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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on December 5, 2012 7:42 AM. The previous post in this blog was Your tax dollars at work, cont'd. The next post in this blog is New York Times is way late to the party. Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Born in the U.S.A.

We're still reeling from the news that the new baby elephant at the Portland zoo in fact belongs to a California elephant rental company that gets low grades from animal rights groups. Willy Week called the revelation a bombshell, and that's exactly right.

Of course, as we predicted, yesterday zoo officials spent the day trying to convince everyone that there was nothing newsworthy in the story. Lending of animals happens all the time, there was never any intent to put the baby in the carnival show, we're negotiating in good faith, blah blah blah. We caught a clip of the zoo director on the news last night, and she looked guilty as sin. It was faintly reminiscent of an episode of "Cops." The zoo has been, quite exquisitely, busted.

The O and the TV stations all fell in behind the establishment, faithfully repeating every spin statement emanating from the zoo operators. Big headlines: Baby is going to stay, yada yada. Since the originally story appeared in the Seattle Times, and the lame Portland news organizations missed it, of course they were happy to relay the message from Metro headquarters that there was really no story for them to miss. It's all perfectly normal, everything's fine -- it was the message Portland mainstream media is always more than happy to send out.

The problem for the zoo and the editors who were embarrassingly scooped is that this is not perfectly normal, and everything's not fine. This is not one nonprofit zoo borrowing an exotic animal from another. This is a government-run zoo selling an animal to a circus. That doesn't happen all the time, and it's not right.

And for all the talk about what everyone's "intent" is, the fact is that under the contract between the zoo and Have Trunk Will Travel, HTWT owns the calf. Maybe it will leave her in Portland with her mother -- maybe for a while, maybe forever -- but it clearly doesn't have to. She's the property of HTWT. That outfit literally owns her.

Yesterday the kids at the Merc dug out an old Oregonian story that reported that HTWT could not legally take possession of the baby until she turns four years old. But the contract that was published in several places yesterday contains no such clause.

What doesn't hang together in all the discussion of the baby's future is that it doesn't reveal what's in this for the carnies. Here they have lent their main stud elephant to Portland -- he's been up here getting it on at least twice now -- and so far, from all appearances, they haven't been compensated for it at all. Under the contract, this baby is one of three that are supposed to make up the compensation. If they don't take her, they provided the stud service for free.

Sorry, but that isn't a credible story. At some point, either some elephant flesh or some money will have to be paid by Portland to HTWT, and apparently it will be up to HTWT, not the zoo, to decide which to take.

You can just imagine in a few years, when the heat is off, the zoo deciding that this particular elephant is a "problem." Or that the elephant quarters are becoming too "crowded." And then off to her owners she will go, there to suffer who knows what indignities.

Why is the Oregon Zoo dealing with a traveling elephant carnival, anyway? HTWT "trains" its elephants to perform unnatural acts for human entertainment. According to videos that are readily available on the internet, it does so by means of stun guns, sharp hooks, sticks, and other weapons that terrorize the animals into doing their human masters' will. All for a profit, of course. The Oregon Zoo is supposed to be above that. And it isn't. The precise degree of its complicity in the HTWT operation isn't entirely clear at this point, but even if it's as limited as zoo officials would like us to believe, they still have made a deal with the devil. That kind of thing needs to stop.

We think it would be entirely appropriate for Oregonians to boycott the zoo until the contract with HTWT is terminated. Maybe animal rights groups will suggest something like this in the days ahead.

They're running a poll to choose a name for the baby out of five pre-sanitized selections offered by the zoo staff. Screw that. She's not the zoo's property, and so Joe or Jane on the street has as much right to name her as the zoo does. How about "Loaner"? Or as one reader commented here yesterday, given who her owner is, maybe "Bullhook" would be appropriate.

Comments (32)

How about "Shady"?

As in everything around here.

We should go with a metaphorical name for problems we don't want to face.

Let's name it "The Elephant in the Room."

