Despite contract, Oregon Zoo claims baby elephant 'will be here for life'

PORTLAND, Ore. - A strange and shocking development came to light Monday night after The Seattle Times reported that Rose-Tu's new baby elephant born just last week belongs to a traveling circus.

According to The Times, the Oregon Zoo has a valid contract with the traveling circus known as "Have Trunk Will Travel" and doesn't have legal custody of the calf. According to a contract obtained by The Times, Have Trunk Will Travel is the rightful owner the second offspring of bull elephant Tusko, which is this baby.

The contact says Have Trunk Will Travel can obtain ownership of the elephant calf after it has been alive for 30 days. 30 days after the birth will be Dec. 30.

Zoo spokesman Hova Najarian confirmed the existence of the contract to KATU News late Monday night but said the zoo is in talks with the traveling circus to keep the calf in Portland.

In an email, Najarian said reports of the contract are "true" but also said it has been "no secret" and reported on by local media in the past.

"The elephant is not going anywhere. The elephant will be here for life," said Najarian. He said a news conference with Zoo director Kim Smith to "address the inaccuracies in today's Seattle Times article" is planned for Tuesday morning at 8:30 a.m., according to a press release.

A post on the Oregon Zoo's Facebook page Tuesday morning read:

Rest assured the fate of the zoo's latest arrival is not, and has never been in question. We will be clarifying the inaccuracies contained in this article and will reach out in the morning to local media with more information. The zoo remains committed to its vision of "elephants being elephants" and allowing the opportunity for them to live in family groups for generations.

According to The Times, "Have Trunk Will Travel," is controversial and rents out elephants to the entertainment industry.

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