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Woodland Park Zoo joins Wildlife Conservation Society in an international effort to end the illegal ivory trade that is fueling the elephant conservation crisis. 

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November 16, 2015

Photos: (Top) At Oklahoma City Zoo, Chai extends her trunk in the company of herd mates, including Bamboo on the far left. Credit: Woodland Park Zoo. (Bottom) Sri on left with Jade at Saint Louis Zoo. Credit: Robin Winkleman/Saint Louis Zoo

Woodland Park Zoo donates elephants to Oklahoma City and Saint Louis Zoos

Woodland Park Zoo has transferred ownership of its Asian elephants to zoos in Oklahoma City and St. Louis.

Female elephants Bamboo, 48, and Chai, 36, were moved to Oklahoma City Zoo this past May when Woodland Park Zoo decided to close its elephant exhibit. Another female Asian elephant, Sri (pronounced “see”), 35, has been living at Saint Louis Zoo since 2002. 

Oklahoma City and Saint Louis Zoos have asked Woodland Park Zoo to transfer ownership of the elephants. Because both OKC and Saint Louis Zoos are accredited by the Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA), the elephants will continue to receive a consistent, high standard of day-to-day care.

Read the full story | Browse the FAQ


June 30, 2015

Chai and Bamboo making friends at OKC Zoo

Chandra and Malee with Chai at Oklahoma City Zoo. Photo by Lena Kofoed.

Bamboo with Malee at Oklahoma City Zoo. Photo by Lena Kofoed.

Chai and Bamboo are making friends! Now that the elephants have cleared standard quarantine at their new home in Oklahoma City Zoo, the two have begun spending time with their new herd mates, Asha, Chandra, Malee and Achara.

The introductions have been going smoothly. Keepers spotted Bamboo touching trunks with 6-month-old Achara and 4-year-old Malee, and Chai is right by their side, fitting in well. The bond between Bamboo and Chai has grown stronger too!

See photos and video of the herd together


May 13, 2015

Oklahoma City Zoo announces arrival of Asian elephants

Chai and Bamboo at Oklahoma City Zoo

Bamboo at Oklahoma City Zoo

The following update is issued jointly by Oklahoma City Zoo and Botanical Garden and Woodland Park Zoo

The Oklahoma City Zoo and Botanical Garden (OKC Zoo) is proud to announce the arrival of Asian elephants, Bamboo and Chai from Woodland Park Zoo (WPZ) in Seattle, who have been temporarily residing at the San Diego Zoo. The elephants safely stepped onto Oklahoma City soil Wednesday, May 13, 2015, at 3:00 a.m. (CDT).

“We are excited to have these two new members join our family,” said Dwight Lawson, PhD, OKC Zoo executive director/CEO. “This journey has always been about the best care possible for Bamboo and Chai. We’ve witnessed an incredible collaboration of three Association of Zoo and Aquarium-accredited zoos, which kept the well-being of Bamboo and Chai at the forefront of their transition. We are grateful to the Oklahoma City community for the outpouring of support and well wishes on behalf of the elephants, to the San Diego Zoo for temporarily accommodating Bamboo and Chai, and to the Woodland Park Zoo team who has worked tirelessly with high standards of professionalism,” said Lawson.

“We’re pleased to report that Bamboo and Chai remained bright, alert, and in good condition throughout the road trip,” said Martin Ramirez, Woodland Park Zoo’s mammal curator who was among elephant care staff accompanying the caravan. “During the welfare check stops, they showed normal behavior, interacted positively with our staff and ate hay, pellets and hand-fed fruit treats.” In addition to the stops every few hours, closed circuit cameras allowed staff to monitor the animals remotely in real time. 

Dr. Jennifer D’Agostino, Oklahoma City Zoo Director of Veterinary Services added, “Both Bamboo and Chai looked great this morning. They immediately interacted with the Woodland Park Zoo staff, ate snacks including watermelon, cantaloupe, raisins and hay, enjoyed sand baths and explored their surroundings.”

The new elephants will be in quarantine for 30 days, a standard procedure for new animal arrivals at the Zoo. They will be in close proximity to the Zoo’s existing elephant herd but with only visual, auditory and olfactory engagement during the quarantine period. However, as soon as conditions are suitable, the new elephants may be seen outside in a separate elephant yard viewable to Zoo guests.  After the quarantine period, the new elephants will be gradually introduced to the existing elephant herd. In addition, Woodland Park Zoo’s elephant staff will spend as much time as necessary with Bamboo and Chai to help ease their transition and settle them into their new surroundings.

Bamboo, 48, and Chai, 36, lived at WPZ for many years. The zoo, however, recently phased out its on-site elephant program. After months of carefully evaluating potential homes, WPZ leadership and staff selected the OKC Zoo as the best facility for the well-being and overall care of the elephants. WPZ’s criteria, based on recommendations from animal welfare experts, included a social herd of Asian elephants into which Chai and Bamboo could successfully integrate, a state-of-the-art facility, a healthy environment free of active infectious disease, a high-caliber elephant keeper and veterinary staff, a restricted contact elephant management system, and an established history of stable finances and leadership. 
These recent additions bring the OKC Zoo’s Asian elephant herd to seven. Bamboo and Chai join female Asha, 20; female Chandra, 18, the sister of Asha; female Malee, 4, the daughter of Asha; female Achara, 5 months, the daughter of Asha and the Zoo’s sole male, Rex, 47. Asian elephants are listed as critically endangered with an estimated 38,000 to 51,000 remaining in the wild and approximately 139 currently living in AZA-accredited facilities.

Watch for updates on our newest family members and all things OKC Zoo via the Zoo’s website and social media platforms.  Find us at Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. To learn more about these and other happenings, call (405) 424-3344 or visit

“Oklahoma City Zoo is the best choice and meets our requirements to provide the best social welfare in a healthy environment for Bamboo and Chai,” said Woodland Park Zoo President and CEO Dr. Deborah Jensen. “They will have an opportunity to live and socialize with more elephants and they will continue to receive the same kind of exemplary care they received during their lifetime at Woodland Park Zoo.”

“Adding Bamboo and Chai will help round out our family. Their maturity, plus experience with a baby, will be valuable in broadening the social dynamics of our herd. We look forward to having these new members join our family,” said Dwight Lawson, PhD, OKC Zoo executive director/CEO.

The OKC Zoo new Elephant Habitat opened in March 2011. The $13 million, state-of-the-art exhibit spans 9.5 acres, with 3.95 acres available for the elephants, and includes three spacious outdoor yards, a waterfall and a technologically-advanced barn with amenities including views into the barn from a raised boardwalk. The Elephant Barn is 12,636 square feet with about 2,000 square feet of support space (mechanical rooms, keeper work space, second floor office), and features eight separate stalls with different configuration opportunities plus a community stall with sand substrate. Other barn highlights include a radiant floor heating system, a raised office with 360° view of interior, ambient lighting through windows and skylights and hydraulic-operated animal gates. A pavilion seats more than 400 guests for elephant lovers to observe presentations demonstrating natural elephant behaviors including daily routines such as baths, foot care and training sessions.

Read the Elephant Arrival Q&A


May 12, 2015

Elephants Chai and Bamboo continue their journey to Oklahoma City Zoo

Asian elephants Chai and Bamboo departed San Diego Zoo yesterday evening to continue their journey to Oklahoma City Zoo. 

Accompanied by five Woodland Park Zoo elephant care staff, three veterinarians and six expert animal transport staff, the elephants are traveling in separate, ventilated crates equipped with heating and evaporative cooler units, as well as closed circuit cameras that allow staff to monitor the animals remotely in real time. 

Read full news story


May 8, 2015

Court denies motion for temporary restraining order

Read the full statement



April 28, 2015

Peanut butter balls a hit for Woodland Park Zoo elephants at San Diego Zoo

Woodland Park Zoo’s female Asian elephants Bamboo and Chai are indulging in peanut butter balls and fruitsicles at their temporary home at San Diego Zoo.

