Woodland Park Zoo’s African elephant Watoto died last week. Zoo employees discovered the animal collapsed early one morning. After attempts to upright her, they euthanized her. Watoto was 45.
African elephants can live up to age 70 in the wild but do live much shorter lives in captivity. Watoto was born in the wild, captured and brought to Seattle when she was 2 years old. Most zoos no longer take animals from protected wildlife land, The Seattle Times reported.
Watoto’s death highlights activists’ call to return the zoo’s elephants to nature reserves. Many zoos nationwide have stopped housing elephants, even though elephants are often big attractions and thus, big money-makers for zoos.
Instead of spending the $3 million the zoo suggested in March to upgrade the elephant area, it should spend the money to relocate the animals and turn their area into a multimedia area that educates visitors. A zoo should always consider the animals’ safety and happiness first, before worrying about its bottom line or popularity.