Captive elephants at the Oregon Zoo have a famous ally fighting for them: comedian, Lily Tomlin. Encouraged by the group, Free the Oregon Zoo Elephants, Tomlin penned a letter to zoo director, Kim Smith, encouraging the zoo to retire its elephants, one named Packy in particular, to a sanctuary.
“For 51 years,” Tomlin wrote, “Packy has entertained the people of Oregon. Now, it is time for him to retire to an appropriate sanctuary, where he can roam freely on many acres of land.”
The comedian reminds them that ”the zoo initiated a bond measure in 2008 to create an offsite multi-acre preserve for the elephants. The voters overwhelmingly supported the measure. This preserve was meant to be used as a retirement home for the elephants. I urge you to maintain that original mission.”
Unfortunately, the language used in that bond measure doesn’t promise anything. At that time, the zoo pledged that some money from the $125M bond would be used for a feasibility study for a potential off-site elephant center, giving their elephants more room. In June, the zoo broke ground on another bond-funded project, “Elephant Lands,” a $53 million, 6.25-acre elephant exhibit, expected to open in 2015.
Hopefully these reminders from Free the Oregon Zoo Elephants, In Defense of Animals (another activist group involved in the mission), and Lily Tomlin will get the gears turning for a much-needed break for these captive elephants.
Photo credit: Helga Esteb / Shutterstock.com
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