Giant bamboos are the largest members of the grass family. In bamboo, the internodal regions of the stem are usually hollow and the vascular bundles in the cross section are scattered throughout the stem instead of in a cylindrical arrangement. The dicotyledonouswoodyxylem is also absent. The absence of secondary growth wood causes the stems of monocots, including the palms and large bamboos, to be columnar rather than tapering.
Bamboos are the fastest-growing plants in the world, due to a unique rhizome-dependent system. Certain species of bamboo can grow 91cm (3ft) within a 24-hour period, at a rate of almost 4cm (1.5in) an hour (a growth around 1mm every 90 seconds, or one inch every 40 minutes). Bamboos are of notable economic and cultural significance in South Asia, Southeast Asia and East Asia, being used for building materials, as a food source, and as a versatile raw product. Bamboo has a higher compressive strength than wood, brick, or concrete and a tensile strength that rivals steel.
Bamboo is an Asian elephant residing at the Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle, Washington that has been at the center of controversy for several years. Her reputation as a troubled elephant, allegedly due to past abuse and an inadequate life at the Zoo, has caused animal rights activists such as Friends of Woodland Park Zoo Elephants to fight for the release of the Zoo's elephants to a sanctuary. According to the Zoo's website, Bamboo weighs 8,800 pounds and is the most inquisitive of its three elephants.
Bamboo was born in Thailand in November 1966 and was captured from the wild as a very young calf. She was imported into the United States and arrived at the Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle, Washington on June 1, 1967. She lived at the Children's Zoo in the Family Farm before moving to the old Elephant House. Former Director of the Zoo, David Hancocks, recalled that Bamboo was once a playful, trustworthy, and cooperative elephant who could be walked on Zoo grounds and use the entire park as her playground. According to Hancocks, who left the Zoo in 1984, harsh management methods such as discipline and overnight chaining were reintroduced after his departure. As a result, Bamboo earned a reputation as a dangerous and "difficult" elephant.