The agreement between Woodland Park Zoo and the Oklahoma City Zoo shows no profit from the planned transfer of Asian elephants.
Woodland Park Zoo estimates it will cost $111,000 to ship its two Asian elephants to their new home at the Oklahoma City Zoo.
The bill will be split between the two zoos, with Woodland Park responsible for any cost overruns, according to an agreement released Monday in response to a public- records request.
The loan agreement makes it clear that Woodland Park is not profiting from the transfer. The price of both animals is listed as “$0.”
Once the animals arrive, the Oklahoma City Zoo will be responsible for all expenses related to their care.
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Chai, 36, and Bamboo, 48, will remain the property of Woodland Park, and the agreement says the Seattle zoo must be notified before any high-risk veterinary procedures are performed on them. Oklahoma City also cannot transfer the elephants to another facility without permission from Woodland Park.
Advocates for the elephants have sued to block the move, and the agreement acknowledges the possibility that litigation might continue after the animals arrive in Oklahoma City. In that case, Woodland Park would pay the Oklahoma zoo’s costs for defending itself against legal claims related to the transfer.
A separate document confirming the transaction says Woodland Park must provide three weeks’ notice to Oklahoma City before shipping the elephants.
The Seattle zoo already has agreed not to move the animals before an April 3 court hearing on the Elephant Justice Project’s suit and request for an injunction to block the transfer.
For the third week in a row, supporters and opponents of Woodland Park’s decision to send the elephants to Oklahoma packed the weekly Seattle City Council meeting. Opponent Angela Rae pointed out that an anonymous benefactor had agreed to pay the cost of shipping the animals to a sanctuary in California, sparing taxpayers who provide about a third of Woodland Park Zoo’s budget.
“Though the name of our generous donor remains anonymous, I think we can all agree the price is right,” she said, in an allusion to former game-show host Bob Barker, who bankrolled the transfer of elephants from Toronto’s zoo to the Performing Animal Welfare Society Sanctuary in California.
Zoo volunteer Nancy Edmondson urged the council to leave the decision about Chai and Bamboo’s fate up to the experts at Woodland Park.
The transport bill is so high because moving mammals that weigh multiple tons is a specialized skill, said Nancy Hawkes, general curator for Woodland Park. Chai and Bamboo will travel in climate-controlled containers and be accompanied by two veterinarians, two alternate drivers and three members of the zoo’s elephant care staff.