A news blog for Seattle's Phinney Ridge and Greenwood neighborhoods

 

UPDATED: Woodland Park Zoo elephants on the road to Oklahoma City Zoo

April 15th, 2015 by Dale

Update 6:25 p.m.: We just saw the flatbed truck with the elephants in climate-controlled crates leave Woodland Park Zoo, heading north on Phinney Avenue with an escort of police cars.

Earlier: The Woodland Park Zoo elephants are being prepared for their move to Oklahoma City, according to KING 5 news, which has a story being updated here.

You can also see live video of the preparations.

That’s the reason for the news helicopters hovering over the neighborhood. The noise from them is causing some consternation, say commenters on the PhinneyWood Facebook page.

Update 5:30 p.m.: Plenty of camera crews and reporters are stationed at the zoo’s South Entrance, waiting for the trucks carrying Chai and Bamboo to begin their journey to Oklahoma.

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Today the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals denied an appeal for a federal preliminary injunction by the Elephant Justice Project (which is affiliated with Friends of Woodland Park Zoo Elephants), which has been trying to have the elephants sent to a sanctuary rather than another zoo. Friends of Woodland Park Zoo Elephants has spent years highlighting what it says are unbearable conditions for zoo elephants. The group even hosted a press conference with actress/comedienne (and animal rights activist) Lily Tomlin in 2009.

The zoo had resisted calls to shut down its elephant exhibit for years, and in 2013 a task force had even recommended it expand its elephant program, but in November 2014 the zoo decided to close down its elephant program. In February the zoo announced it would send its remaining two elephants to Oklahoma City. The Seattle Times published a story on April 10 with details about the Oklahoma City Zoo.

Here’s today’s official statement from the zoo’s president and CEO, Dr. Deborah Jensen, posted on the zoo’s website.

SEATTLE – United States Courts for the Ninth Circuit today denied an emergency motion for injunctive relief. Following is a statement released by Woodland Park Zoo President and CEO Dr. Deborah Jensen:

“We are grateful to the federal Ninth Circuit for denying the emergency motion for a preliminary injunction that would have delayed the move of our two elephants to Oklahoma City Zoo.

“Today’s decision clears the way for us to proceed with moving our elephants, Bamboo and Chai, to join their new family at Oklahoma City Zoo. Focusing on the welfare of our elephants remains our top priority and it is important for us to move them now while the weather conditions are favorable.

“For the safety and security of Bamboo and Chai, we are unable to announce the exact timing of departure but will inform our zoo family and community once they have safely left the grounds of Woodland Park Zoo.

“On behalf of the Board of Directors and staff, I want to thank the community for your continued support during this complicated time. We will keep everyone updated when the elephants are on the road.”

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Zoo’s ‘Party for the Planet’ begins Saturday with conservation activities, scavenger hunt and new maned wolves

April 7th, 2015 by Doree

Woodland Park Zoo’s week-long Party for the Planet starts Saturday with keeper talks, special conservation activities, live musical performances, raptor flight demonstrations, a text message scavenger hunt, and a chance to meet the zoo’s newest residents, maned wolves Lana and Vinny, who have just moved into the Wildlife Survival Zone. Maned wolves have large ears and stilt-like legs.

On April 11, meet Seattle Mariners recycling mascots Captain Plastic and Kid Compost in Zoomazium.

Complete a text message scavenger hunt throughout the zoo and automatically be entered for a chance to win a behind-the-scenes penguin encounter for four.

Party for the Planet, which is free with zoo admission, runs Saturday, April 11, through Sunday, April 19.

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Seattle Times: ‘Who owns Seattle’s elephants? Suit challenges zoo’s control’

March 10th, 2015 by Doree

In case you missed it, the saga of Woodland Park Zoo‘s elephants continues as the Elephant Justice Project has filed a lawsuit challenging whether the zoo actually owns Chai and Bamboo and can therefore legally make the decision to move them to the Oklahoma City Zoo instead of sending them to a sanctuary.

The zoo had planned to move the elephants in the next couple of weeks, but that is now on hold pending a hearing on the motion in King County Superior Court.

The EJP held a press conference yesterday before the city council meeting. From the EJP press release:

Knoll Lowney, an attorney for EJP, summarizes: “The lawsuit is powerful in its simplicity. The Legislature passed a law in 2000 that allowed the City to contract with the Zoo Society to operate and manage the zoo, but the City had no legal authority to give away all of the animals and equipment. Our state Constitution prohibits such gifts. The 2002 agreement giving Chai and Bamboo to the Zoo Society is illegal and unconstitutional, so the Zoo Society has no authority to decide their fate.”