Read the full article here



April 22, 2015

Woodland Park Zoo elephants continue to do well at San Diego Zoo

The elephants were headed to their new home at Oklahoma City Zoo when a severe change in a forecasted storm rerouted the caravan to the south. A conservative decision was made In Las Vegas for animal welfare precautions to go to San Diego Zoo and allow the elephants to rest because the reroute would have extended the trip a day longer. Unfortunately, activists have made unfounded allegations about the elephants, their care and their health. The misinformation is misleading and wrong.

Read the full statement



April 20, 2015

Woodland Park Zoo elephants are resting at San Diego Zoo

Woodland Park Zoo’s female Asian elephants, Bamboo and Chai, spent the weekend at San Diego Zoo after their trip to Oklahoma City Zoo was rerouted due to a storm in Colorado and Wyoming that was expected to increase in severity. The pair continues to rest in comfort.

Video of Bamboo and Chai taken today at San Diego Zoo


April 17, 2015

Inclement weather reroutes elephants to San Diego Zoo

Two days ago, Woodland Park Zoo’s female Asian elephants, Bamboo and Chai, departed on a custom-built elephant transport vehicle for their new home at Oklahoma City Zoo. The caravan had to change their route in Salt Lake City due to a storm in Colorado and Wyoming that was expected to increase in severity. Because the reroute would have extended the trip a day longer, a decision was made for veterinary precautions to go to San Diego Zoo and allow the elephants to rest. 

Read the Q&A



April 15, 2015

Elephants are on the road to Oklahoma City Zoo

A new chapter began for female Asian elephants Bamboo and Chai when they stepped into elephant-sized travel crates, were loaded on the flatbed truck, and left Woodland Park Zoo for their new home at Oklahoma City Zoo. The truck pulled out at 6:15 p.m. PST today, April 15. 

Read the full news statement


April 15, 2015

Appeal is denied for federal preliminary injunction

Statement available from Dr. Deborah Jensen, President and CEO of Woodland Park Zoo

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April 3, 2015

Woodland Park Zoo wins preliminary injunction lawsuit

Statement from Dr. Deborah Jensen, President and CEO of Woodland Park Zoo.

Read the Statement


March 10, 2015

Setting the record straight

Woodland Park Zoo offers clarifications and corrections to inaccuracies made in recent publications.

Get the facts


February 27, 2015

Woodland Park Zoo’s elephants Bamboo and Chai to join an elephant family at Oklahoma City Zoo

After three months of carefully evaluating potential homes for its two female Asian elephants, 48-year-old Bamboo and 36-year-old Chai, Woodland Park Zoo has selected Oklahoma City Zoo, which has a family of Asian elephants including multi-generations. The zoo anticipates moving the elephants between late March and mid-April.

Read the full article

November 27, 2014

Guest: Woodland Park Zoo’s elephants belong in another zoo, not a sanctuary
David Towne (Special to the Seattle Times)


Read the full article


November 19, 2014

Woodland Park Zoo to phase out its elephant program

Plans will begin for relocating elephants to an AZA-accredited institution.


Read the full article


September 8, 2014

Setting the Record Straight

Get the facts about Woodland Park Zoo elephants


August 25, 2014

Woodland Park Zoo asks community to remember African elephant Watoto

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March 28, 2014

Plans for elephant program

Read the full press release


Get the real story on the elephant program and find helpful corrections and clarifications to misinformation you may have seen.

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Elephant Arrival Q&A

Elephant Relocation Q&A
Read through these commonly asked questions and answers to learn more.

Elephant family in Kinabatangan, Hutan


Learn more about Woodland Park Zoo's elephant conservation work with its Partners for Wildlife in Asia and Africa.

Hutan Asian Elephant Conservation Project

Tanzania Wildlife Migration: Tarangire Elephants