Oregon Zoo's director downplayed a contract with an elephant rental company Tuesday, saying that although the zoo doesn't own its new baby elephant, the 300-pound bundle of joy is here to stay.
Zoo Director Kim Smith said the zoo is in negotiations with Have Trunk Will Travel to own the baby elephant.
Rose-Tu gave birth to the unnamed elephant early Friday morning, but controversy surfaced when a contract showed Have Trunk Will Travel has ownership of the second, fourth and six calves fathered by the baby elephant's father. That means the baby elephant actually belongs to the elephant rental company.
Tusko, the elephant father, is owned by Have Trunk Will Travel and was contracted by the Oregon Zoo to breed with Rose Tu. He is also the father of Samudra, an Oregon Zoo elephant born in 2005.
The contract allows Have Trunk Will Travel to terminate its agreement with the zoo as long as they give the zoo 60 days notice.
During a news conference, Smith said the contract is "not a big deal" and that the zoo feels very strongly about the baby elephant remaining with the herd. She described the breeding loan agreement with Have Trunk Will Travel as "not uncommon."
Smith said the elephant rental company is supportive of the Oregon Zoo's mission, and that there have never been any complications between agreements with other zoos. She said there's no precedent of Have Trunk Will Travel removing an animal it owns from another zoo.
"This calf will stay here with her family and grow up with her family," Smith said.
Smith also pointed to beloved Oregon Zoo elephant Packy, born 50 years ago at the zoo. That elephant was not owned by the zoo, she said.
"We've always been transparent," Smith said of the zoo and its polices with animal ownership.
Have Trunk Will Travel has been the subject of animal rights investigations in the past and, according to the report in the Seattle Times, "has generated controversy over its 30-year history for its use of chains and bull hooks… to discipline elephants and train them to perform tricks."
At this point, the baby elephant still doesn't have a name, and the zoo's naming contest has suddenly taken a back seat to the controversy over the contract.
Have Trunk Will Travel released a statement Tuesday, saying it "has no intention and has never had any
intention of coming to take Rose-Tu's calf. Have Trunk Will Travel
supports Oregon Zoo's vision for elephants and has great appreciation
for the way they care for elephants."
Copyright 2012 KPTV (Meredith Corporation.) All rights reserved.
Tuesday, May 21 2013 3:08 PM EDT2013-05-21 19:08:59 GMT
Two Bristol men were arrested for allegedly stealing $25,000 worth of scrap metal from a business in Southington.Gary M. Desrochers and Nicholas B. Marin are accused of stealing 39,000 pounds of "tool-gradeMore >
Two Bristol men were arrested for allegedly stealing $25,000 worth of scrap metal from a business in Southington.More >
Tuesday, May 21 2013 6:03 PM EDT2013-05-21 22:03:06 GMT
A family spokesperson told Eyewitness News that the body of a missing Eastern Connecticut State University student was found dismembered. Alyssiah Wiley was last seen since April 20 when she said she wasMore >
A family spokesperson told Eyewitness News that the body of a missing Eastern Connecticut State University student was found dismembered.More >
Tuesday, May 21 2013 3:46 PM EDT2013-05-21 19:46:33 GMT
ESPN says that it is cutting its workforce. The sports media giant said in a statement Tuesday: "We are implementing changes across the company to enhance our continued growth while smartly managing costs."More >
Tuesday, May 21 2013 10:16 PM EDT2013-05-22 02:16:08 GMT
Residents in tornado-stricken Moore, OK, await news on missing love ones Tuesday, a day after a massive tornado devastated the city, killing at least 51. Rescuers worked all night, with particular attentionMore >
The tornado, with winds up to 200 mph, cut a 20-mile stretch as wide as two miles through the Oklahoma City metro area. The medical examiner's office reported 24 people died, including nine children. More >
Tuesday, May 21 2013 8:26 PM EDT2013-05-22 00:26:23 GMT
A Severe Thunderstorm Watch has been issued for the all of northern Connecticut until 9 p.m.National Weather Service officials said people should be on the lookout for threatening weather and to pay attentionMore >
Tornado and severe thunderstorm warnings were issued in Litchfield county Tuesday evening as severe weather moved into the state.More >
Tuesday, May 21 2013 11:55 AM EDT2013-05-21 15:55:17 GMT
A 18-month old baby was found not breathing at a home in Enfield Monday afternoon.Officers were called to a home on Cottage Green in the Thompsonville section of the city. Investigators found the babyMore >
Enfield police said they were investigating the death of a 19-month-old boy that was reported Monday evening.More >
Monday, May 20 2013 7:12 PM EDT2013-05-20 23:12:34 GMT
Wallingford police are looking into three college-aged girls who are going door to door looking to make more than just a sale, they're looking for a place to stay.Neighbors from East Side Drive, MeadowMore >
Wallingford police are looking into three college-aged girls who are going door-to-door looking to make more than just a sale, they're looking for a place to stay.More >
Monday, May 20 2013 11:48 PM EDT2013-05-21 03:48:15 GMT
A woman has been arrested after she allegedly locked her four young daughters out of their home for days at a time.A witness told police that the four girls, ages 7, 5, 3 and 1, had been in the same dirtyMore >
A woman has been arrested after she allegedly locked her four young daughters out of their home for days at a time.More >
Tuesday, May 21 2013 9:09 PM EDT2013-05-22 01:09:17 GMT
Happy Saturday, Rain is on its way – as expected – but it will not hamper the entire weekend. Early this morning, there will be low clouds, fog and drizzle in many parts of Connecticut. This will haveMore >