First basketball, now elephants stir up Seattle-Oklahoma City rivalry

Thu Mar 5, 2015 10:08pm EST
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By Heide Brandes

OKLAHOMA CITY (Reuters) - For some in Seattle still angered by the move of the city's NBA team to Oklahoma City, the move of elephants from a zoo in the Emerald City to one in the Red Dirt state stings in a familiar way.

Seattle's Woodland Park Zoo, which is phasing out its elephant exhibit, said last week it would move its Asian elephants named Bamboo and Chai to the Oklahoma City Zoo, which has a social herd of elephants and a modern facility for the pachyderms.

"First they steal our basketball team, now they want our elephants! Is there no satisfying Oklahoma City," one reader wrote in a comment section of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer newspaper, referring to the Seattle SuperSonics' move to Oklahoma City in 2008.

On Thursday, Sally Bagshaw, a member of Seattle's City Council said members will not block the move to Oklahoma but would rather see Woodland move the elephants to a sanctuary, local media report said.

Woodland Park Zoo said it had spent three months evaluating a new home for Bamboo and Chai and the Oklahoma City Zoo was the best match.

Dwight Lawson, the executive director of the Oklahoma City Zoo said: "Adding Bamboo and Chai will help round out our family."

Opponents contend the 40-hour drive to the new home would be too stressful for the animals and that Oklahoma City's climate could pose a danger.

Woodland Park Zoo President Deborah Jensen said most zoo goers are sad to see the elephants leave but understand the reasoning for the move, with the basketball history not making much of an impact.   Continued...