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OKC Zoo elephants for some reason behave like prisoners…


It's been a little over a year since the Oklahoma City acquired two elephants – Bamboo and Chai – from Seattle. The move was criticized by animal rights activists, Bob Barker and the Save Our Sonics crowd who thought moving two senior animals 2,000 miles to live in Oklahoma City with an established pride of elephants they've never met was a bad idea, and could endanger the animals' health and well-being.

It's pretty safe to say the critics were right. After arriving in Oklahoma, Chai passed along a fatal herpes virus to the Oklahoma City Zoo's baby elephant Malee. Just a couple of months after that, Chai died due to a blood infection. Now the one remaining elephant from Seattle, Bamboo, is apparently being bullied and tormented by the rest of the elephants.

Via the best source for news about our zoo, The Seattle Times:

When Seattle’s Woodland Park Zoo transferred its two elephants to the Oklahoma City Zoo last year, officials were optimistic that the animals would integrate well with Oklahoma’s existing herd.

Bamboo, the elder female, would become the matriarch. The younger Chai would be an “auntie” to Oklahoma’s young elephants, they predicted.

But within a few months, one of Oklahoma’s baby elephants was dead of a viral infection almost certainly passed to her by Chai. A few months later, Chai herself collapsed and died from a combination of emaciation and a systemic blood infection.

Now, zoo records show that far from acting as a matriarch, Bamboo has attacked — and been attacked by — the other elephants at her new home.

On at least three occasions, Bamboo suffered bites on her tail, including one described as an “amputation” that left bits of tissue and tendon exposed in the severed tip. The wound took months to heal.

In an incident in April, a female elephant chased and pushed Bamboo, resulting in a 6-inch scrape on her trunk. And in May, Bamboo charged a 20-month-old female, shoving her under the electrical “hot wire” that surrounds the compound.

Geeze, that's awful. Who knew that wild animals forced to live in captivity with other animals they've never met could be such assholes to each other? It's like they're trapped in prison or something. Don't they know right from wrong? It's a good thing the other elephants don't have the thumbs and fingers required to use a mobile device, otherwise they'd probably post Snapchat pics of Bamboo calling her a slut.

Here's what the Oklahoma City Zoo had to say about the ordeal:

Oklahoma City Zoo spokeswoman Candice Rennels described the incidents as a normal part of establishing dominance hierarchy within a herd.

“Bamboo is doing great,” Rennels wrote in an email. “Though she is not the matriarch of the herd, she is integrating well with the other elephants. She is not being harassed or bullied.”

Yeah, Bamboo isn't being harassed or bullied at all. The other elephants are simply trying to bite off her tail. It's just elephants being elephants. No big deal.

Anyway, for more info on this ever-growing sad story, and the Oklahoma City Zoo's inspired effort to prevent access to public records, check out the Seattle Times. You can also stop by Doc Hoc's blog at Okie Funk. My old college professor has been covering the story like it's a lost chapter from the The Dharma Bums.

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