You can read the full Seattle Times article here.

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Woodland Park Zoo’s Spring Fecal Fest begins Monday

March 6th, 2015 by Doree

Woodland Park Zoo’s highly anticipated Spring Fecal Fest begins on Monday, giving gardeners the opportunity to purchase prized compost made from zoo animal droppings. Entries are accepted from March 9-29, with pick-up from April 11 through May 3.

Pick up where the animals left off. Zoo Doo is composed of species feces contributed by the zoo’s non-primate herbivores such as elephants, hippos, giraffes and more, and is perfect to grow veggies and annuals.

Due to a limited supply, Zoo Doo will be available in 5, 32 and 50 gallons only with a maximum of 100 gallons per recipient. Unfortunately, truck loads are not available this spring.

The good news is that Bedspread, the zoo’s premium composted mulch, will be available by the truck load. Bedspread is a combination of Zoo Doo, sawdust, and large amounts of wood chips and is used to cushion perennial beds and woody landscapes including rose beds, shrubs and pathways.

Since this special fertilizer is limited, you have to enter a lottery for the chance to purchase. Online entry forms will be available beginning on Monday. Only one entry per person is eligible for each drawing (there are separate drawings for Zoo Doo and Bedspread). Entries will be selected randomly and only selected entries will be contacted. Phone and mail orders are not accepted.

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Photo by Ryan Hawk, Woodland Park Zoo.

Prices for Zoo Doo: 5 gallons – $5; 10 gallons – $10; 25 gallons – $15; 50 gallons – $20. Limited to 100 gallons per recipient. No truckloads. Pint-sized buckets are available at the ZooStore for $4.95.

Bedspread: Pick-up truck 8×4 bed – $60; 6×4 bed – 50; 6×3 bed -$40. Winners can get up to two full truckloads per person.

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Woodland Park Zoo elephants moving to Oklahoma City Zoo this spring

February 27th, 2015 by Doree

Woodland Park Zoo announced on its blog today that its remaining two elephants, Bamboo and Chai, will move to the Oklahoma City Zoo sometime in late-March to mid-April.

Activists have long called for the zoo to shut down its elephant exhibit and move them to a sanctuary. Instead, the zoo decided to move them to another zoo where they will be part of a larger herd. Oklahoma currently has a family of five elephants, including a 2-month-old baby.

We are happy to announce that we have selected Oklahoma City Zoo, which best meets our criteria based on recommendations from animal welfare experts: a social herd of Asian elephants into which Chai and Bamboo may successfully integrate, a state-of-the-art facility, a healthy environment free of active infectious disease, high caliber elephant keeper and veterinary staff, a restricted contact management system, and an established history of stable finances and leadership.

You can read the full blog post, which details the decision-making process and how Chai and Bamboo will be moved 2,000 miles.

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Group plans to file suit against Woodland Park Zoo over elephant care

February 3rd, 2015 by Doree

The Elephant Justice Project, affiliated with Friends of Woodland Park Zoo Elephants, has notified the zoo of its intent to sue over allegedly violating the Endangered Species Act in its care of elephants and its plan to transfer them to another zoo.

The letter serves as notice that the EJP intends to file a complaint in federal court on the first day permitted in mid-March. The letter describes the conditions that cause Chai and Bamboo physical and psychological harm forbidden by the ESA, including the tiny exhibit and Seattle’s cold, wet climate. The letter also charges that WPZ cannot qualify for the federal permit that it would need to legally ship Chai and Bamboo to another zoo.

In addition to WPZ, the EJP put five zoos and an exotic species transportation company on notice of its impending claim of ESA violations. The five zoos include the Denver and L.A. zoos, to which WPZ has threatened to relocate Seattle’s elephants. The transport company WPZ could likely use for the move has provided such substandard and dangerous care to animals being relocated that a recent transfer ended in the death of an elephant during a move from one zoo to another.

“Since Woodland Park Zoo refuses to this date to even consider retiring Bamboo and Chai to a sanctuary, the EJP was forced to pursue this litigation strategy to ensure that the elephants are not sent to another, equally deplorable zoo,” said EJP co-founder Alyne Fortgang.

The zoo announced in November that it eventually would close its elephant exhibit and sent Chai and Bamboo to another zoo. Friends of Woodland Park Zoo has pressured the zoo for years to send them to a sanctuary instead.

You can download a PDF of the Intent to Sue letter here.

