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Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Metro can't even get the elephants right

That newborn baby elephant that everybody's fussing over at the Portland zoo (parking: $5.00) belongs to a private carnival outfit:

Oregon Zoo officials quietly cut a deal to give up the second, fourth and sixth offspring between Rose-Tu, owned by the zoo, and Tusko, a prolific male owned by Have Trunk Will Travel... a controversial traveling elephant show that rents out pachyderms to the entertainment industry, stages circuslike events and offers elephant rides at $500 an hour.... Last week's birth was the second offspring between the pair.

The Times' discovery of the breeding contract highlights the dark side of elephant captivity, in which zoos are desperate to breed more elephants at any cost.

Metro government, which runs the zoo, has gone into major damage control mode, and the bureaucrats say that the calf will likely get to stay in Portland. But you have to wonder how much the area's taxpayers are going to have to pay the carnies to buy her. It will be interesting to watch worthless Metro prez Tom Hughes and overpaid flack Jim Middaugh try to squirm their way out of this one. It's truly disgusting.

Making it perfectly Portland, the story was broken by the Seattle Times. Portland media's hard-hitting coverage consisted of "Oooh, look, a baby elephant!" Now they'll probably spin it to try to make it look like nothing.

In any event, way to go, Metro! Maybe they can compromise and have the baby elephant do tricks for peanuts in the lobby of the Convention Center hotel.

UPDATE, 8:21 a.m.: Here's a video of elephant "training" at Have Trunk Will Travel. A baby elephant gets the treatment starting at about 6:20. Watch at 6:40 as they stick a sharp bullhook in the baby's mouth a few times to show him or her who's boss. We'd like to take one of those to the clowns at Metro who are responsible for this complete and utter fiasco.

And this is when they knew the camera was on. You can imagine what happens when nobody else is around. Shame on Metro!

Comments (58)

If it matters to Oregonians it's first reported by someone, somewhere else! But hey, you can't beat the Oregon media for great follow up, uh, sorry.

"Making it perfectly Portland, the story was broken by the Seattle Times. Portland media's hard-hitting coverage consisted of "Oooh, look, a baby elephant!"

So perfectly sad. Portland has become the mentally challenged step child of cities. Portland's civic leadership, economy and media all paint the picture of a mentally disturbed adolescent city. What is worse is that many Portlanders feel that these incidences actually make Portland look good, not foolish.

Have Truck Will Travel, the actual owner of the new calf has had many run ins with Animal Rights groups. This video of training at HTWT is hard to watch. what a life for this new baby.

Notice that Metro's spokeswoman LIED and denied the existence of any contract...probably figured the Seattle Times would be as lazy as the Oregon media and not double check her comments....

That contract is horrible. There's no minority hiring clause!

It's NOT the Oregonian's fault they were scooped AGAIN. And again it's an out of state paper that does actual REPORTING.

NO GOVERNMENT agency sent them a press release about the contract that the "O" could cut, paste and slap an intern's By Line on it.

And everyone knows that's the source of most of the "NEWS" content in "Oregon's Number one daily paper".

They didn't include a minority hiring clause Jack cuz the contract was very truncated....

Getting scooped by other media organizations is nothing new for the O. Wasn't there a bumpersticker that popped up during the Packwood scandal that said something like "If it matters to Oregonians, it's in the New York Times"?

Washington Post.

This is just awful!
One more example of a bad bargin, extremely poor management, and a deal with the devil.
I couldn't watch the whole video. It brought back my childhood nightmares after seeing the Disney movie Dumbo!
Tese are beautiful and heighly intelligent animals who should be respected and cared for, not used for our purient temporary amusement.

For the zoo to get in bed with creeps like these makes me think that maybe we ought to start gradually shutting the whole zoo operation down.

Great! The Zoo is now a puppy mill, or should that be packy mill?

Utterly disgusting - not only in selling off animals but lying about it because they know it's wrong.

I'm not sure anyone consciously lied. The flack they sent out to talk to the Seattle reporter probably didn't know anything.

Here's what's really curious to me: Given that this is one of the most closely watched animals in the world, it's unlikely that Metro thought it could sneak it away to California without anybody noticing. Maybe the zoo geniuses just thought "We'll cross that bridge when we get to it." Well, now they've gotten to it.

What an awful message to send to Portland's kids. Somebody's head needs to roll -- a human head, that is.

Ahhh, Metro and its various components.

Transparency, openness, trust in the taxpayers.

Refusals by staff to lie to he public.
The good sense of the PR flack and zoo director to immediately "come clean" when unpleasant, embarrassing actions of the agency come to light.

It is, as someone else said, all so perfectly Portland.

In the great scheme of things who owns an elephant is so minor and silly when compared to bond issues for the mystery train, or he east side streetcar, or the reservoir project.

And ye is all the same - he governmen class in he area's first instinct is to initially hide and obfuscate facts. When caughht, hey claim the whistle blower is wrong. In he end, they have to admit the scam hey concocted.

