Is there anything in Portland’s city laws that says an elephant can’t serve as part of the Metro Council?
An animal rights activist group, Free the Oregon Zoo Elephants (FOZE), is testing the limits by recruiting its supporters to write-in elephant Packy’s name of the May primary ballot for districts one, two and four where Metro candidates are running unopposed.
The Metro Council will hold a hearing Thursday and FOZE and its supporters are attending to criticize the 2015 budget that includes subsidies for the Oregon Zoo and to demand that Packy be sent to an elephant sanctuary.
The meeting comes days after Metro replaced the Oregon Zoo’s director and top veterinarian. OPB’s Amelia Templeton reported that Metro spokesman Jim Middaugh would not comment why they were let go:
“In the coming weeks and months we’ll be working with the zoo staff and the community to figure out what all our next steps are going to be. In the meantime, the zoo is in good hands.”
Packy is a point of pride for the zoo. He was the first elephant born in the Western Hemisphere in 44 years and is the oldest male Asian elephant in North America. And that’s what gets FOZE’s goat — he’s been in the zoo his entire life and FOZE says many of the illnesses that Packy is experiencing in his old age are related to his captivity.
Even Packy’s birthday spurred controversy: Packy’s 52nd last month drew crowds both for the annual Elephantastic celebration and for a protest organized by FOZE at the park gates.