Oregon Zoo's director downplayed a contract with an elephant rental company Tuesday, saying that although the zoo doesn't own its new baby elephant, the 300-pound bundle of joy is here to stay.
Zoo Director Kim Smith said the zoo is in negotiations with Have Trunk Will Travel to own the baby elephant.
Rose-Tu gave birth to the unnamed elephant early Friday morning, but controversy surfaced when a contract showed Have Trunk Will Travel has ownership of the second, fourth and six calves fathered by the baby elephant's father. That means the baby elephant actually belongs to the elephant rental company.
Tusko, the elephant father, is owned by Have Trunk Will Travel and was contracted by the Oregon Zoo to breed with Rose Tu. He is also the father of Samudra, an Oregon Zoo elephant born in 2005.
The contract allows Have Trunk Will Travel to terminate its agreement with the zoo as long as they give the zoo 60 days notice.
During a news conference, Smith said the contract is "not a big deal" and that the zoo feels very strongly about the baby elephant remaining with the herd. She described the breeding loan agreement with Have Trunk Will Travel as "not uncommon."
Smith said the elephant rental company is supportive of the Oregon Zoo's mission, and that there have never been any complications between agreements with other zoos. She said there's no precedent of Have Trunk Will Travel removing an animal it owns from another zoo.
"This calf will stay here with her family and grow up with her family," Smith said.
Smith also pointed to beloved Oregon Zoo elephant Packy, born 50 years ago at the zoo. That elephant was not owned by the zoo, she said.
"We've always been transparent," Smith said of the zoo and its polices with animal ownership.
Have Trunk Will Travel has been the subject of animal rights investigations in the past and, according to the report in the Seattle Times, "has generated controversy over its 30-year history for its use of chains and bull hooks… to discipline elephants and train them to perform tricks."
At this point, the baby elephant still doesn't have a name, and the zoo's naming contest has suddenly taken a back seat to the controversy over the contract.
Have Trunk Will Travel released a statement Tuesday, saying it "has no intention and has never had any
intention of coming to take Rose-Tu's calf. Have Trunk Will Travel
supports Oregon Zoo's vision for elephants and has great appreciation
for the way they care for elephants."
Copyright 2012 KPTV (Meredith Corporation.) All rights reserved.
Friday, April 18 2014 10:05 PM EDT2014-04-19 02:05:06 GMT
Police said a lengthy multi-agency investigation led to a traffic stop and the discovery of methamphetamine hidden in a car, as well as a meth lab at a Salem home. Police said a 2002 Subaru Impreza drivenMore >
Police said a lengthy multi-agency investigation led to a traffic stop and the discovery of methamphetamine hidden in a car, as well as a meth lab at a Salem home.More >
Friday, April 18 2014 10:12 PM EDT2014-04-19 02:12:08 GMT
An investigation into a two Nike employees accused of selling rare Nike shoes for their own financial gain led to a Florida man's arrest this week. A Washington County Sheriff's Office detective's affidavitMore >
An investigation into a Nike employee accused of stealing rare Nike shoes from the company's world headquarters and then selling them for his own financial gain led to the arrest of a Florida man.More >
Friday, April 18 2014 8:20 PM EDT2014-04-19 00:20:57 GMT
A Tigard woman found guilty of murder for the death of her 4-year-old son was sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole after 25 years. A jury found Jessica Dutro-Boggess, 25, guiltyMore >
A jury found Jessica Dutro-Boggess, 25, guilty on charges of murder, murder by abuse and assault earlier this month.More >
Wednesday, April 16 2014 10:51 PM EDT2014-04-17 02:51:53 GMT
A Portland police officer was wounded and his K-9 partner is missing following a shootout with a suspect in southwest Portland.The officer survived the shooting and he's in "very good spirits" while recoveringMore >
An officer was shot in the legs and his K-9 partner was killed during a confrontation with a burglary suspect in Portland. More >
Friday, April 18 2014 4:42 PM EDT2014-04-18 20:42:29 GMT
An 18-year-old was killed and a boy was critically injured in a car crash in Independence. Police were called to the scene on Stryker Road at around 5 p.m. Thursday. Investigators said a Dodge DurangoMore >
An 18-year-old was killed and a boy was critically injured in a car crash in Independence.More >
Friday, April 18 2014 12:55 PM EDT2014-04-18 16:55:01 GMT
A priest known as Father Isidore who was associated with the St. Anne Orthodox Church in Corvallis has been arrested on child pornography charges. Albany police said Stanley Brittain, aka Father Isidore,More >
Albany police detectives say they found evidence of child porn when they raided a home yesterday morning.More >
Saturday, April 19 2014 1:41 AM EDT2014-04-19 05:41:59 GMT
Four people were taken to the hospital after police said a car ran a red light and slammed into the outdoor eating area of a McDonald's restaurant in Longview. It happened a little before 3 p.m. More >
Four people were taken to the hospital after police said a car ran a red light and slammed into the outdoor eating area of a McDonald's restaurant in Longview.More >
Friday, April 18 2014 8:39 PM EDT2014-04-19 00:39:01 GMT
Two teens were arrested Wednesday, accused of trying to steal pot from another person. One of the teens is a well known high school football player. According to court documents, Billy Nelson, 16, andMore >
Two teens were arrested Wednesday, accused of trying to steal pot from another person. One of the teens is a well-known high school football player.More >