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Should L.A. Zoo take in two new elephants?


The decision by the L.A. Zoo to accept two elephants from the San Diego Zoo is sparking controversy.

TalkbackAs The Times' Carla Hall and Tony Perry reported, "Tina and Jewel are female Asian elephants of un certain age who between them have endured foot problems and dental surgery. They will be on indefinite loan from the San Diego Zoo, both zoos announced Friday."

Zoos across the country have come under fire for their treatment of the giant mammals -- and activists have focused particular attention on the L.A. Zoo

Catherine Doyle, elephant campaign director for the advocacy group In Defense of Animals, said she feels the elephants deserve better. "Actually it feels like a betrayal for the elephants," Doyle said. "The San Diego Zoo shouldn't have taken them if they didn't plan to keep them. These elephants have had a very hard life, and they deserve to go to a permanent and stable situation." 

What do you think? Share your views.

Photo: Tina and Jewel spent years with a Texas circus trainer who was cited by the U.S. Agriculture Department for inadequate veterinary care. When the San Diego Zoo acquired them 14 months ago, they had to be nursed back to health Credit: Ken Bohn / San Diego Zoo

Comments () | Archives (77)

Nothing that can't be solved by the "animal rights" activists' usual tactics, that is, assaults on animal services employees and vandalism and arson of their residences. In the name of humane treatment, naturally.

I went to the LA zoo once and was truly saddened by the condition of the elephant there. She was coughing and stamping, seemed totally neurotic, and the depression brought on by her situation was rolling off her in waves. I don't think it speaks well for our city or our species to keep intelligent, social animals like elephants in little prison-like pens just for our amusement. In any case, I just left the zoo feeling demoralized. Not sure that two more elephants added to the pen will improve matters for viewers, and certainly not for the elephants themselves. If they want to get more elephants, then they should spend the necessary money to improve their conditions to something that is tolerable, even highly livable, for the creatures. It doesn't do any good for Los Angeles to participate in the incarceration of intelligent beings.

If only we could provide perfect care for all creatures.

San Diego Zoo has provided extensive care to correct years of neglect (documents date from 1994). "While IDA (In Defense of Animals) would have preferred that the elephants be transferred to a sanctuary, we recognize that the zoo is providing these long-suffering elephants with desperately needed veterinary care. At the San Diego Zoo, Tina and Jewel are being handled in protected contact, free from beatings, domination and the misery of circus life." (from the IDA website.)

I believe Jewel and Tina went to the SD Zoo, not for a permanent home, but for the premier veterinary care they so desperately needed. Now they will have a stable home and receive appropriate care at the LA Zoo.

And they'll educate those who come to see them on the harsh treatment many performing animals endure, creating new animal activists who'll work to retire other performing animals to your PAWS/ARK sanctuary.

These animals should be placed on a wide open preserve and those that wish to visit can pay admission which will go towards the animals care. Zoo's are just too small to pack all those animals together and avoid contagious diseases, taking shots at animal activists does not help. If we did not have these people that CARE, the whole country would be over run with non native species shipped here simply for our amusement. We're better than this, STOP using animals in ALL performances, zoo's and anywhere that is unnatural for them to be!!!

The San Diego Zoo has a history of discarding elephants who don't meet their display standards - just a few years ago, it shipped aging elephants Peaches, Tatima and Wankie to the frigid Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago, and all three died within two years. Shame on the zoo industry - and for the ignorant public that supports it.

Elephants are extremely large creatures. No zoo can provide enough space for animals of such size. Elephants belong in the wild and not in captivity. Keeping such large animals in limited enclosures as the LA Zoo plans to provide is inhumane and teaches out children that it is OK to treat animals inhumanely.

Ms. Doyle knows as much about elephants and their care as a 5 year old knows about atomic power. Comments from Mickey Hart, RowanM and David Adams aren't surprising - they know as much as Ms. Doyle. LA Zoo is creating a new elephant facility and Tina and Jewel will do fine there - they won't have to do 'rides' as they did with their former owner and will receive the care they need. Animal rights activists have made elephants the latest poster animals for the AR drive to their ultimate goal..elimination of zoos. IDA and the rest don't care about elephants, despite all their blah blah to the contrary...they only care about their agenda.

I think we should all educate ourselves about elephants and what they need to thrive. We must do what is right for these magnificent animals. PAWS will give them freedom without being looked at and on display. Thank you, PAWS for all you do....

There should be a wild animal park with 1000 acres or more for these magnificant creatures to roam and enjoy. We really have no business taking these elephants and putting them in a cage or what we call a habitat. Its nothing more than putting an elephant in prison so people can gaulk at them. Why not set them free in our National Parks like we do bison and monitor their progress. These animals will be gone one day and when we look back at what we could have done to save them, we will all be ashamed at ourselves!

Please do not subject these magnificent giants to a life in a zoo. They deserve Sanctuary with other elephants and room to roam and elephant family.

Studies have shown that zoo elephants die way before their time. Give them long life, give them Sanctuary.

Of course they should go to the LA Zoo with it's fine new enclosure for them! Diane

My first thought: bad idea

Kudos to the L.A. Zoo for providing a home for these two elephants, who it seems have had it rough in the past. This is a great day for L.A.!