I contacted the zoo today about the lawsuit. Here is their official statement:

Woodland Park Zoo has received the letter from FOWPZE giving 60 days’ notice of its intent to sue over alleged violations of the Endangered Species Act. The Zoo does not comment on threatened or pending litigation.

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Community names Woodland Park Zoo’s new lion cubs

January 29th, 2015 by Doree

Woodland Park Zoo’s three male lion cubs now have names, thanks to community input.

The top vote getter was Tandie, which means “fire.” Lion parents, mom Adia and dad Xerxes, were then given the chance to select two more names by being given enrichment items with the names of the next three highest vote totals. Adia stuck with the cubs while Xerxes chose Gandia, meaning “clever,” and Mandla, meaning “power/strength.”

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Photo by Dennis Dow, Woodland Park Zoo.

Tandie, Gandia and Mandla were born Oct. 24. Their outdoor schedule remains intermittent but they will come out more as warm, dry weather allows.

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Name Woodland Park Zoo’s three lion cubs

January 12th, 2015 by Doree

Woodland Park Zoo is asking the community to name its three lion cubs. The lion keeper team chose 10 names from languages that reflect parts of the South African lion’s native range.

The name with the most votes will automatically be selected as one of the cubs’ names, and the zoo will leave it to lion mother Adia and dad Xerxes to finish the job. The second, third and fourth most popular names selected by the public will be presented to the parents as enrichment choices on Thursday, January 29. Each enrichment item will be associated with a name, and the two the parents touch first will be the names of the final two cubs. Voters will also have the chance to enter a random prize drawing to win a ZooParent lion adoption.

The three lion cubs, all males, were born October 24 to mother Adia and first-time father, Xerxes. The new pride has been living in an off-view maternity den where the cubs can bond and grow in quiet surroundings. Woodland Park Zoo expects to announce the cubs’ public debut in the coming weeks. In preparation, the triplets took their first steps outdoors with Adia and Xerxes during brief practice sessions that introduced the young cubs to their spacious exhibit. Visit the zoo’s blog at bit.ly/1ACObmc for photos of the cubs’ first day outside.

You can vote for up to three names on the zoo’s website. The choices are:

  • Bokang (“Praise” or “Rejoice”)
  • Pule (“Rainy/In the rain”)
  • Tandie (“Fire”)
  • Karabo (“Answer”)
  • Letlotlo (“Treasure”)
  • Phahamo (“Eminence”)
  • Fanyana (“Little boy”)
  • Bheka (“Behold”)
  • Mandla (“Power/Strength”)
  • Gandia (“Clever”)

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Holiday lighting project begins as monkeys ‘escape’ from zoo today

November 25th, 2014 by Doree

Our neighborhood’s new holiday lighting project is 150 metal-framed monkeys with lighting strips that will hang from businesses and trees throughout Phinney Ridge and Greenwood through Jan. 4. Some of those monkeys “escaped” from Woodland Park Zoo today, as a publicity stunt for both the lighting project and the zoo’s annual WildLights event.

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A gorilla, penguin, meerkat, and otter make a run for it with some escaped monkeys this afternoon.

Businesses and community members (including us) sponsored each monkey, which were manufactured with the help of numerous neighborhood volunteers. Sponsors of the project include the PNA Business Membership and the City of Seattle’s Department of Neighborhoods.

WildLights officially kicks off on Friday night (although there is a preview tonight for all monkey sponsors and the media) and runs through Jan. 4 (closed Dec. 24-25). It runs from 5:30-8:30 p.m. nightly.

The winter lights festival features more than 600,000 LED lights along zoo paths, shaped to look like wild animals and global destinations. The carousel will be open during WildLights (for an additional fee), and food is available for purchase. Visitors can see real reindeer and listen to carolers. Most of the zoo animals will not be on display, but the Day Exhibit (reptiles and amphibians) and a part of the Adaptations Building (sloths, Indian flying foxes and meerkats) will be open during WildLights.

Tickets are $9.75 for adults (ages 13+), $6.50 for children ages 3-12, and free for toddlers ages 2 and under. Enter at the zoo’s West Entrance on Phinney Avenue. Tickets can be purchased online or at zoo gates during regular zoo hours. (Admission to the zoo prior to 5:30 p.m. is not included.) Parking is free.

Another part of the holiday lighting project is the new “Glow Cone,” hanging from the old air raid tower at the Phinney Center at Phinney Avenue and North 67th Street, which will be lit up at 5 p.m. on Saturday. Neighborhood sculptor Kim David Hall developed the designs for the 17-foot-cone and the monkeys.

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The cone is hung from the PNA’s air raid tower earlier this week. Photo by Mike Veitenhans.

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