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Packy The Elephant's Birthday Cause For Celebration, Protest

OPB | April 11, 2014 3:50 p.m. | Updated: April 12, 2014 8:30 a.m. | Portland

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Saturday, two very different groups will meet at Oregon Zoo — those attending the annual Elephantastic celebration for Packy the elephant’s 52nd birthday and animal rights activists for Free the Oregon Zoo Elephants group’s Rally to Free Packy.

Packy will have more room to wander in the new Elephant Lands exhibit.

Packy will have more room to wander in the new Elephant Lands exhibit.

Michael Clapp / OPB

The websites to promote each event couldn’t be more opposite: the zoo invites the public to “Get a little wet and discover how elephants use their trunks in water,” while FOZE states “On April 12, (Packy) will have spent 52 years behind bars and is suffering from many conditions and illnesses related to his captivity …”

Both sides were on Think Out Loud Friday and generated a discussion online.

“We work with Packy and what he tells us that he wants and needs and that’s how we are moving to the future,” Bob Lee, elephant curator at the zoo, said.

But Courtney Scott, founder of FOZE, described more dire situation for Packy.

“He’s never walked on grass, he’s never forged on trees, he’s never swam in a river,” she said. “He’s led a very strained and restricted life.”

Festivities at the elephant exhibit will start at noon and FOZE will meet just outside the zoo entrance at the same time Organizers have encouraged supporters to bring their own signs.

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