SEATTLE (CN) – Two women say Seattle is using public money to support “cruel, inhumane and unlawful treatment of elephants” at Woodland Park Zoo. The women say one baby elephant has died and the four adults suffer from “inadequate facilities, abusive management practices, longstanding intentional neglect and breeding practices in callous disregard for elephants’ welfare.”
Taxpayer-plaintiffs Mary Sebek and Nancy Farnam say the elephant’s habitat is too small and has given the animals foot and joint problems and psychological trauma.
“The Zoo’s response to complaints filed by advocacy groups concerned about the lack of space for the elephants has been denial. Zoo Deputy Director Bruce Bohmke claimed in 2006 that ‘It’s like spending a day at the spa for these elephants every single day,'” according to the complaint in King County Court.
The women add that the zoo’s breeding practices, including artificially inseminating one of elephant 57 times, have harmed the animals. One baby elephant died after contracting herpes, according to the complaint.
“The Zoo continues to keep elephants, despite its inability to meet their basic needs, because it believes that elephants, particularly baby elephants, are a marquee attraction that fosters ticket sales and donations,” the complaint states.
“King County and Seattle taxpayers, and plaintiffs in particular, have paid and will continue to pay for an elephant exhibit that violates Washington and Seattle criminal anti-cruelty statutes,” the women say.
The two counts in the complaint are illegal government expenditures: cruelty to animals and waste.
The women want the city to stop funding the zoo and the Zoo Society, which manages it. They are represented by Brian Knutsen with Smith & Lowney.