Oregon Zoo Says Baby Elephant Will Stay

Dec 4, 2012

Oregon Zoo director Kim Smith says there are no immediate plans to move a newborn elephant calf away from the herd. But zoo officials also confirmed a Seattle Times report that the zoo does not own the animal.

The Oregon zoo's new baby elephant.
Credit Oregon Zoo website

The company that owns the new elephant is Have Trunk, Will Travel. It's a business that rents out elephants for special events and movies. And zoo officials confirmed it's technically the owner of the baby female celebrated with banners at the zoo's front gate.

But Smith says the company supports the zoo's mission and has not expressed intent to take possession of the calf.

"I think there's a misunderstanding about how we determine where the calf lives. A breeding loan agreement does not say where she lives. A breeding loan agreement just talks about who owns her."

Smith says zoos can't own all the animals in their care. That said, she acknowledged the zoo is in talks with the company to take ownership of the calf. 

When asked whether the zoo condones the group's business model and methods for working with elephants. Smith said only Have Trunk Will Travel has been a terrific partner to the zoo, helping to supply the bull elephant, Tusko. 

The Seattle Times explored the welfare of elephants in zoos nationwide, and reports that zoos are struggling with breeding programs. 

Have Trunk Will Travel did not respond to a request from OPB for comment.

Copyright 2012 Oregon Public Broadcasting

On the Web:

Oregon Zoo: http://www.oregonzoo.org/