I APPLAUD the Seattle Times for their series of reports on the problem of elephants in our zoos. Seattle has been in denial about this problem for a long time, in spite of the best efforts of PAWS (?) and other animal welfare groups to keep a spotlight on it.
A zoo is not the best place for any animal (except humans), but for some animals, it's little better than a slow death. Case in point: elephants.
I was never – repeat NEVER – persuaded by Woodland Park's long-standing claim that they were doing right by their elephants and that their breeding program was successful. The one baby that was born there died of infection, and all you have to do is go there to see for yourself how unhappy their elephants are.
. . . and Woodland Park is an example of a GOOD zoo. Think of all the zoos that aren't even up to Woodland Park standards.
Sorry, but "captive breeding" is not an excuse for keeping an animal that normally ranges over thousands of square miles of warm rainforest in a cold, dark enclosure of less than an acre. In this case, "captive breeding" is just code for "People come to this zoo to see elephants, and by god, they're gonna see elephants."
If we need to keep and breed large tropical species, it must be done in conditions that are as similar to the wild as possible. Does Seattle look and feel like Thailand to you? If so, perhaps you're the one who needs to be in the zoo.
(And I wouldn't recommend that they try to breed you, either.)