Boycott METRO (especially the Zoo!) --
http://bojack.org/2012/09/boycott_metro.html

Start with no more school field trips to the Zoo. Right teachers, kids, parents? That's right.

"Captive breeding" to ship out sensitive species into the animal slave trade to be tortured into compliance to do tricks for stupid humans? No way!

What a mockery of stewardship the Metro Zoo is.

Save this comment, because here's what's going to happen ...

Tom Hughes will channel his inner Sam Adams and tie the baby to the convention center hotel. He will link some fee/tax associated with the hotel to fund the Zoo's purchase of the baby from Have Bullhook Will Travel.

It's a win-win: We get a convention center hotel and we keep the baby elephant away from the bullwhips.

For some reason, the zoo's behavior reminded me of a scene from the film Drop Dead Gorgeous, where Will Sasso played a particularly, erm, mentally less-well-endowed character. To wit, when he first sees the documentary cameras, he just yells "Are we on 'Cops'? Are we on 'Cops'? Are we on 'Cops'?" over and over. Somehow, I get the strangest impression that when people start getting frog-marched to jail over this, they'll be on their phones, calling family and friends to tell them "We're gonna be on the teevee! Can you tape it for me?"

Poor little Pinata.

There is in place a written contract. Written contracts can not be altered by a verbal "always our intent" or "we plan on" BS. A stud service contract always has either money or offspring rights involved. The people of Portland and the Zoo will need to buyout the contract for all 3 offspring, for how much, that's what is being negotiated now. If I were HTWT, and had the bad press (not from the Oregonian)if true, I think the starting price may be around a cool million.

This is just more evidence of why we should implicitly trust METRO when they start telling us how we need a convention hotel.

I'm betting that the Professionals of Negotiable Affections are lobbying hard for the hotel program. I just don't see how the elephant child slave fits in....

the Zoo will need to buyout the contract for all 3 offspring

No, either party can terminate at any time. But the zoo will definitely have to buy this baby at some point, or else give her up for the circus.

The most surprising thing at all is that nobody at the Zoo had the foresight to imagine that with all the positive press that the story of the baby elephant's impending birth was generating, they might run the risk of this contract being leaked, and thus would need some sort of contingency plan for that eventuality. But, no. Really, really poor administrative work on this one. Hope the VPs over there are updating their resumes...someone's going to get axed over this one.

Everyone should read the 2 part series on Elephants in Zoos that the Seattle Times just published. (No, not the article on the new elephant born.) It's depressing. After reading it I don't think that the Oregon Zoo should have elephants.

http://seattletimes.com/html/nationworld/2019809167_elephants02m.html

http://seattletimes.com/html/nationworld/2019809342_elephants03m.html

Close down the zoo; close down Metro
Keeping animals in "enclosures" in zoos, for the benefit of human entertainment is wrong.
The incompetence, mismanagement, wasted money, time and effort, are just staggering.
It won't happen, unfortunately, but I live in hope!

Million Dollar Baby?

But don't worry about the money. Kim says no public dollars will be spent to buy the calf from the carni-farm.

Well, being an elephant in the wild is no picnic either with the fact that even on game preserves you're likely to shot by African poachers intent selling your tusks to the Chinese(who've now cornered the ivory trade). In 20 years there's a good chance African elephants will be close to extinct in the wild.

"This is not uncommon for an entity like Have Trunk Will Travel to have an animal at the Oregon Zoo and to have breeding loans and have a calf born and not get anything for it," Smith said.

How stupid do they think we are?

How common is it to make a contract with a private company that wants nothing back in return?

Kim Smith should join the circus 'cause she would make a pretty damn good contortionist.

How stupid do they think we are?

If "they" = "Metro" and "we" = "the average voter," the answer is "very."

I'd name her Juliet, because she's caught between two families.

