Oregon’s favorite elephant is the “elephant in the room” when it comes to one political campaign.

Packy may also be the reason Oregon Zoo Director Kim Smith was replaced late Monday afternoon and, also, why veterinarian Mitch Finnegan has left the zoo.

The Portland Tribune says, officially, no reasons were given for the departures. Metro operates the zoo and says it is agency policy not to comment on personnel matters.

But “Free the Oregon Zoo Elephants” (FOZE) is talking. The group staged a protest at the zoo when it held the annual Packy birthday party.

Photo: Oregon Zoo

Photo: Oregon Zoo

The highlight of the party is to see Packy tear into a giant carrot cake. But for the first time in 52 years Packy was a no show and FOZE is blaming rumored foot trouble.
Meanwhile, in the race to oust Metro president Tom Hughes, challenger Jeremiah Johnson, who is a member of FOZE, is taking credit for the departure of Zoo director Smith and veterinarian Finnegan.

In a Facebook post, Johnson wrote “We are already making an impact! Metro fired the Zoo director and the lead veterinarian! Imagine if this is the impact I have when I’m just a candidate what I can do once I get in office!”

There is another protest planned for Thursday, May 8 at the Metro offices at 600 NE Grand Avenue in Portland.
The protest will be outside at 12:30 PM followed by testimony before the Metro board at 2 PM. The meeting is open to the public.