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L.A. Zoo supporters to rally for elephant exhibit

January 26, 2009 |  9:19 am

Hundreds of Los Angeles Zoo employees, children and community members, including rock guitarist Slash, are expected today at an 11 a.m. City Hall rally in support of completing the zoo’s Pachyderm Forest.

The planned future home to 23-year-old Billy the elephant, the Pachyderm Forest is a $42-million, 6-acre proposal that began in 2006 but was put on hold a month ago. Some animal-rights activists said the area still would not provide enough roaming room, and Councilman Tony Cardenas proposed that Billy, the zoo’s lone Asian elephant, be sent instead to a sanctuary in San Andreas.

After spending $12 million, the city stopped the project to reconsider. But L.A. Zoo supporters, including Councilman Tom LaBonge, believe the best interest of the endangered elephant lies in finishing the Pachyderm Forest, which is 30% complete. Celebrities including actress Betty White, TV host Jack Hanna and musician Slash have gotten behind the project.

“It’s really well done,” Slash said on a YouTube video posted last week. “It gives the elephants an amazing amount of room to be able to move around and activities and so on. Plus it’s a beautiful exhibit for the patrons to be able to come see the elephants.”

-- Corina Knoll