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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on December 5, 2012 1:39 PM. The previous post in this blog was Fuku fish still mighty hot. The next post in this blog is Good news and bad news. Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.



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Wednesday, December 5, 2012

No more elephants

The more you read, the easier it is to realize that elephants don't belong in zoos. Rather than building more space for them, the Oregon Zoo ought to think about starting to send its pachyderms to sanctuaries. Or at least stop bringing more victims into the fold.

Elephant exhibits are so 1950. They're hell for the animals. Let's make this the last baby elephant born in Portland.

Comments (27)

I couldn't agree more. Elephants are remarkably intelligent animals. They need to be able to roam and socialize. In most zoos they're confined and sometimes chained during their long life spans.

The Oregonian did once carry a rather different take on this story.

So 1850, you mean!


The elephants form one of the most popular features of the '' Zoo". "Men are but children of a larger growth,'' and those who ride on the lordly beasts' backs are by no means only little ones, as our illustration of a characteristic scene in the Gardens on a summer s day shows very clearly. The elephants live in the northern portion of the Gardens, between the Regent's Canal and the Outer Circle, and behind their house is the pond where they bathe when the weather is warm, to the infinite enjoyment of bystanders. But the ponderous creatures come through the tunnel to take their walks abroad in the leafy neighbourhood of the eagles' avaries. One of the Indian elephants now in the Gardens is only a few inches shorter than the much-lamented Jumbo.


How about no more zoos? At least publically owned and operated ones.

The sad fact of the matter is that the elephants, especially baby elephants, are huge money makers for the zoo. It's highly unlikely that they will cure themselves of their addiction to the money flow that these poor creatures bring them any time soon. I vote for shutting down all zoos because there is nothing more pathetic/sad than seeing a wild creature in a cage.

How about no more Metro?

It could be worse ...

Wow, an aerial tram, an elephant, and a crane. How perfectly Portland.

Yikes, what a horrible photo! Glad to learn that while the photo is a fake the situation did happen and the poor animal was uninjured.

I've got Sam's new gig! He can do hourly shows where he rides an elephant as it jumps from the tram into a large pool of water. Fireman Randy can sell the tickets!

A few years ago, I went to the zoo in Lincoln Park in Chicago. It was in the fall, so I'm not sure if I didn't see the full expanse of the place given the weather, but there was an interior big cat "cage" with a panther (or leopard) pacing back and forth in the same pattern for minutes at a time in a seemingly tiny enclosure. It was depressing to see something so majestic confined like that and swore it would be the last time I'd visit a zoo.

I also saw this one armed monkey swinging from one of the higher ropes actually pee on another monkey below.

I have been so upset about this whole topic I haven't been able to write. It's just sickening. Maybe it's just my soft spot for elephants but this really hit a nerve.
I have always loathed zoos and this just confirms everything I already knew.
The zoo needs to go away and METRO needs to be done away with while we at it.

I don't often agree with this blog's perspective, but I think you're exactly right on this issue. And I appreciate your thoughtful coverage of it.

One thing that zoos do very well is introduce exotic and native animals to the public which results in the caring for elephants you see today. Portland has an association with elephants that goes back 50 years or more, and many children are more knowledgable about the animal and their circumstances in Asia because of it. You have to get people to care about something before they will invest energy and money to do something about it. Zoos bring the animals to the people and can help develop that caring.

As. To whether or not the Oregon zoo is a good place, I don't know. But Metro is due for extinction.

Jack: If you really want to pour cold water on the zoo, use your skills to post their payroll and fringe budget from the top down. Cascade Policy Institute got the entire payroll breakdown for Portland Schools a few years ago which showed the top heavy admin jobs having NOTHING to do with students.

My guess is MOST of the top salaries have NOTHING to do with animal care. Even the janitors at the zoo probably make 3x that of a janitor in private sector.

"METRO...the government that brings the zoo to YOU". (Except we had a zoo WAY before METRO).

It always seems to be all about the money!
Baby elephants raise attendance and generate cash, at the zoo or at the circus....same same.
I feel sorry for the polar bears, and the penguins and the other cold climate creatures out of their native environments too.
As for education and making people aware of other creatures endangered by man, we are doing a great job of that with stories such as this one.
Zoos are a 19th century attraction and should be abolished. We are now well into the 21st century. The abolition of zoos is something the public can demand and it can be achieved here. Then maybe we can all work on the wars, poaching, and climate change that endanger the animals left in the wild around the world.

