Help send Watoto to a sanctuary–not another zoo

Watoto is one of the three elephants–and the only African elephant–at Seattle’s Woodland Park Zoo. Over forty years ago, as an infant in Kenya, she was captured, torn away from her mother and family, and brought to the US.


So today, about 70 people, organized by Friends of Woodland Park Zoo Elephants, filed into the Seattle City Council meeting to represent Watoto and ask that the council send her to a sanctuary.

All elephants at the Woodland Park Zoo (the others being Bamboo and Chai) languish in a small enclosure–about an acre in size. That acre is subdivided to keep Watoto apart from the other elephants (they don’t get along). And for over half the year, because of Seattle’s cold, damp climate, the elephants spend 16-17 hours a day indoors.

For large, migratory animals used to traveling great distances, this is a cruel arrangement.

Friends of Woodland Park Zoo Elephants is working hard to have the three elephants retired to a sanctuary. However, Watoto’s situation is urgent: The zoo intends to send her to a different, impoverished zoo!

Watoto is lame, broken and aging. She deserves to live out her days at a place like PAWS or The Elephant Sanctuary.

The Council didn’t let us speak up for Watoto, but our presence–and our shirts–spoke volumes. We will try again. Watoto depends on us.

How to Help

Please take a few minutes to email the Seattle City Council and Mayor Ed Murray. Simply say, “Send Watoto to a Sanctuary” or include these points:

  • A super majority of citizens want the elephants retired to a sanctuary.
  • Since the zoo is moving Watoto, we’re asking that the Zoo honor our values and send her to a sanctuary.
  • Studies have shown that keeping elephants in zoos serves no measurable conservation or educational purpose.
  • Woodland Park Zoo has received $100 million taxpayer dollars from the City and King County since 2002 making the welfare of Watoto all of our responsibility.
  • Twenty-seven zoos have closed or will close their elephant exhibits; let us join those progressive enlightened Zoos.


Tweet: @Mayor_Ed_Murray   @SeattleCouncil   @woodlandparkzoo


July 14/2014 update

We made the news this evening!

August 23rd update

Watoto was found dead in her cage. RIP Watoto. This tragedy highlights how unsuited elephants are for zoos and reinforces the importance of sanctuary.