It would almost be better if it were a vast conspiracy (Thanks, Hillary)but instead is just a mind set, an attitude, that he governing clas can do anyhing it wants and the public needs to mind its own business.

So truly sad how that mind set, over the last 40 years, has destroyed any reason he public would have for trust of, or faith in, any governmental agency.

So perfectly, typically, Portland.

And Metro is about o ask us for hundreds of millions more in bond dollars to do just what, again?

Gee, I'm feeling real receptive righ now to any Metro request or "explanation" about giving Metro more of my Social Security money, in the form of higher real estate taxes, to play with.

This whole issue is disgusting. Why would the zoo enter into this type of contract with this horrible traveling elephant company?

Just finished watching the news conference and all I have to say is that the Zoo Director Kim Smith came off very poorly and I'm thinking she was a poor hire last year. Seems like the ownership issue is spelled out very clearly in the contract, and now the Zoo is talking about "good faith" and other crazy nonsense that isn't on paper.

Ownership is ownership. The sadists in the California can take her after 30 days if they want her. And they have Metro by the short hairs, because the Portland public won't let her go. As I say, this will probably get expensive for the taxpayers. We're about to buy a very spendy new pet.

We all know that if it ain't in writing it doesn't exist!
And that lady from the traveling circus who just "wants to hug" the new baby that before or after she painfully twists the new baby's trunk, smacks her with a stick and the shoves the hook in her mouth!?
The human heads should roll over this and soon!
I would rather give money for the buy out of this baby and then stop! any further efforts for more breeding of Tusko.
Sorry about the earlier typos...I am SO angry! about this!

Perhaps this turn of events will help the community do the right thing. Its time to close the zoo.

Public-private partnership! It has to be good, right? You told us those were always good, oh Government.

Winner of the naming contest: Enronna

This event may make the proposed new elephant enclosure and demo of the zoo train a bit awkward.

"Maybe they can compromise and have the baby elephant do tricks for peanuts in the lobby of the Convention Center hotel."

Come see the elephant at the White Elephant?

Metro's demonstration of massive incompetence on this one might be funny if it wasn't so sad and pathetic.

More than just being scooped, the O inadvertently highlighted their poor news gathering and writing.

From the link in Jack's post: "It's always been possible, but it is extraordinarily unlikely, zoo officials told The Oregonian's Katy Muldoon."

In the Muldoon story that exact statement was hanging in the middle without attribution as if it was from Muldoon herself. Maybe next week the O will lay the blame for an erroneous article on the agency issuing the story, er press release.

The zoo's celebrated breeding program is feedstock for a sadistic, inhumane industry whose product ought to be beyond the pale in a civilized society. It's infuriating that we are all culpable via Metro, and that the public bought Metro's pitch to turn a hellhole of a habitat into a mere hopelessly inadequate one.

I'd pitch in a couple of thousand bucks toward buying the baby, but only if it and Rose-Tu are sent to Tennessee or another appropriately huge facility to live out their lives in relative peace and comfort.

Name the baby Pinata.

Jack's comment about how this mistake "will get expensive for taxpayers" will hold true. It's like how TriMet gave $10 Million to OHSU's being-built Collaborative Building in SoWhat. Hard to see a connection there to dibble out the money when TriMet is broke.

Metro will likewise find a way to find a connection.

If I were the California company, I'd demand $20 million. Because there's no way -- no way on earth -- that Metro can let her go now.

If money must be raised to buy it, Mayor Creepy seems to be in a creative mood. $5 facial hair tax? That might get it done.

Too bad Metro can't ask Enron to buy the Zoo a another baby elephant.

Who has the naming rights? The Zoo or the carnie people?

Time for Tusko to have a vasectomy.

Perhaps this turn of events will help the community do the right thing. Its time to close the zoo.

You know, this is probably one outcome that would unite the city:

The Democrats, led by the environmental caucus, would see this as returning animals to their natural habitat.

The Republicans, led by the fiscal conservatives, would see the zoo as an unnecessary government enterprise that costs millions in subsidies that aren't going towards basic services.

It would have my vote.

I guess if you don't like it you can always give more money to the Zoo so they don't need to make contracts like this.

I can't wait to read the transcript of that Zoo press conference.

I'm going to count the number of times the phrase, "... the matriarchal herd..." was mentioned.

I thought she was referring to of some recent local political subdivisions.

Well, if any of you were paying attention back in 2005 when Tusko came to the zoo, this wouldn't come as a surprise. There had to be some kind of a deal to bring in a breeding male elephant, you don't exactly pick them up at a pet store.

Just wait until Sam grows up and is loaned out to another zoo for breeding. Will there be an uproar because he's not longer "cute"?

Loaning out animals is common between zoos. The OZ went to a private party in this case based upon the gene pool.

Why would the zoo have us vote on naming the elephant if they knew they might not keep it?

Somebody at the zoo knew this contract existed, so why the charade about the "city's" new pachy?

"8. In the event of Owner's intention to sell, trade, or otherwise dispose of Tusko, and/or the Owner Offspring, the Receipient shall be aforded the first right of refusal."

