Warning-long post....about OKC Zoo and elephants :-)
Is anyone else flabbergasted with Seattle and the people who are angry with the Woodland Park Zoo right now and their anger that the elephants that they could not take care of are coming to the OKC Zoo? The main activist in this is part of the group called "Friends of the Woodland Park Zoo Elephants" Edited: Here is a Facebook page of the group that I have now posted on, wondering if they have ever been to the OKC Zoo that they claim is so bad. They have yet to respond but were quick to point out their fact list of why OKC Zoo is so bad, which I already addressed said facts in this post. I suppose they only want to read articles and subsequently share them on their Facebook page, that are totally against all zoos all together. So tell me, if GOOD zoo's are not allowed to exist because of the bad ones, where are all of the animals going to go now they they have been born and raised in captivity and have no knowledge of how to live in their natural environment...not to mention many Zoo animals do not have natural habitats anymore. I also wonder if any of them supported the "Crocodile Hunter" aka Steve Irwin. Do they know that the Irwin family owns a huge conservation Zoo in Australia that is doing marvelous things for conservation (like the OKC Zoo)? Is that Zoo an "OK" zoo because it is owned by a famous family? Or do they stick to their all zoo's are bad? They are hell bent on keeping "their" elephants from coming to OKC, because they "care so much." I wonder where those friends were when the previous two elephants died...(I will get to that in a minute). Even Peta piped in (in a shocking-particularly uneducated way!). They would rather the elephants go to a sanctuary that has one very large roaming area. That area does not have a barn/enclosure. The heard that is already in that sanctuary there has tuberculosis. And that sanctuary cannot afford to build one! But to Peta and many people of Seattle this is what is best for elephants that they have not cared about before....keep reading and you will understand why I say that.
If the elephants from Seattle would go to the California sanctuary, that is full of TB and doesn't have a Barn or second "field." They would have to be quarantined but they have no where to do that. On top of that they said the second best place would be the sanctuary in TN that is not even sure of it's own future! So all of these people are raising arms and even having their children "pray for the poor elephants" that are going to one of the most state of the art Elephant facilities in the country, OKC ZOO and Botanical Gardens.
These people that care so much did not care about the atrocities that occurred while these elephants were in the Zoo in Seattle. You see, originally they were a herd of 4. But they euthanized an older (but younger than OKC's oldest elephant) because it could not stand up one day. After much searching I can find no information stating that there was no fight for it or alternative options evaluated with zoologists or elephant veterinary specialists. THEN, as if that wasn't enough, their 6 year old elephants died from an UNKNOWN fatal case of herpes. They found out how she died after the fact. In the Oklahoma City Zoo and Botanical Garden (the supposed worst possible place for these precious girls) the elephant staff do preventative care and regular check ups of the heard of 5 (a new baby was born a few months ago!!!). NOT ONCE have any of the elephants been sick in their care (at least since they have created the new elephant enclosures). The arguments are that the elephants cannot roam and do not have as much space per elephant as they do in Seattle. Well when you calculate space based off of half of your herd of course it will be more space. I will mention what their enclosure looks like in a moment. When it comes to space...These elephants have always been zoo animals and elephants are very social and emotional animals. They are healthiest when kept in the lifestyle that the are use to. And they are endangered animals and need conservation and proper MEDICAL CARE!
One of the factors that is so important for these two elephants is one is younger and one is older. They are bonded and elephant bonds are so intense that elephants that have outlived their love have been known to literally not move, or eat, and sink into a depression and then starve themselves to death because they are in such mourning! One of the biggest arguments from the Seattle and Peta people that hate the OKC decision enough to take it to court (court over turned their arguments and said that OKC is great for them) is that OKC zoo has an elephant show where the elephants "perform." I don't know about any of you but I have seen the elephants "perform" on their playground (part of their grounds where they roam) without a single trainer/handler in or around their pen. I have also had the show go on without the elephant because the elephant wasn't in the mood! The show is an educational display to teach the conservation that OKC ZOO is doing! As well as to teach children and adults alike about the amazing Asian Elephant!!
Another one of the naysayers arguments from Seattle is that it is bad for the elephants to be so close to the amphitheater because the loud music and occasional pyrotechnics are bad for them. I do not know if the elephants are bothered by the music/shows that happen on weekends in the summer (and not every weekend but that doesn't really matter). I have been at the zoo during a show and have never seen the elephants display any sort of agitation frustration or stress signs. In fact, my daughter is very sensitive to crowds and loud noises (any reader of my blog knows this but if you are new she has rare seizure disorders that cause her to seize anywhere between an handful and hundreds of times a day). And none of us have ever been bothered by the amphitheater. It was never so loud that we couldn't hold conversations or even walk ahead of each other and call back to each other while walking around the zoo with our five children. BUT because of the amphitheater they would rather send them to a TB infected field that could not afford to build a barn/enclosure/shelter...smh
Another argument is that OKC temps are too different from Seattle, both colder and hotter days. That is why they have an enclosure with climate control. Do they think that weather does not happen in California or Tennessee? Tennessee gets a lot more snow than we do. I feel like this is an extension of their tantrum when OKC bought their failing NBA team and then treated the team better than they had been treated in Seattle, which will happen for their two elephants headed this way! I am so glad that the medical team in Oklahoma will get their hands and eyes on these elephants to make sure that they are healthy and continue to be so. I am also happy that the younger elephant has a chance of bonding with one of four other female elephants, Asha, Chandra, Malee (the first baby who is about 4/5 years old I cannot remember off hand), and Achara (the new baby). OKC has set the bar for elephant care - super high and it really ticks me off that people would be so blinded that they would rather put the elephants in harms way just because they think it is more important to have a free-for-all field to roam in than a "zoo." I am sure that if the OKC zoo could make larger pens (their pens have a play area, a waterfall, GREEN GRASS (the Seattle elephants enclosure from the pictures that Seattle shared-is all dirt), and friends! They also have a barn with stalls and open areas to walk and be treated.
OKC zoo also does not keep secrets about their animals. Visitors can view inside the barn, the birth of Achara was filmed. I will admit that watching the mama elephant give birth with cuffs on her feet was very upsetting to me, but that is because I also prefer for animals to be in natural habitats. However, in conservation and saving endangered species different measure have to be taken and the OKC zoo had no problem explaining why she was delivering the way that she was. They do not shy away from the care that they give because they have nothing to hide and nothing to be ashamed of. Moreover, if you read anything at all educational about Asian Elephants in captivity and especially Asian elephants breeding in captivity you will note that it is very often the case (around 50% chance) that the elephant calf will die within the first month. This is due to improper care AND improper environment, aka enclosures. Yet the OKC zoo has welcomed TWO healthy baby girls into the herd with absolutely no illness occurring before or after their conception. Finally, the OKC zoo does not plan on separating mama from baby. This is a very bad thing to do to Asian elephants as herd bonds are permanent in their social structure. In fact, there is one case of a wild Asian elephant witnessing her baby being killed by farmers "due to an accident." *Warning this is graphic as is the link to an animal planet explanation* She declined so rapidly in mental state and blamed humans to the point of being the only elephant on record to consume humans!
OKC's elephants have never shown any signs of being unhappy or agitated and the care given to them is obvious when you visit the zoo. When the elephants need rest and a break from humans watching them they get it, and you can even check in via their elephant cam (I am not finding the link but have watched before-it could be a seasonal thing not sure).... Keep up the good work OKC Zoofriends Okc Zoo