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Woodland Park Zoo Society appoints task force to evaluate elephant program and exhibit

The board of Woodland Park Zoo has appointed a panel of community leaders to evaluate all aspects of the zoo’s elephant program and exhibit, from the elephants’ health and care, to the value of having elephants at the zoo, as well as the zoo’s education and conservation objectives.


Chai, WPZ’s 34-year-old female Asian elephant. Photo by Ryan Hawk, Woodland Park Zoo.

The task force will meet for the first time from 4-7 p.m. this Thursday at the Central Library downtown, 1000 4th Ave., in the Washington Mutual Foundation Room (Level 4, Meeting Room 1). The meeting is open to the public. Written comments from the public will be accepted and made part of the record, but this is not a public hearing. Task force meetings also will be videotaped and posted on the task force website.

The task force is co-chaired by Jan Hendrickson, co-founder of Denny Hill Capital and a former WPZ board chair; and Jay Manning, an environmental attorney and former chief of staff to Gov. Christine Gregoire.

Other task force members include:

  • Marianne Bichsel, founder and president of Bichsel Public Affairs and former senior advisor to Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels;
  • Grant Degginger, chair of the Construction and Environmental Practice Group at Lane Powell PC in Seattle and former Bellevue mayor and city council member;
  • Gene Duvernoy, president of Forterra, a regional organization dedicated to land conservation;
  • Ellen Ferguson, director of community relations at the Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture;
  • Annette Laico, executive director of the Progressive Animal Welfare Society (PAWS);
  • Jeff Leppo, a law partner in the Seattle office of Stoel Rives LLP, specializing in environmental, wildlife and natural resources law;
  • Rob Liddell, M.D., medical director for Center for Diagnostic Imaging Seattle, and founding member of Woodland Park Zoo’s Conservation Committee;
  • Jeannie Nordstrom, community volunteer and YWCA board member; Bryce Seidl, president and CEO of the Pacific Science Center;
  • Andrew Shouse, Ph.D., associate director of the University of Washington Institute for Science and Math Education;
  • Lyn Tangen, former senior director, Corporate Communications, for Vulcan Inc., and legal advisor to Mayor Paul Schell;
  • Suzanne Walsh, senior program officer in education at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation;
  • Bryan Slinker, D.V.M. Ph.D., dean of the college of veterinary medicine at Washington State University.

Bichsel, Leppo, Liddell and Slinker are current members of the zoo’s board of directors. The task force is expected to name a separate panel of experts to focus on the health and care of the zoo’s elephants.