Apparently the public frenzy over baby elephants lasts only as long as they are still small and cute. Once the zoo makes a huge pile of cash off of it the baby they will turn it over to the circus under some kind of pre-text that it's not suitable for zoo captivity. Another possible outcome is that they will compensate the circus by using her big brother Samudra as a breeding stud for one of the circus' females. Things tend to get sleezy when you get involved in a breeding contract with a private entity.

Maybe one of the lawyers here could tell us who is entitled to the Zoo Do proceeds?

"Another possible outcome is that they will compensate the circus by using her big brother Samudra as a breeding stud for one of the circus' females. Things tend to get sleezy when you get involved in a breeding contract with a private entity."

Actually, Samudra said he'd be fine with this arrangement... :)

Chinese don't buy ivory, Japanese do; (also whale blubber).
http://www.elephant.se/How_many_elephants_are_left_on_earth.php
High probability that elephants are extinct in 20 years, also lions and tigers and HALF of ALL Animal SPECIES on EARTH -- pfffft! GONE in 20 years ... not because of poachers. Oh, it's arguable between 20 or 30 or 40 or 50 years -- what's the difference? We agree none are left by the end of our grandchildren's lives, and that our grandchildren's lives end short.

All because you drove your car, with the rest of us; all because none of us and not our electeds (who were keeping it secret, Top Secret you and I are incapable of processing) with the authority and official power never,ever,ever stood up to stop the rape, stop the gluttony, stop the wanton looting of Earth's vaults of oil&gas&coal for private profiteers -- and we know the few, the very few, names of the enriched robbers, and we know we massively outnumber and can stop them -- so to wisely ration our planet's treasures of libertine blessings for ourselves and our human posterity.
Stop Big Oil privateering -- socialize it. Not 'nationalize.' SOCIALIZE. Each living person gets and owns one (equal) share in every Finite Earth Mineral Deposit discovery we decide to exploit for industrial or other quality-of-life processes. No gluttons.
Just today we know who, and where, they/we are; bless us billions every one:
http://www.juancole.com/2012/12/nsa-whistleblower-EVERYONE-IN-US-under-digital-surveillance-TRILLIONS-of-messages-stored.html

I just can't blame singly the zoos and carnies and municipal elected representatives alone for all the wrongs done (in this case). We all have caused this destruction of Earthly blessings and each of us shares blame. ... and The Cause in it, which we each have furthered is: BeCAUSE we prefer the lazy reclusion of ignorance (and nullifying efforted passion) as means of bliss.

Anyway if we each had not driven cars so demonically, had not paved sterile pavement on miles of land, et cetera 'etc.'; instead had availed ourselves of electricity more for work energy, made-on-the-site of our homes and businesses, and avoided orgiastic transport ... then (I might have never left the farm, Jack might have never left New Jersey), zoos and carnies and local government officers would not be today the despicable forms and style we see those are.

Stop me stop me calling ridicule on fellow travelers who brandish crocodile tears for one cute baby elephant's miserable fate at the same time the same travelers on the other hand indulge their ways in ignorance toward causing the deaths of Earth's entire elephant species.

As for the legally binding contractual authority irrevocable of dominion over (every) animal life yadda yadda and do wah ditty: the law is an ass, regretable, rejectable, rescindable; the enforcement of contract on (animate animal) life as property, is voided in proclaiming emancipation of life; and guys who own animals and athletes they bought and paid for today, are absolutely deprived of possessions of such property (i.e., life) by the same instrument as Lincoln freed the slaves to deprive slave-sellers, -buyers, -owners of commerce, trade and property value.
OWNership (legal rights) of manpower and horsepower might have sustained, and been maintained, had not condensed Work (Energy) of the most fullpower been cracked out of petroleum as private advantage; (and petroleum might be as copper minted into shared pennies for all people equally had not bribed legislators sneaked corrupt legislative language in 1935 proclaiming carbon 'oil gas coal' is not a mineral, whereas in reality it is, obviously, petroleum is a mineral).

