The Oklahoma City Zoo should send its elephants to a sanctuary, PETA said in a statement the day after the death of Chai, sent there from Seattle last year.
A national animal-welfare group is calling for the Oklahoma City Zoo to shut down its elephant exhibit immediately following the death of Chai, the Asian elephant transferred from Seattle’s Woodland Park Zoo last year.
The zoo’s elephants, including Bamboo, who was also transferred from Woodland Park, should be sent to a sanctuary, “where they will never die alone and unassisted as Chai did,” the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) Foundation said in a statement Sunday. The 37-year-old female elephant was found dead Saturday morning by Oklahoma City zookeeping staff.
“Chai did not have to die this way, in this crowded zoo, when she had had a chance to live in a sanctuary and be watched over and cared for,” the foundation wrote.
The zoo said Saturday that the elephant habitat would remain open to guests, but presentations were canceled for the weekend. The results of a necropsy will be released later this week.
Chai and Bamboo were relocated to Oklahoma City last May after a federal judge declined activists’ requests to block their transfer. U.S. District Judge John C. Coughenour criticized the conditions of both zoos but said moving them wouldn’t result in any more harm than they had already suffered.
The elephant’s death is the second in Oklahoma City in four months. Four-year-old Malee died in October of a herpes virus, which also killed Chai’s daughter, Hansa, in 2007.