Elephant struggles to adjust to Oklahoma zoo
Wed., Aug. 24, 2016
SEATTLE – An elephant transferred last year from a Seattle zoo to an Oklahoma city zoo has been bitten by her new herd members, including one bite to her tail described as an “amputation” that severed its tip, according to zoo records obtained by a group that opposed the elephant’s transfer.
Officials hoped that the elephant named Bamboo would become the matriarch of the clan at Oklahoma City Zoo after she was transferred last year, the Seattle Times reported Tuesday.
They also thought another elephant named Chai and transferred from Seattle’s Woodland Park Zoo to Oklahoma City would be like an aunt to Oklahoma’s young elephants.
But one of Oklahoma’s baby elephants died from a viral infection – likely transferred to her by Chai – and Chai herself later collapsed and died from an infection and emaciation, according to the documents cited by The Seattle Times.
The zoo records released Tuesday by the nonprofit group Friends of Woodland Park Zoo Elephants show that Bamboo has attacked and been attacked by elephants at her new home.
The records state the bite to Bamboo’s tail took months to heal. In other incidents, a female elephant chased and pushed Bamboo and Bamboo charged a 20-month-old female, shoving her under electrical wire surrounding the elephants’ compound.
Oklahoma City Zoo spokeswoman Candice Rennels said the incidents are a normal part of establishing dominance hierarchy in a new herd.
“Bamboo is doing great,” Rennels wrote in an emailed statement to the Seattle Times. “Though she is not the matriarch of the herd, she is integrating well with the other elephants. She is not being harassed or bullied.”
Alyne Fortgang, co-founder of Friends of Woodland Park Zoo Elephants, and animal welfare advocate and University of Central Oklahoma professor Kurt Hochenauer said the zoo should “retire” the 49-year-old Bamboo to one of two elephant sanctuaries in the United States.
“We are not going to stop until Bamboo can rest in peace and live out her golden years in a humane way, not being bullied and chased by other animals and living in a tiny zoo yard,” said Fortgang.
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