December 4th, 2012 7:27 pm | by AARON MESH News | Posted In: Environment, PDX News, Business

Elephant Rental Company Says It Isn't "Coming to Take" Oregon Zoo Calf

The California-based traveling show that owns the rights to the elephant born last week at the Oregon Zoo says it won't take away the calf.

Kari Johnson owns Have Trunk Will Travel with her husband Gary. They struck a 2005 deal to bring the bull elephant Tusko to breed at the Oregon Zoo in exchange for ownership of the second, fourth and sixth calves he sired.

She wrote WW tonight to say the company, which rents out elephants to movie productions, weddings and regional fairs, never intended to claim the second calf born to Oregon Zoo elephant Rose-Tu.

"Have Trunk Will Travel has no intention and has never had any intention of coming to take Rose-Tu’s calf," Johnson wrote. "Have Trunk Will Travel supports Oregon Zoo’s vision for elephants and has great appreciation for the way they care for elephants. We are very proud of the significant contribution we have made together for Asian elephants."

"We could not be more excited about the birth of this new calf," she added.

But an Oregonian story from when Rose-Tu's pregnancy was announced in November 2011 shows that the zoo's initial message was that the calf might not stay in Portland for its whole life.

"The new calf would remain at the zoo until he or she is at least 4, and perhaps permanently," reporter Katy Muldoon wrote then. "Terms of the breeding loan give Have Trunk Will Travel a possible claim to the calf if such a move is approved by the Species Survival Plan, which manages captive-elephant populations."

Zoo officials told WW this afternoon that they are negotiating to buy the calf outright from Have Trunk Will Travel, which was accused last year of cruelty toward its elephants.

The Seattle Times reported last night that Have Trunk Will Travel will own the calf 30 days after its birth.
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