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Bamboo the Elephant’s Days of Misery Are Finally Over

From IDA In Defense of Animals
December 2022

Finally euthanized by her captors, Bamboo will never again have to endure the painful phyusical and psychological wounds that assailed her during her 54 years in captivity.

Please read From December 2016: Seattle zoo's Elephant Bamboo attacked, bitten at new home in Oklahoma

Elephant Bamboo

On November 15, 2022, 56-year-old Bamboo finally escaped her miserable life at the Oklahoma City Zoo in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, by being euthanized by her captors.

Bamboo will never again have to endure the painful physical and psychological wounds that assailed her during her 54 years in captivity. Tragically unable to form bonds with any other elephants she was introduced to, Bamboo spent most of her life in captivity in mind-numbing isolation. At her final destination at the Oklahoma City Zoo, she was bullied and assaulted repeatedly. In Bamboo's honor, call on the Oklahoma City Zoo and the Association of Zoos & Aquariums to stop condemning any more elephants to suffer and die in captivity.

Bamboo's life began in Thailand in 1966. In 1968 at just two years old, she was ripped from her home and family and sent to the Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle. There she existed with two other elephants in a tiny one-acre enclosure. There was no room for the incompatible elephants to get away from each other. To keep the peace, one of the elephants was locked away an indoor cage for months at a time. In Defense of Animals, along with a core group of dedicated advocates, fought to free the three elephants to a sanctuary.

In 2015, all efforts failed and the zoo, despite fervent public opposition, sent the elephants to the Oklahoma City Zoo. Watoto died before the journey even began, while Chai only lasted one year at the new zoo before she also died. Bamboo lived for seven more years, but every day of those seven years was fraught with the agony of debilitating arthritis, a common condition for elephants confined in zoos for years on end. She also suffered from extreme bullying from the other Asian elephants including one bite to her tail which severed the tip and took months to heal. The zoo referred to it as an “amputation.”

On November 21, 2022, just one week after Bamboo's death, the Oklahoma City Zoo brought in a nine-year-old male Asian elephant, Bowie, from the Fort Worth Zoo where he joins two other male Asian elephants and three female Asian elephants. His “job” is to help breed more babies to raise more money for the zoo. The Oklahoma City Zoo participates in the Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA) fraudulently named Species Survival Program (SSP), which does nothing to contribute to the survival of elephants in the wild, or even in captivity. Shockingly, more elephants die in zoos than are born there!

The Oklahoma City Zoo was named the #6 worst zoo on In Defense of Animals' list for good reason. Tell the Oklahoma City Zoo and the AZA to stop confining these intelligent and sensitive animals, and further to cease breeding, which only dooms even more elephants to lifetimes of boredom, trauma, and physical suffering in captivity.

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