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Readers' Letters: Elephants need space, not boredom

Finally, this wonderful conversation is happening (Oregon Zoo should give Packy a healthy retirement gift of a new sanctuary home, guest column, May 20).

I have been watching and writing and commenting and calling about the elephants at the zoo for 10 years. Now, awareness of what these incredibly sensitive and intelligent creatures need to be healthy and happy is rising.

The confines at the zoo are cruel. Packy lives in a concrete cell. All of the elephants exhibit stress behavior from both boredom and being around so many people all of the time.

And on a connected issue: the zoo should not have rock and roll concerts among the animal exhibits. Since when did a place that proclaims “conservation” as its mission include a huge, amplified sound system solely for human entertainment? It’s distressing to all of the sensitive wild creatures to be bombarded day and night with people, loud music and crazy zoo lights.

These animals are in their care, so care about them already and do what’s right for the animals, not the zoo’s bottom line.

Diane Rios

Southeast Portland

Like us, elephants know where home is

When my grandmother was so old she couldn’t take care of herself, the family put her in a retirement home against her wishes. She was unhappy and became sick, and soon passed away (Oregon Zoo should give Packy a healthy retirement gift of a new sanctuary home, guest column, May 20).

My friend’s mother is old and the family wants to put her in a retirement home, but she refuses to go. So a nurse comes in to care for her. Her health is failing, but she is happy.

Transferring Packy to sanctuary is not the right thing to do. He has grown and lived his life at the Oregon Zoo. This is his home, where he is familiar with the environment and the people. Moving him would cause him stress, resulting in unhappiness and shortening what is left of his life.

Please leave Packy alone. Allow him to live out the remainder of his life where he is happy, and that is home, the Oregon Zoo.

Linda Evans

Hillsboro

City’s BES is much more than just a ‘sewer bureau’

In regard to “Water plan swamped; city pledges to change (May 22),” which reported the appropriate trouncing of the cynical, anti-environmental attempt to wrest control of our city’s water and environmental services bureaus, Mayor Charlie Hales was quoted as referring to the “sewer bureau” when pledging to “do better.”

I would urge the mayor to change something else: how he refers to the Bureau of Environmental Services. He may find it easier to shorthand it by saying “sewer bureau.”

The campaign against Measure 26-156 was made more difficult by the city’s ineptness in communicating to the public the full range of BES’s contributions to the city’s environmental quality and quality of life.

In the future, Mayor Hales and the rest of the City Council should emphasize BES hasn’t been the “sewer bureau” for more than a decade. And they should stop apologizing for the bureau’s nationally recognized use of green infrastructure to improve the city’s environment.

With its adoption of the city’s Watershed Management Plan in 2005, BES entered the 21st century with a nationally recognized — by the federal Environmental Protection Agency no less — watershed and green infrastructure stewardship program.

Yes, the city still pumps our raw sewage to the Columbia Boulevard treatment plant, and yes, BES has removed sewage outfalls into the Willamette and Columbia Slough — with the big pipe, which, by the way, was on time and under budget.

But BES also is addressing climate change, recovering endangered salmon, addressing flooding in Johnson Creek, and improving watershed health throughout the city.

Mayor Hales, city commissioners: BES is no longer a “sewer bureau.” Please stop referring to it as such.

The media, too, have a responsibility to educate the public about the bureau’s broader environmental programs so the public can judge its value against efforts like Measure 26-156, which distorted and lied about the bureau’s mission.

Mike Houck

Director, Urban Greenspaces Institute

Northwest Portland