Tony Vecchio, We Applaud You!

I am stunned. Tony Vecchio, director of the Oregon Zoo has gone on the news to declare the zoo habitats for elephants, polar bears and primates are outdated and desperately inadequate. He says that the animals are displaying repetitive, stressed behavior because of their cramped confinement, and need more room.

The polar bear exhibit heats up in the summer to over 100 degrees. Incredibly intelligent primates are forced to live in concrete cages and tiny outdoor areas surrounded by thoughtless, noisy crowds. The highly social and sensitive elephants live in concrete cells as well, and the six of them have less than 2 acres to move around. Day in and day out. Decade after decade. The animals have nowhere to go, nowhere to escape this daily stress. For a zoo director to not only understand this painful reality, but to go public for help to change it is AWESOME! Tony! You are the Man!

I am beyond excited, although the catch is...the public needs to approve 125 million dollars for the improvements. The public may not be as thrilled as I am. However... Mr. Vecchio also goes on to say that if the funding is not found, the zoo may be forced to "rethink their collection" (animals are not collections, however) and some favorites may not be able to stay at the zoo. I'm thinking maybe that's the best idea yet! Provided the new environment is significantly better than the old one and justifies the trauma that transport would involve. The elephants would be so much happier at Wildlife Safari, for example. Where they could move, really MOVE on dirt instead of concrete, and eat leaves from trees instead of hay off the ground. Packy could live out his twilight years in comfort, instead of in a concrete prison cell.

I wrote an email to Mr. Vecchio to thank him for his compassionate understanding of these innocents' basic needs. Please do the same at...

In other news, A SEA LION HAS DIED FROM THE STRESS OF BEING CAPTURED. The sea lions at the Bonneville dam had a good life: free, wild, and doing what they do best. Humans are interfering, like they always do, and are trapping them. Putting these beautiful wild things into cages and flying them to a northwest zoo for "health inspections". So much for their health, the sea lions are now traumatized and terrorized, and one of them has died from it. Write a letter to the editor of the Oregonian to share your thoughts on this ridiculous, cruel and ultimately ineffective solution to the salmon shortage!

"The greatness of a nation can be judged by how its animals are treated" -- Mohandas Gandhi