I believe the Oregon Zoo has the right to acquire the calf, but that right of first refusal has nothing to do with the 30 day viability clause. The "Trunk will Travel" folks already own this calf, but their ownership isn't perfected until the calf is 30 days old.

May I start the bidding at $250,000?

Why do I get the feeling that Metro will use some kind of political judo with this to roll out a new tax proposal?

We have to save Rose-Tu's 2nd, 4th and 6th offspring from being sold into circus slavery. For just the price of just one latte per year, we can prevent this (pre-engineered) injustice.

Just four years ago, METRO convinced voters to approve new taxes for the elephants - passed by 60%. Who really wants to see the tens of millions poured into the elephant facilities go to waste just because some METRO bureaucrat made a contract with the devil and forgot to read the fine print.

Get ready for the Ransom Tax.

Emancipating all three $500/hr novelty ride elephants is the right thing to do.

Ownership is ownership. The sadists in the California can take her after 30 days if they want her.

Actually, they can't. Ownership does not equal possession, and per the contract, they cannot take possession of the animal unless/until she reaches four years of age - during which time, zoo attendance is anticipated to spike.

This event may make the proposed new elephant enclosure and demo of the zoo train a bit awkward.

Not likely - you voted for the bond measure, and they have the money. Plans for expansion are underway, and as someone here noted, the train is not scheduled for demolition - but will be re-routed.

Included in the bond measure were funds to build an off-site elephant compound of several hundred acres. Metro will undoubtedly give one of their "natural areas" (purchased with bond money you approved) to the cause. However, if they build it, there will be no money for operations. Expect Metro/Zoo to return with another measure for that purpose.

I agree with Cary and Erik H. Close down the zoo, and send the elephants to the sanctuary in Tennessee. The rest of the animals can be sent to San Diego or some other appropriate place.
Portlandia doesn't need a zoo! Especially this 5th rate facility, operated by incompetents at vast expense to the taxpayers.
Now if only we could palm off the trolley cars to "trolley world".

Shut down the zoo. And, while we're at it, shut down Metro.

Yes, shut down the zoo. But while we're at it, shut down all the establishments that commercialize animals. Sorry, people, but the difference between this baby elephant and the slaughtered cow on your dinner plate tonight, which you'll eat while discussing this news story with your kids, is only a matter of degree. Sorry to be such a humbug, but I don't deal well with hypocrisy. [And should anyone respond to this, don't nutter on about entertainment vs nutrition. You'll only be fooling yourself.]

Yo, Alice, wear leather shoes?

Alice, dont forget the chickens, turkeys, pigs, and assorted other commercially raised meat.
Factory farms are disgusting, cruel places.
And I am a meat eater. But I know where my meat comes from in virtually all cases. Most people don't have a clue where there food originates, or how it is processed.
And don't even get me started on "farmed salmon".
And YES! shut down METRO too!

Shut down Portland.

Portland already is shut down, or haven't you noticed!

Tons of Portland hate. It was great when I was 20!

"Oregon Zoo Director Kim Smith said on Tuesday that the baby elephant will not leave the zoo."
Yup. It will leave when it turns four years old.
Is it a pre-requisite for leadership positions in local government that you have to be ethically challenged, or is the lobotomy part of the welcome package? Allowing misconceptions to flourish and spread IS lying. There are sins of omission.

JO: "Tons of Portland hate. It was great when I was 20!"

Of course it was, back in the 1950's!!! But for 80 year olds, Portland sucks bigtime!!

Portland sucks for even young wipper-snappers in their 40's.

Hence all the "hate".

per the contract, they cannot take possession of the animal unless/until she reaches four years of age

Are we reading the same contract? Where does it say that?

Besides, either party can terminate the contract, at which point presumably HTWT gets its property back.

Where is the Metro Council on this issue? Do they get a free pass while the Zoo Director takes all the flak?

Jack Marks would be shocked at how such good intentions can end up having quite the opposite of the intended effect.

Mr. Marks lived in a different age. The age of zoo keys and "all the animals in the zoo are jumping up and down for you!" I remember interviewing him when I was in high school. Attendance at the zoo was way down at that time (in the 70s) and he joked bitterly that Sally Rand could be on exhibit without her bubble and still nobody would pay to get in.

As a kid, I loved zoos. Fortunately as an adult I now know better. I do not, can not and will not ever support a zoo because while they hide under the disguise of education, conservation and breeding, it really is not about that at all.

If you want to see an elephant, go on a safari. Once you see any of these amazing creatures in the wild, it will break your heart to see them in captivity. It certainly breaks their hearts and souls.

I've been urging boycotting the Metro Portland Zoo for months here.

Name the dear baby elephant: "Bullhook."

"The rest of the animals can be sent to San Diego or some other appropriate place.

Portlandia doesn't need a zoo! Especially this 5th rate facility, operated by incompetents at vast expense to the taxpayers."

Have you ever even been to most of the San Diego zoo? Half of the animals have no more space in their exhbibits(if not less) than they would have at the Oregon Zoo.

Actually I was thinking more in trems of the wild animal park.
At least the weather is better there.


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