Once again this past August, Linda headed to Oregon and Washington – to visit some great two and four-legged friends and celebrate World Elephant Day. First stop is Portland, Oregon, where Ann Littlewood, once a zookeeper and now an author (Linda’s favorite: Did Not Survive) invited us to stay with her and hubby, as well as visiting aunt and niece. A lovely home with some very good conversations definitely added a special joy to this visit. At the Oregon Zoo, Shawn Finnell brought Linda up to date on their elephants as we watched them. And it was good to see Samson settling in so well at his ‘new digs’. Saw him three years ago when he was contributing to the Albuquerque Zoo’s breeding program. Now he’s moved north to work his magic!
Point Defiance, Washington, is always a favorite stop. John Houck, deputy director, is preparing to don the new cap of ‘retirement’ (that definitely doesn’t mean ‘does nothing!’ – not with individuals of John’s ilk). On Linda’s visit he gave her a tour of their to-open-in-September new aquarium. It will be a truly wonderful experience for all who visit Point Defiance Zoo. Linda, of course, always stops to say hello to Hanako and Suki, as well as Shannon Smith and the rest of the elephant barn staff. Andy, Margaret, and Russell joined us for lunch. Like so many busy elephant keepers, these folks also make time for our visits and always make visits so very warm and welcomed. And best to you, John, as you find out how darn busy it is possible to be when one retires! Shannon and John Woodland Park Zoo’s invitation to participate in their Wild Asia Festival is the impetus for this trip. WPZ has been supporting Dr. Christopher Stremme’s work in Sumatra for several years and we are always delighted to visit and share an update of Dr. Stremme and AES’ work on behalf of Asian elephants. It is also especially nice to accept this invitation as WPZ has helped us, not only by funding Dr. Stremme, but also by hosting a CPK event for us. Bobbi Miller, Field Conservation Coordinator, has become a special friend over the passing years as we shoulder on for Asian elephants. On Friday, Linda gave an update at a lunchtime talk and Saturday she had a table during the Wild Asia Festival to talk about AES’ efforts in Asian range countries. The Pacific Northwest is awesome… but it’s not just the scenery. For AES, it is the many warm, wonderful, capable, and dedicated staff at these three zoos. We are fortunate to have such people on the side of the Asian elephant, helping this magnificent species make its difficult trek to the next century. Thank you friends!