And to Texas Triffid, this just in: The glamour is gone and now shame is in being on TV or radio; nobody is enthused to be on TV, not even criminal perps, and everyone due to appear(ance) is embarrassed and shuns it. So there are everywhere now 'unnamed sources,' informed voices 'not authorized to speak with the media,' public spokespersons fronting for incompetent leaders, or for indecent celebrities and celebrity indecencies. Workers at broadcast stations hide out, and disguise or disclaim their any involvements ... for the record. These days LarsLarson has no callers, no sponsors, no interns. Say, how 'bout that O.J. and Lohan and Kardashian and tribe of Roger Ailes -- nobody's idolizing no more. Did you see this story?
bojack.org/2012/11/a_surprise_end_to_the_newscast.html

This 'Pachyderm in Peril' story might be used by TV, as is their vengeful pleasure, to bash punishment on specific named humiliated victims of broadcast Terse Vitriol. Or it might be a Canary in the Coal Mine, to show where we're at for us all wising up.

We got the bubble-headed-bleach-blonde / who Comes on at five / She can tell you 'bout the plane crash / with a gleam In her eye / It's interesting when people die - / Give us dirty laundry

Can we film the operation? / Is the head dead yet? /
You know, the boys in the newsroom / got a Running bet /

Well, I coulda been an actor, / but I wound up here /
I just have to look good, / I don't have to be clear /
Come and whisper in my ear /

You don't really need to find out / what's going on /
You don't really want to know just / how far it's gone /
Just leave well enough alone / Eat your dirty laundry

We can do the 'innuendo' / We can dance and sing /
When it's said and done / we haven't told you a thing /

Don Henley

Oops, I hit Post by mistake while I was still Previewing it.

Tenskawtawa, the Chinese has overtaken the Japanese as the main consumers and importers of the ivory trade in the last several years. Likewise, prices have trippled in China.

http://www.cnn.com/2012/09/05/world/africa/africa-ivory-elephant-slaughter/index.html

http://www.cnn.com/2012/09/05/world/africa/africa-ivory-elephant-slaughter/index.html

I am surprised to learn that Tenskawatawa proofreads before posting. That's a lot of proofing.

In today's Oregonian article on the baby elephant fiasco I was struck by two things: 1) The defensiveness of the Oregonian, mentioning repeatedly that they had made some sort of reference to this arrangement in the past and 2) Sharing that the public had to raise money ($30,000 in the 60s) to ransom baby Packy rather than let him be taken away as well. I hate the idea that we've got elephants in an inappropriate and unhealthy environment that will only be minimally better with a few more acres and that we may be repeatly on the hook to pay for elephant babies that don't really belong to us, or else they go to the carnies. And all because the zoo folk are panicked because the incarcerated elephant population in the US is dropping. So if they breed more elephants, what's their ultimate plan? Just keep them in more zoos for people to ogle at? Forgive me if I've missed it but I haven't heard anything about reintroducing them to their native habitat or anyone even talking about the elephants' needs being met. Saddest of all, in an article today someone said that of the elephants sired by Packy, the majority were already dead. Great stewardship, whoever's responsible.

The proof is in the putting. (pun fun!)

Oh, good grief. Most zoo animals are not owned by the zoo in which they reside. That big male crocodile over in the Africa section that's been there for years? Privately owned.

In point of fact, the odds are good that whatever animal you may like to view at a zoo is not, in fact, owned by that organization.

Rose-Tu herself would not be owned by the zoo, but for a quirk of fate: her sire, Hugo, was owned by Ringling and loaned under the same terms as apply with the California owners: the second calf was to have gone to Ringling; Rose-Tu happened to be the first.

What is reprehensible is the fact that Metro Oregon Zoo managers were all over the media in a PR blitz, yet never once mentioned the terms of their contract. Even worse, when the Seattle Times brought it up, the zoo denied that such a contract existed - until the Times stuffed a copy under their noses.

Suddenly, they dropped back and punted: "Uh, yeah, well, it's a valid contract, but we were so certain that the calf would stay here that it never occurred to us to mention it." Yeah, that really squares with the initial denial that the contract existed. But Metro and the media carry along with it; no big deal, just a simple misunderstanding.