I think this is a wonderful day for Billy. He will finally get 2 new conpanions in a beutiful new facility. Tina and Jewel are perfect. They have not bonded with the rest of the San Diego elephants, and are past their physical problems thanks to the San Diego Zoo keepers, who will be overseeing their stay in Los Angeles.

LA Zoo is run like the city of LA. First they lost their accreditation. By getting rid of many animals, leaving a zoo that looked more like a pay to go in animal farm, the powers in charge were able to get it back. Many stores were built in the front to generate income while a huge building for meeting was worked on. Somewhere along the line a few animals came back along with the accreditation. What we have left are a few new display areas and less animals. Nothing has improved there in 30 years unless y0u call building stores in the front and a huge sign with LA Zoo on it an improvement.

This will be great for the LA Zoo, Elephants and it guests. The new LA zoo Elephant Exhibit which is scheduled to open later this year will be wonderful. It will be spacious and should provide a excellent environment for the Elephants. Billy will finally have some company and the guests of the LA
Zoo will be able to enjoy elephants much as the guests of the San Diego Zoo do. Tina and Jewel will be lucky ladies to live in this new exhibit.

After the life Tina and Jewel have been forced to live, beaten abused for decades to make them perform circus acts, is a crime in itself, then finally the USDA confiscates and sends them to their new home. They have improved physical and mentally, and now you've decided it is best for them to go to another zoo, you are going to up root them yet again, again and again.
These elephant deserve to go to a forever home, and they can only have this at one of two places, The Elephant Sanctuary in Tenn or PAWS in northern California.

If you truly cared about their long term welfare, you would pack up their trunks and move them to a elephant sanctuary where they can live out their lives in a natural settings forever, never to be moved again.

Statement from Association of Zoo and Aquariums Executive Director Kristin Vehrs:

“It is important for elephants to be cared for in an AZA-accredited facility because they have the expertise and the resources to properly care for elephants.”

Ms. Vehrs, please tell my why then the AZA failed to discipline the Los Angeles Zoo when they transferred Ruby in 2007 to a non-accredited facility, which according to AZA guidelines they are required to do. The current director, Mr. Lewis, made that decision. Either Mr. Lewis showed extremely poor judgment and his position should be reviewed, or Mr. Lewis found the non-accredited facility met all the necessary standards. Which one is it? Can't have it both ways, Ms. Vehrs. I believe there are two other active directors who transferred their elephants to a non-accredited facility. And like the Los Angeles Zoo they were not disciplined. Perhaps the AZA accreditation isn't worth the paper it is written on.

To stand and watch these animals, to hear them breathe and to listen to their sounds. Really...how many of us can realistically travel to Africa? Yay! for the San Diego
Zoo for partnering with the LA Zoo and loaning them these two awesome creatures. The LA Zoo guests will be amazed and perhaps inspired to save the Wild Elephant. I view this as a plus for all.

The City of Los Angeles among other cities, has just spent a considerable amount of money making the L.A. Zoo elephant arena a virtually similar environment to an elephant's natural habitat. Gone are the cement and asphalt and other anthropomorphic sensibilities. While sanctuaries are a wonderful addition to animal husbandry, the modern zoos provide an educational tool that sanctuaries do not. In addition, most sanctuaries are far from urban centers, which prevents current and future generations from seeing these magnificent creatures and participating in their future well-being.

No, these poor elephants should go to a sanctuary. There is a good one available called PAWS. They would be guaranteed a forever home there and taken good care of, unlike the L.A. Zoo that offers no guarantee.

Right now a law is being voted on for the ban of Bull-Hooks on these animals in the circus. People have not done their research. They are ripped away at 24 mos. beaten and prodded till their spirit is broken. How else can a Mammoth creature of this size roll on balls? Maybe a mouse would be fine, right? They need to walk 50-60 miles a day in herds on DIRT, not cement. In the zoos they are dying 1/2 their age because of wrong environmental issues. Upon cement they are getting foot and nail infections. The elephant at the L.A. Zoo eventually had to be fit a leg brace. These animals are enourmous and need to exercise - after seeing documentaries of elephants at Sanctuaries where they are throwing tires around and their ears are flapping, I sure can see the difference. Please deliver them to a Sanctuary!

The L.A. Zoo should not take in any more elephants or house any elephants, period. Elephants roam from 20-50 miles a day-space that the L.A. Zoo cannot provide. Please don't bring more elephants to this Auschwitz for elephants. Send Billy to a sanctuary with enough roaming area and close the L.A. Zoo elephant exhibit.

No zoo has adequate space for an elephant. This is purely common sense. Instinct is a strong force. Elephants are nomadic creatures. They travel in herds and cover vast swaths of land in their normal habitat. It doesn't matter how plush and expensive the accommodations,it's not going to be enough space to live true to it's instincts. It's like putting an eagle in a shiny 14k gold cage with diamond encrusted perches and endless supplies of food. If the animal isn't allowed to follow it's instincts, it still won't be happy.
The condition and early demise of the elephants who have resided at the L.A. Zoo in the past lay testimony to this fact.

It's high time these poor elephants had a decent life, instead of being moved around. They would be far happier at a sanctuary where they would have miles to roam and the ability to do what they want when they want - in other words, a life of freedom. Captivity in a small space is no life for a creature as large as an elephant.

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