by Amanda Just
Categories: Animals, Causes
Tags: .

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 /

Related on Ecorazzi:

+Sarah Silverman Hopes L.A. Will Vote for Elephants’ Sake

+African Elephants May Be Extinct ‘Within 12 Years’

+Elephants in India Mourn, Retaliate After Deadly Train Incident

+Bob Barker and Lily Tomlin Team Up To Save Billy the Elephant

About Amanda Just

Amanda Just is a longtime vegan who loves to promote compassionate living in fun, creative ways. As a writer, she has contributed to This Dish Is Veg,, and many other blogs, websites, and newsletters. As an activist, she champions many causes, from veganism and animal rights to environmental protection and human rights. Amanda resides in Tampa Bay, Florida.

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  • Courtney Scott

    Thank you Amanda. And special thanks to Lily Tomlin for her help with our efforts to free Packy and the elephants to sanctuary. What happened with the bond measure is the zoo and Metro promised that the preserve would be a reality, then once the bond passed, and citing the vague language of the bond, it has changed the name from preserve to “remote elephant center” which we now know will be used to breed more elephants into captivity. Please like Free the Oregon Zoo Elephants on FB so we can build grassroots support to end the suffering of the zoo’s 8 elephants, starting with Packy.