Barn to be rededicated to Cindy the elephant

Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium invites the community to a brief ceremony on Sunday, Feb. 16, during which the zoo’s elephant barn will be rededicated to the memory of Cindy the elephant. The ceremony begins at 4 p.m.

Community members will have an opportunity to share their memories of the much beloved Asian elephant, who spent about two-thirds of her life at Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium. She died Nov. 19.

The ceremony is an effort to bring closure to the community and zoo staff over the loss of Cindy, who delighted generations of zoo visitors. The event will occur three days before the anniversary of Cindy’s much-heralded return from San Diego and Portland in 1992 and the opening of the elephant barn, which was built specifically for her.

Her return brought about a new approach in caring for elephants at the zoo. Called “protected contact,” the reward-based system keeps a barrier between elephants and zookeepers. The highly successful approach, which eliminates the need to establish dominance over the animal, has spread to about half of North American zoos.

“Cindy’s legacy, besides her place in the hearts of thousands of Tacoma residents, is ‘protected contact,’ which without doubt has vastly improved the lives of elephants and elephant keepers,” said John Houck, Deputy Director of Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium.