neurotic behavior, such as rocking or swaying, arthritis, and foot disease, which are all problems related to living in captivity.

The zoo has spent over $480,000 to fight the media and citizen criticism over its elephant program, but over half of your city continues to disagree with their mistreatment of these animals. In a recent survey, 62% of Seattle residents have agreed that the elephants should be sent to a sanctuary, where they are free to live on hundreds of acres in a more suitable climate. Please listen to the taxpayers of Seattle and experts in the field by urging the Woodland Park Zoo to release these intelligent animals to an elephant sanctuary.


[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: Cara_VSAngel via Flickr

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  1. Sheila Jefferson says:

    Please be humane and release them to a sanctuary.
    Thank you.

  2. Pinke Andersson says:

    These giants need to be moved to a Sanctuary asap! The Zoo have made enough money of their misery! They have done theirs! So let have some joy and freedom to be without the crowds, They do deserve it!

  3. Rita Grahn says:

    Read “Elephant Whisperer” by the late Lawrence Anthony, and then you will understand why elephants need freedom and wide open spaces to roam.

  4. Barbara Griffith says:

    I live 20 miles south of Seattle and the climate is to cold for a animal that normally lives in a warmer dryer climate. For the past five years we have had cold wet springs, for most of the winter it has rained here almost every day. The zoo is just trying to make money off of the public thinking no one has sense enough to understand this is not the place for elephants.

  5. please make sure these wonderful elephants are moved some where they will be looked after well and treated with respect, they are wild animals, make them safe.

  6. Please relocate them to a sanctuary that will take good care of them and they will be free !!! No show for anybody

  7. Christina Anderson says:

    The elephants can’t free themselves. They are prisoners of this horrible place, as well as a lot of other horrible places. I detest zoos. They used to have a good reputation, but not any more! They are all about money!!!

  8. Send the elephants to a reputable sanctuary where they will be properly cared for and loved!! Animals deserve to live in peace and harmony and not to be exploited by greedy, unethical people. Do the responsible thing and send them to a reputable animal sanctuary. We need to protect all animals because many of them are very near extinction.

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