Blair Csuti, who convened an international conference on elephant foot care for the Oregon Zoo in 1998, can’t understand why his former employer still hasn’t learned its lesson. Photo by Vadim Makoyed

Blair Csuti, who convened an international conference on elephant foot care for the Oregon Zoo in 1998, can’t understand why his former employer still hasn’t learned its lesson. Photo by Vadim Makoyed

No place for elephants

The Oregon Zoo has had ample evidence since the 1990s that deadly foot problems are unavoidable when elephants can’t roam. Still, they promise all will be better next year.

Allan Classen

The Oregon Zoo touts the coming 6-acre Elephant Lands and its special yard with 4 feet of “extra soft” golf course sand as the answer to the chronic foot problems that plague half of all elephants in zoos.

But the $53 million facility opening next year will bring more relief to the zoo’s image than the pachyderms’ sore feet. And the Oregon Zoo knows this as well as anyone.

In 1998, the Oregon Zoo hosted an international conference bringing top veterinarians and researchers together to advance understanding of the leading cause of euthanasia in captive elephants.

The conference was organized by Blair Csuti, a biologist who was in charge of the zoo’s conservation programs from 1997-2006, when his position was eliminated as part of broader budget cuts.

Csuti, who now works for the Oregon State University Forestry Department, lives about a mile from the zoo, and he still can’t reconcile how the knowledge gleaned 16 years ago has been all but ignored.

Csuti testified last May at a Metro hearing at which Friends of the Oregon Zoo Elephants protested treatment of zoo elephants. About 40 individuals spoke—some with props and one wearing a mask—and by the time the soft-spoken PhD took his three-minute turn at the microphone, his simple but authoritative conclusion that elephants cannot live healthy lives in zoos seemed lost in the shuffle. ▶

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CAUGHT ON THE TILT-A-WHIRL

Won’t someone please let me off?

Allan Classen

A couple shares a “selfie” moment behind their towering burgers. Photo by Julie Keefe

A couple shares a “selfie” moment behind their towering burgers. Photo by Julie Keefe

Let’s start right off with the positive: The Northwest 13th and Everett outpost of the restaurant called Tilt—the original is on Swan Island—is always jammed with youngish millennials who seem to be enjoying themselves immensely. Bully for them. Everyone should have such fun. How they are managing it, however, may be one of the great mysteries of our time.

Tilt opened last December and has come to epitomize all the very worst qualities of a modern restaurant. Food, service and setting are each substandard in their own special ways. Each time I’ve visited, I ended up looking around for hidden cameras thinking this must be some new and awful reality show where the customers are hapless targets of multifaceted culinary abuse.

The most frustrating aspect of the Tilt experience has to be its institutionalization of ▶

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INSIDE:

No place for elephants. No members allowed. Central city plan considers building heights. Pearl has what it takes in current economy. Neighbors strike compromise on Japanese Garden expansion.
And More

That’s a nice declaration, Thomas, but there are liability issues.

That’s a nice declaration, Thomas, but there are liability issues.

We the people - insurance companies

Allan Classen

The riches of the city may be its citizens, but for Portland neighborhood associations, the riches of insurance companies are what matter.

If that sounds like a strange leap, follow with me.

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