By Michael Mountain
It’s a dark tale of rape, incest, torture and cover-up: A female elephant artificially inseminated at least 112 times; a male elephant forced to breed with his own daughter; elephants beaten into submission as they’re forced to breed, and all of it taking place behind a façade of caring, conservation and education.
These were just a few of the facts revealed by a devastating investigation of Seattle’s Woodland Park Zoo last year by the Seattle Times.
The investigation led to pressure on the zoo to put together an independent panel that would review the situation for the zoo’s three elephants, Chai, Bamboo and Watoto, and to provide recommendations for the future of the elephant "exhibit."
The panel’s report concludes that the zoo provides excellent care. The two overall options it presents for the future of the exhibit are:
- the three elephants be kept at the zoo until they die, following which the elephant program be retired, or
- that more elephants be bred at the zoo to keep the program going.
The reasons the recommendations are no surprise begin with the fact that five of the people on the 14-member "independent" panel, including its chairperson, are present or past members of the zoo’s board. More....