Also unreported: the animal "rights" group, IDA (In Defense of Animals) issued a press release calling upon the zoo to cease what they call harmful elephant propagation programs, specifically citing zoo management's record. If Metro, the zoo subsidiary, or any local media have noted the release or responded in any way, it's been well-hidden.

Granted, IDA are hysterical, self-serving nuts - but they do have donors, support, and debatable points. It seems odd that there might be a coordinated effort to keep a tight lid on their complaints.

As for reintroduction efforts regarding elephants: that's a noble concept, but for those who've not been paying attention to date, it may come as a surprise to learn that there is no "wild" to return them into.

What's behind door #1? Captive propagation and improved management.

What's behind door #2? Extinction.

Your call.

Carnival shows, stun guns, bullhooks, beatings, and lack of room to move are not necessary to your first option. But that's what these creepy carnies and their fellow money-makers at the Oregon Zoo are about.

Nice to hear from you, though -- someone who knows everything.

Even worse, when the Seattle Times brought it up, the zoo denied that such a contract existed - until the Times stuffed a copy under their noses.

Maybe the Seattle Times ought to do a story on Hayden Island.

And maybe it turns out that Hayden Island is really in Washington, too. Uh-oh.

"Stun guns"? Have you discovered something that nobody else knows about? That would be most interesting.

Perhaps you're aware that, following an invited talk at an international conference of marine animal trainers in which a representative from what is now Metro Oregon Zoo discussed training elephants by capturing behavior and employing operant conditioning, participants expressed amazement that such techniques were being successfully implemented at the zoo?

No beatings, no "stun guns", and no shows.

If you have information to the contrary, I have no doubt that readers here would find it informative.


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Niccolò Machiavelli - The Prince
Harper Lee - To Kill a Mockingbird
Emma McLaughlin & Nicola Kraus - The Nanny Diaries
Brian Selznick - The Invention of Hugo Cabret
Sharon Creech - Walk Two Moons
Keith Richards - Life
F. Sionil Jose - Dusk
Natalie Babbitt - Tuck Everlasting
Justin Halpern - S#*t My Dad Says
Mark Herrmann - The Curmudgeon's Guide to Practicing Law
Barry Glassner - The Gospel of Food
Phil Stanford - The Peyton-Allan Files
Jesse Katz - The Opposite Field
Evelyn Waugh - Brideshead Revisited
J.K. Rowling - Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
David Sedaris - Holidays on Ice
Donald Miller - A Million Miles in a Thousand Years
Mitch Albom - Have a Little Faith
C.S. Lewis - The Magician's Nephew
F. Scott Fitzgerald - The Great Gatsby
William Shakespeare - A Midsummer Night's Dream
Ivan Doig - Bucking the Sun
Penda Diakité - I Lost My Tooth in Africa
Grace Lin - The Year of the Rat
Oscar Hijuelos - Mr. Ives' Christmas
Madeline L'Engle - A Wrinkle in Time
Steven Hart - The Last Three Miles
David Sedaris - Me Talk Pretty One Day
Karen Armstrong - The Spiral Staircase
Charles Larson - The Portland Murders
Adrian Wojnarowski - The Miracle of St. Anthony
William H. Colby - Long Goodbye
Steven D. Stark - Meet the Beatles
Phil Stanford - Portland Confidential
Rick Moody - Garden State
Jonathan Schwartz - All in Good Time
David Sedaris - Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim
Anthony Holden - Big Deal
Robert J. Spitzer - The Spirit of Leadership
James McManus - Positively Fifth Street
Jeff Noon - Vurt

Road Work

Miles run year to date: 276
At this date last year: 125
Total run in 2013: 257
In 2012: 129
In 2011: 113
In 2010: 125
In 2009: 67
In 2008: 28
In 2007: 113
In 2006: 100
In 2005: 149
In 2004: 204
In 2003: 269


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