Zoo officials claim $125M bond was not enough to run elephant sa - KPTV - FOX 12

Zoo officials claim $125M bond was not enough to run elephant sanctuary

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It was a plan eight years in the making, but now the Oregon Zoo wants to abandon efforts to build an off-site elephant sanctuary.

Back in 2008, voters passed a bond measure to fund a project that set out to build a new elephant habitat at the zoo and a separate sanctuary.

Now, though, Oregon Zoo and Metro officials feel that the sanctuary will not be possible.

The issue took center stage at a Metro board meeting Thursday.

Just last month, the brand new elephant lands exhibit opened at the zoo, giving the animals four times the space they had before.

It was paid for by a $125 million bond measure voters approved nearly eight years ago. That money has been used for several other projects too, but was supposed to be used to also build an off-site elephant sanctuary.

However members of a special task force claimed they can’t find a location that would be safe for the animals and neighbors, or that would meet land use and water conservations laws.  

They also note that the bond money may cover the cost to build it, but there isn’t enough funding to maintain it long term.

“if we had to fund that from the zoo operating fund we really would take away from other conservation work that we’re doing and our brand new elephant habitat,” Teri Dresler, interim zoo director, said. “We’d have to reduce a lot of those programs.”

Some people who voted for the bond disagree with the task force, and feel the elephants deserve better.

“I see these elephants in that barren sand lot called elephant lands,” Courtney Scott, a Portland based animal rights activist, said. “Who are we kidding here? Those are not lands! Those are a pathetic three-acre sand barren lot with a pool.  These elephants are suffering.”

Dresler noted the remaining bond money will be used on several other worthy programs.

The metro board will cast a final vote on the issue next month.

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