You may have read J.B.’s post last month about our neighborhood elk and her new chance to live a life in the wild. Well, to no one’s great surprise, she did not take to the wild life.
Yesterday, Ellie the elk was moved to Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle where, after a quarantine period, she will be introduced to two females and a male elk (with two more females to join soon from Northwest Trek). There were several stories about the move in the local press, because Ellie (better known as Buttons) is quite the celebrity. I thought the story in the Yakima Herald contained the most information.
It’s never a happy day when a wild animal is put into captivity, but she was clearly not adapting to the truly wild life. In an ideal world, Ellie wouldn’t have faced that choice so late in life, but she did. She was at the mercy of those who are tasked with handling wildlife – in this case, the Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife. In many situations with a habituated wild adult animal, the animal is put down. Scott McCorquodale of WDFW, however, went out of his way to find a different solution for Ellie.
We are happy that the zoo agreed to make a home for her where she will have another chance to be with her own kind and where her many human friends can keep tabs on her. Wouldn’t it be great if more zoos were able to provide homes for animals like Ellie?
We are REALLY hoping it works out for her, and we remain available to help if she’s not able to integrate with the elk at the zoo. There’s a small celebration for Ellie/Buttons on March 27th for anyone who’s local. Here’s the Facebook page about the event.
Below is a video from 2014 of Jamie and Ellie:
In chimpanzee-specific news, the chimps, as I suspect many humans in the area, were outside this morning enjoying what genuinely felt like spring!
To set the scene, when I opened the door to give the chimpanzees access to Young’s Hill, Missy raced outside with Annie, Foxie, Jody and Burrito following her (Jamie and Negra remained in the greenhouse finishing their breakfast). All five of them walked the full path around the perimeter, which was clear of snow thanks to J.B. plowing a few weeks ago.
Ten or fifteen minutes later, I spotted Foxie and Burrito coming down the other side and saw that Foxie was thinking about veering off the path well-traveled onto the hard-packed snow.
She checked in with Burrito, but he was not interested in this adventure and continued on.
Foxie is known to be simultaneously adventurous and cautious, so she wasn’t about to just nonchalantly stroll onto the icy snow. She needed to test it out by first punching it and then putting just some of her weight on it.
When she was satisfied that it could hold her full body weight, she took a couple of tentative steps:
Jody, in the meantime, was watching all of this from below. Jody, being the manager/den mother of the group, seemed a little concerned. I’m not sure if it was because Foxie was the last one still up the hill or if Jody thought Foxie’s steps onto the snow were ill conceived.
In any case, Jody went up to collect Foxie, and Foxie obliged by following her back down the hill – on the proper path.