Judge Rules Against the Elephants

Photo by Andy Withers
Photo by Andy Withers
Update: Judge Rietschel ruled against the elephants in finding that the Woodland Park Zoo is not obligated to comply with the state’s Public Records Act and make information such as veterinary records for the elephants available to the public. The Plaintiff may appeal.

Original report: On behalf of the elephants held at Woodland Park Zoo, please attend a hearing this Friday, July 25, 2014 at 1:30 p.m. in Judge Jean Rietschel’s courtroom at the King County Courthouse, 516 Third Avenue, Seattle, WA 98104.

At issue is whether Friends of Woodland Park Zoo Elephants is entitled to obtain information from the zoo including about the welfare of the elephants. In response to numerous public disclosure requests, the Zoo has stated it does not have specific records or supplied grossly inaccurate information. The Zoo has also claimed it is not subject to Washington State’s Public Records Act. This despite one third of the zoo’s funding comes from the City of Seattle and King County and it operates under a contract with the city of Seattle on city property.

In order to require the zoo to comply with the state’s Public Records Act, Friends of Woodland Park Zoo Elephants filed a lawsuit on March 12, 2014: Fortgang v. Woodland Park Zoo. The motion for summary judgment will be heard this Friday, July 25th at 1:30pm.

We need you there to show the judge WE ARE WATCHING

What: Motion for Summary Judgment, Fortgang v. Woodland Park Zoo
When: Friday, July 25th, 2014 at 1:30pm
Where: King County Superior Court. 516 Third Avenue, Seattle, WA 98104
Honorable Judge Jean Rietschel’s courtroom.

What is the zoo hiding?

The Zoo has taken over $108 million dollars from tax payers since 2002. The Zoo has use of city parkland and city buildings RENT FREE. The Zoo acquired their “product”, the animals from the city, for FREE. Yet the Zoo has refused to answer the most basic details about the welfare of Bamboo, Chai and Watoto, the three elephants confined in the Zoo. When it did respond, some information was not accurate—such as how many times Chai was artificially inseminated or where the water sources are located in the yard.

More recently, the Zoo has refused to provide records on the imminent transfer of Watoto to another Zoo. Despite acknowledging that the Zoo is communicating with other zoos, it says it has no records.

It’s time for secrecy to end. As taxpayers we deserve to know what’s going on inside the walls of Woodland Park Zoo. Please come and show your support against the Zoo’s arrogance.

We will all wear an orange tag that says in big letters: TRANSPARENCY