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


Woodland Park Zoo’s ‘Hoot for the Hood’ event celebrates neighbors

June 20th, 2015 by Doree

Woodland Park Zoo is hosting its annual “Hoot for the Hood” neighbor event from 6:30-8 p.m. Friday, June 26, to thank neighbors in Phinney Ridge, Wallingford, Fremont and Green Lake.

Chat with your neighbors, make new friends and hang out with our new maned wolves. We encourage neighbors to bring friends and family to enjoy this exclusive evening.

Entrance is free and so is evening parking. Enter through the West Plaza on Phinney Avenue North between North 55th and 56th streets.

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Woodland Park Zoo elephants arrive in Oklahoma City

May 13th, 2015 by Doree

Woodland Park Zoo’s elephants, Chai and Bamboo, have arrived at their new home in Oklahoma City, after being diverted to San Diego last month.

KING 5 had a crew on scene when the elephants’ caravan arrived about 3 a.m. at the Oklahoma City Zoo.

The elephants left Seattle after a years-long fight with animal activists over the elephants’ well being. Activists fought for the elephants to be moved to a sanctuary instead of another zoo. The elephants left for Oklahoma City hours after a judge gave the okay, but the caravan was diverted to San Diego due to severe weather.

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ZooTunes tickets go on sale Friday

April 20th, 2015 by Doree

Tickets for Woodland Park Zoo’s ZooTunes concert series go on sale at 8 a.m. Friday, April 24.

Here’s the lineup:

  • June 19 – The Doobie Brothers with special guest Pat Simmons Jr.
  • June 28 – The B-52s
  • July 12 – Indigo Girls
  • July 21 – Melissa Etheridge & Blondie
  • July 22 – Bruce Hornsby & The Noisemakers
  • July 26 – “Sweet Harmony Soul” featuring Mavis Staples, Patty Griffin & Amy Helm
  • July 29 – Emmylou Harris & Rodney Crowell
  • August 9 – Ziggy Marley
  • August 16 – Trampled By Turtles & The Devil Makes Three
  • August 19 – Kenny Loggins

One child (12 and under) is free with each paid general admission ticket. Online tickets are available through a new system this year via Ticketfly. You can also buy tickets at zoo gates during regular zoo hours.

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

April 15th, 2015 by Dale

Update Thursday: Woodland Park Zoo posted an FAQ on its website with answers to questions about the move, including why it happened without advanced notice, and what keepers packed for the elephants on their 40-hour journey.

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.


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.

Zoo Doo steaming with vent tubes Ryan Hawk-resized

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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