I agree with Jack, no more baby elephants, and phasing out of zoos period. Check out PAWS here on the west coast in Northern California, they are a great sanctuary and do a lot of work with animals rescued from entertainment venues.

I can understand your argument. But these sanctuaries have much less funding than a zoo. The zoos make big bucks, thus providing care and continuing the populations. They also bring awareness to the public. Should we just euthanize them all then, and say "no more?"

No, R. Of course not. I say just lay them off. The zoo administrators can go bureaucratize somewhere else.

You have to start somewhere. Let's start phasing out. No more baby elephants. Terminate the HTWT contract -- Metro has the right to do that without penalty.

Elephants, the largest land animals on the planet, are among the most exuberantly expressive of creatures. Joy, anger, grief, compassion, love; the finest emotions reside within these hulking masses. Through years of research, scientists have found that elephants are capable of complex thought and deep feeling. In fact, the emotional attachment elephants form toward family members may rival our own.

Back when all we had was Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom, an urban zoo made some sense. Or not, at least to me. Now, with live cameras available to instruct and inform 24/7 on animals in their natural habitats, the urban zoo no longer makes sense. Close 'em down.

Didn't Vancouver, BC shut down their zoo?

And don't they have a really cool SkyTrain, that's driverless and expanded multiple times?

Aren't they an international destination, home to Expo 86 (a World's Fair) AND the Winter Olympics?

Vancouver, BC is also about the same size as Portland.

Yet...Vancouver is going forward, and Portland is...driverless, rudderless, and just plain inept at doing anything.

I'd move to Vancouver, but Canadian immigration laws are pretty strict. In Portland, we welcome anyone who can fog a mirror. The lack of income and investment skill is actually a desirable trait for new residents.

Amen on the zoo elimination. I'm for sancturies not just for elephants, but big cats, canids, avian species, and even the monkeys and apes. If you want to see wild animals, go to the wild to see them.

Then, I think we should open the state and county prisons to the general public to come and oogle at the inmates....uh, animals.

I feel sorry for the polar bears, and the penguins and the other cold climate creatures out of their native environments too.

Polar bears fit the picture of an animal that doesn't do well in zoos. Moreover, they aren't endangered.

Penguins are not by any means all "cold climate creatures" - many, like the Humboldt, are tropical, and can actually thrive in zoos, behaviorally and biologically, if maintained in controlled environments that severely restrict exposure to mainland bacteria.

Elephants are incredibly problematic, and for several reasons: zoos did not understand the matriarchal structure of the herds - and its importance in passing down information. This is why first-time mothers, such as Rose-Tu, often attack their newborn offspring (as occurred with her first calf); they've never seen one before, and lack the experience generated during several years of herd life.

Additionally, people often assume that elephants require a great deal of space, which would be the case in a wild scenario, where they have to travel great distances to keep body and soul together.

In captivity, food and water is generally plentiful, which generates an entirely different set of issues: elephants aren't people. They don't jog, or run for fun (when they run, the phenomenon is referred to as a stampede). Thus, they can be given four or six acres of land - but the issue becomes one of finding ways to get them to use it. Certainly, where hundreds of acres are available, some animals will explore on their own. Others will hang closer to the barn. These are aspects that go unmentioned in sanctuaries such as Hohenwald, but they occur nonetheless.

C'mon Erik H., Vancouver BC is basically just a bigger and more expensive and yuppie version of the Pearl District with all the homeless and crackheads stuffed into an even more ghetto version of Old Town/Skid Row on the lower eastside. They don't even have a highway through downtown, along with even more restrictive parking measures in place. You really think that sort of thing is going to fly on here? :)

And yeah, they did close their tiny zoo in Stanley Park in the 90s--now everyone just goes to a zoo to the east of Vancouver that's been in the news the last few years for animal deaths. As to what what happened to some of the "retired" zoo animals:

And yeah, they did close their tiny zoo in Stanley Park in the 90s-

Vancouver Public Aquarium's still there, Beluga whales and all.


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