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Originally published November 19, 2014 at 5:25 PM | Page modified November 19, 2014 at 10:18 PM

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Editorial: Mayor and City Council should ensure elephants don’t end up in another zoo

The Woodland Park Zoo’s decision to phase out its elephant exhibit is the humane thing to do. But Chai and Bamboo should be sent to sanctuary, not another zoo.


Seattle Times Editorial

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CHAI and Bamboo are leaving Seattle next year.

Woodland Park Zoo visitors will miss these beloved elephants when the exhibit closes, but zoo officials should ensure they do not end up in another zoo.

Mayor Ed Murray and the Seattle City Council should use every influence they have to affect this decision. The city owns the land and contributes to the zoo’s budget. Chai and Bamboo should go to a sanctuary.

Deborah Jensen, the zoo’s president and chief executive, announced Wednesday that the two elephants would be “relocated together to an Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) facility that shares our commitment to animal health and welfare and conservation through education, and provides viewing access to the animals.”

In other words, their intention is to move Chai, 35, and Bamboo, 47, from one confined space to another. More of the same.

Details are yet to be ironed out, but the Seattle City Council — which also serves double duty as board members of the Seattle Park District — should require the zoo to retire these animals. Make no mistake: This is now an election issue for City Council races.

Last August, the zoo euthanized a third African elephant, Watoto, after she fell and could not get up. These giant animals need more room to move.

The best home for the elephants is a sanctuary in a warm climate, such as the 2,300-acre Performing Animal Welfare Society in San Andreas, Calif.

Chai and Bamboo have spent their entire lives entertaining zoo-goers.

The show is over.

They deserve to live out the rest of their days in peace.

Editorial board members are editorial page editor Kate Riley, Frank A. Blethen, Ryan Blethen, Jonathan Martin, Thanh Tan, Blanca Torres, Robert J. Vickers, William K. Blethen (emeritus) and Robert C. Blethen (emeritus).



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