Amid all the hot-dang media-blitzing that Oregon Zoo managers engaged in during the months leading up to the birth of their latest elephant calf, you'd have thought it might have occurred to them to mention one teeny little detail - to which I alluded here last month:
...it's showtime, and the calf's got traveling shoes.
Instead, the people were treated to a veritable parade of zoo "managers", all standing in front of the camera, first chatting up the impending birth and then delivering a congratulatory synopsis of the blessed event. Heck, they even dragged out a guy who has a whopping seven years of actual elephant experience - and who is now a "director" of elephant housing (or something like that) to hold forth on television.
Now, one might think that somewhere amid all the verbiage and general promotion, it might have occurred to at least one of these "trained, experienced professionals" to mention one salient little point, right up front, and with a full explanation of the circumstances. It's not an uncommon arrangement, after all: dam Rose-Tu's sire, "Hugo", was obtained "for free" by the zoo from owners Ringling Brothers Barnum and Baily under a similar arrangement - (though Hugo subsequently cost the zoo approximately $100,000 in replacement costs for all of the barn doors he broke).
Yes, one might have thought that the professionals at Metro Oregon Zoo might have mentioned that little detail during their many promotional appearances, but one would have been wrong: not only did they not mention it, but when asked about the arrangement, Metro Oregon Zoo reportedly lied about it; claiming no such arrangement existed - until they were presented with a copy of the very contract that they had signed. Note: KGW has modified their original story; removing the part wherein they noted that the zoo denied the existence of any such contract - and the controversy swirls on. The Seattle Times report is here.
Hova Najarian, a spokeswoman for the Oregon Zoo in Portland, initially denied knowledge of the contract, saying Friday the unnamed newborn "is here for life."
After The Times provided a copy of the contract, zoo officials responded with a statement:
"The contract is valid. As per the agreement, official designation of ownership takes effect after the calf has lived 30 days. Once that happens, the Oregon Zoo will be in discussion with Have Trunk Will Travel regarding ownership, and it is the zoo's intent to retain Rose-Tu's calf."
But under terms of the contract, the zoo does not have the power to keep the elephant if Have Trunk Will Travel wants to take possession.
Now, they're running around, claiming that the calf will stay in Portland. Maybe it will, and maybe it won't. Certainly, the owners can at any time relocate the animal to a location of their choosing.
And equally certain, as some have known for several years, the "managers" at Metro Oregon Zoo can be neither believed nor trusted. It's one thing to "forget" to mention transaction details; quite another to deliberately lie and obfuscate.