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New Elephant Facility Put on Hold at Los Angeles Zoo

help elephants in zoos

Billy, the zoo’s lone elephant, takes a dip as handler Vicky Guarnett tries to get his attention. On Monday, the City Council’s budget and finance committee met and discussed whether the zoo project should be shut down.  Project is now on hold.

Wading elephant at the L.A. Zoo

A city councilman and animal welfare advocates worry the 3.6-acre ‘Pachyderm Forest’ won’t provide enough space and are concerned about overall care. Zoo officials say they’re mimicking the wild.

Background

We are very close to freeing Billy and stopping the practice of keeping elephants at L.A. Zoo.

Like other urban zoos across the country, L.A. Zoo is unable to provide the vast acreage needed by elephants, who can walk tens of miles a day in the wild and have home ranges of 120 square miles or more. Yet the Zoo is embarking on a 3.5-acre elephant exhibit renovation at a cost to taxpayers of $42 million that still will not provide the space elephants need. Even worse, this small amount of space is subdivided into four yards, and the planned barn can hold as many as 10 elephants. (The Zoo may initially hold fewer elephants but plans to breed.)

However, new information was brought to light that was not presented to the L.A. City Council when they voted in 2006 to approve funding for the exhibit renovation.

Council members were not aware of the zoo¹s tragic record of thirteen dead elephants since 1975 or the fact that more than half of those elephants did not live to age 20. An elephant¹s natural lifespan is 60 to 70 years.

They also were not provided the entire fiscal picture, including the projected yearly cost of maintaining elephants at L.A. Zoo. If the zoo were to hold eight elephants, it would cost the already cash-strapped City of L.A. about $1 million per year just to care for them.

Based on the above, Councilmember Tony Cardenas presented a motion in October that would stop the L.A. Zoo¹s elephant exhibit renovation and send its only elephant, Billy, to a sanctuary.

The motion was heard by the full L.A. City Council on November 19th, and now goes to the Budget & Finance Committee for further discussion in the first week of December. It will then return to the full council that same week for a final vote.

More than ever, we need your help to rescue Billy, who has been living in solitary confinement at L.A. Zoo for more than two years. Elephants are highly social animals, including the males, making Billy¹s confinement all that more inhumane. Billy displays zoochotic behavior, repetitively bobbing his head up and down, a result of stress and boredom. This behavior is not seen in wild elephants.

Watch a video on Billy and the L.A. Zoo. For more information on how you can help Billy, please see below.

TARA AND GITA

The most recent deaths at L.A. Zoo include 39-year-old Tara, an African elephant who died in 2004. Keepers found her down on the ground one morning and unable to get up due to severe arthritis. She died shortly thereafter.

Similarly, keepers found 48-year-old Gita down one morning, and she died later that day. She, too, had suffered from advanced arthritis, as revealed in her necropsy (her body was riddled with the disease). IDA exposed the terrible failure of Zoo personnel to take action after observing Gita down early during the night prior to her death. It was later determined that Gita may have needlessly and painfully suffered for as long as 12 to 17 hours before getting veterinary attention. She had also suffered chronic foot infections throughout her life, which eventually led to the partial amputation of one toe in September 2005. IDA requested an USDA investigation into Tara and Gita¹s deaths, the results of which are still pending after two years.

RUBY

After years of intense campaigning by IDA, Ruby made an historic journey in May 2006 from her tiny, off-exhibit enclosure at L.A. Zoo, where she was held alone, to her new home at the PAWS Sanctuary in Northern California. Ruby is thriving on more than 70 acres of rolling, grassy hills and happily shares the company of other African elephants!

What You Can Do

– Please keep all communications concise and polite. We are trying to influence city officials to support our position, and negativity will not get us the votes we need. Please don’t give anyone an excuse to vote against this important issue!

– If you are a Los Angeles resident, please write and call city council members and express your strong opposition to spending millions of dollars of your taxpayer money on an inadequate elephant exhibit at L.A. Zoo. Urge him or her to help send Billy to a sanctuary and to close the Zoo¹s elephant exhibit. Click here to locate your City Council member online. You can also dial 311 within the City of Los Angeles, or call 213-473-3231 from the Greater Los Angeles area.

– Please write to L.A. Mayor Villaraigosa at mayor@lacity.org thanking him for the great strides the city has made toward becoming more humane. Ask that he reject spending millions of dollars of taxpayer money on an inadequate elephant exhibit at L.A. Zoo. Urge him to send Billy to a sanctuary and to close the Zoo¹s elephant exhibit.

CONTACTS:

Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa
Los Angeles City Hall
200 N. Spring St.
Los Angeles, CA 90012
Phone: 213-978-0600 Fax: 213-978-0750
Email: mayor@lacity.org

District 1 – Ed Reyes
Phone: 213-473-7001 Fax: 213-485-8907
Email: councilmember.reyes@lacity.org

District 2 – Wendy Greuel
Phone: 213-473-7002 Fax: 213-680-7895
Email: councilmember.greuel@lacity.org

District 3 – Dennis P. Zine
Phone: 213-473-7003
Email: councilmember.zine@lacity.org

District 4 – Tom LaBonge
Phone: 213-473-7004 Fax: 213-624-7810
Email: councilmember.labonge@lacity.org

District 5 – Jack Weiss
Phone: 213-473-7005 Fax: 213-978-2250
Email: councilmember.weiss@lacity.org

District 6 – Tony Cardenas
Phone: 213-473-7006 Fax: 213-847-0549
Email: councilmember.cardenas@lacity.org

District 7 – Richard Alarcon
Phone: 213-473-7007 Fax: 213-847-0707
use contact form at http://www.lacity.org/council/cd7/contact.htm

District 8 – Bernard Parks
Phone: 213-473-7008 Fax: 213-485-7683
Email: councilmember.parks@lacity.org

District 9 – Jan Perry
Phone: 213-473-7009 Fax: 213-473-5946
Email: jan.perry@lacity.org

District 10 – Herb J. Wesson, Jr.
Phone: 213-473-7010 Fax: 213-485-9829
Email: councilmember.wesson@lacity.org

District 11 – Bill Rosendahl
Phone: 213-473-7011 Fax: 213-473-6926
Email: councilmember.rosendahl@lacity.org

District 12 – Greig Smith
Phone: 213-473-7012 Fax: 213-473-6925
Email: councilmember.smith@lacity.org

District 13 – Eric Garcetti
Phone: 213-473-7013 Fax: 213-613-0819
Email: councilmember.garcetti@lacity.org

District 14 – Jose Huizar
Phone: 213-473-7014 Fax: 213-847-0680
Email: councilmember.huizar@lacity.org

District 15 – Janice Hahn
Phone: 213-473-7015 Fax: 213-626-5431
Email: councilmember.hahn@lacity.org

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December 4, 2008 Posted by | animals, Just One More Pet, Political Change, Stop Animal Cruelty, We Are All God's Creatures | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment