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Two elephants from San Diego arrive at L.A. Zoo

Elephants Two Asian elephants have arrived at their new home, the Los Angeles Zoo, about a month before the scheduled opening of their new exhibit.

Tina and Jewel, estimated to be 43 to 45 years old, are on indefinite loan from the San Diego Zoo. They were transported in specially designed elephant crates and accompanied by their former curators, keepers and veterinarians, Los Angeles Zoo officials said in a statement.

The Los Angeles Zoo’s six-acre, $42-million Asian elephant exhibit is scheduled to open Dec.16.

The zoo has been under fire for its treatment of the large mammals. Animal-rights advocates argue that zoos do not provide enough space for the roaming animals and that elephants need a stable living environment, rather than being transferred from place to place.

Tina and Jewel arrived at the San Diego Zoo just over a year ago and had to be nursed back to health after spending years with a Texas circus trainer who was cited by the U.S. Agriculture Department for inadequate veterinary care.

When they arrived at their new Los Angeles home, the female elephants "vocalized with trumpets, squeaks and chirps," officials said in the statement.

Billy, a 25-year-old elephant who already lives at the zoo, stood outside the barn, watching the new arrivals and occasionally vocalizing towards them.

Staff from the San Diego Zoo will stay in Los Angeles for awhile to help ease the transition of the elephants, who have lived together for nearly 30 years.

-- Stephen Ceasar

Photo: Tina and Jewel. Credit: San Diego Zoo

Comments () | Archives (16)

The LA Zoo's next victims. So sad.

Six acres?!?!? FREE BILLY! (and Tina and Jewel).

It is so wonderful to see this effort to breed these majestic endangered animals to help bring them back from the brink of extinction. Congratulations to the Los Angeles Zoo and the City Council for understanding this and having the compassion and foresite to do the right thing. Oh sure there will be the typical rhetoric from those who fail to understand our responsibility as human beings. The irony here is these are the same people who cry to save the whales and save the spotted owls but could care less if the elephant goes extinct. All they care about is having them free in the wild to be slaughtered by poachers. Maybe if they just put some of that effort to help rid the African continent of these poachers so that we could return them to the wild. If only....

Cue the anti-zoo trolls. I know you hate to see the common folk getting enjoyment out of something so barbaric as a zoo. Why can't these people spend their recreation time doing yoga in the produce section of Whole Foods like us?

It would be funny to see an animal rights protester get sprayed with water by an elephant, and then they fall in a puddle, and everybody laughs.

Lighten up! Zoos are one of the last hopes for endangered animals.

What a concept, we as humans making sure species that we have distroyed their habitat; their babies and thousands from their lot, now we give them extra care and treat them humanely!
Years ago I touched my first elephant at the elephant ride at the LA Zoo.
Times have changed, but since then i was so inspired I have been to Thailand and Africa to see how these gentle giants really live. If you every have the
gift of looking an elephant in the eye, you won't forget it!
What a lucky guy, he has to lady elephants to court now.
Thanks to folks like Betty White and the nameless who have made this possible!
Made my day reading the story!


These two animals are, quite possibly, the last two Republicans left in California.

Yay for Billy and welcome Jewell and Tina. Billy and these girls deserve the new amazing home they are getting. It was a long road and a long fight for you "Billy" but absolutely worth it when we see you enjoying your pools, new yards, and greeting your new companions.

There are critics of the L.A. Zoo because 13 elephants have died there prematurely, far too many for one zoo to have lost. In fact, the USDA fined the L.A. Zoo for their most recent elephant death a few years ago- Gita died from severe and painful Osteomyelitis, and had been down for several hours without medical care, let alone a single employee intervention. This has left not only a bad taste in many Angelenos' mouth, but what many of us fear is that the L.A Zoo simply cannot care for, or just aren't educated in the proper care of these magnificent mammoth animals. I personnally am frightened for any elephant that may end up there, whether they are "on-loan" or permanent. The zoo is also falsely advertising the new elephant exhibit as being on 6 acres, while in reality the elephants will only have access to half that amount of space, the rest will be walkways and other areas for humans. Quoting veteran elephant scientist and researcher, Dr. Joyce Poole PHD, "Elephants need space to walk for both mind and body". This zoo's meager 3 acres just doesn't cut it. What's even sadder is that Billy, the zoo's lone elephant for the last few years, won't have access to even the full 3 acres, and will be in a seperated area as male Bull elephants in captivity can't be put together with females. Bull elephants are far too strong, and the protection of the females has to be taken into account. My last concern is that Tina and Jewel have had some health issues, and I believe these may be foot and or arthritic problems. With the city of Los Angeles nearly broke, and the zoo just making ends meet, where will the money come from if Tina and Jewel need monthly Vet care? Gita's vet bills cost the zoo several thousand dollars a month! What was the San Diego Zoo thnking???.....

Wow! 50 Million Dollars to build this exhibit. Yes you wonderful LA Zoo supporters, I know this was partially funded by improvement bond money voted on years ago by the people of Los Angeles for zoo improvements. I voted for it. What I did not vote for was 50 million dollars to be allocated to one project that now will support two additional senior elephants that according to the AZA records have already exceeded their expected zoo life and will most likely need more intensive costly care every month.
Did anybody read yesterdays paper? State college tuitions are increasing 10% eleminating the ability for young people to afford education. This is just one little aspect of what is happening with our education system within the Los Angeles area. But hey we dont need to think. Why not spend 50 million dollars on an elepant exhibit, that makes sense. Oh, speaking dollars, the Los Angeles Zoo also spent several million dollars on the much anticipated golden monkey exhibit. So glad that was done as well. Oh by the way there are no golden monkeys at the LA Zoo to date.
GLAZA is a very strong organization. I hope Tom Labonge, and Wendy Gruel are reminded at voting time of their wonderful support for this project.
Wake up Los Angeles. Time to think of peoples needs over the needs of those who go to the zoo for cheap entertainment. Those who would like to use their minds to resolve the issues regarding the real problems facing elephants cant afford to get the education to do so. Those who really dont want to put the effort into making meaningful changes can feel good by looking at the elder elephant that have been used and abused and now placed in an enclosure to be stared at so they can sway and bob until they fall over and die.

And the new females are thinking, "What's *he* doing here? That's weird..." Female and male elephants generally have very little to do with each other. Three token elephants, all out of their normal cultural contexts.

Won't anyone think of the mice? Hundreds of mice are fed to zoo animals every day. I demand that the LA Zoo immediately institute a vegan diet for all animals.

Once again it is time to clarify the rhetoric. Elephants walk to find water sources. They have to in Africa. As the summer months pass water sources begin to vanish forcing them to walk great distances. It is well documented the migration of many species in Africa to find water. The claims that they need millions of acres to room has been addressed by many experts and established as not true. This is a large exhibit with pleanty of room to roam and features to explore.

But once again the real issue here is the preservation of a species going extinct. The Los Angeles and San Diego Zoos embarked on a program many years ago to help the California Condor. They have had great success in breading California Condor and releasing them back into the wild to increase their numbers. As a result, the California Condor is making a comeback from the brink of extinction. Why should the elephant not receive the same help and compassion as the California Condor?

I applaud the Los Angeles Zoo...

I'd like to see someone explain how two post-reproductive female elephants are going to breed with Billy and save the Asian elephant species. And even if they could reproduce, captive breeding has a dismal success rate in zoos, which openly admit that no offspring will ever be sent back to their home countries.
The truth is that captive breeding has nothing to do with true conservation, which takes place where elephants live and where they need to be protected. Think about it: That $42 million used to build the LA Zoo's elephant exhibit could have protected entire populations of elephants in Asia or Africa for years to come, as well as the ecosystems in which they live. In fact, there is an argument to be made that such exhibits actually deprive real conservation efforts of much needed funds -- the private donations alone could have done much to help elephants in range countries. It's simply tragic.

Yes these two elephants are post breeding age. I cannot speak to why those two females were brought in but I do know they intend to bring in females for breeding purposes. But to say breeding in zoos is dismal is a gross misrepresentation of the truth and facts. I encourage people to go to sources and find out for themselves. Just keep in mind that some sources have an agenda and will twist or present skewed numbers as fact. I encourage everyone to seek out reputable sources of information.

As far as the $42 million figure you use, think of the tens of millions of dollars wasted by both sides in frivoulous lawsuits and manipulating of city govermentrs by groups opposed to elephants being in zoos. What could that money buy? That fact was omitted. If IDA really wanted to help they would concentrate there efforts to end poaching so elephants could remain wild and not become extinct.

We can try yo tug at peoples heart strings all we want. But at the end of the day this is about saving a species from extinction. That fact is clear no matter how much certain people try to muddy the water.

Let's assume that money 1) would actually reach conservation through these governments, and 2) people give to what they are passionate about. What a flowery, utopia look at $42 million going to protect elephants in their natural habitat. First of all, Los Angeles taxpayers voted on a majority of these funds for something their children could experience. That's the whole point of donating. That $42 million would NEVER have gone to elephants in the wild because Los Angeles residents would never have voted on sending money that couldn't be a direct benefit to their City. This exhibit can help people learn about elephants, and so there can be ancillary benefits from their visits. It's such an activist cliche to say "think of what $42 million could have done for wild populations". Well think about how much of PETA's and IDA's money could do the same instead of going towards Marketing and billboards.
If these activists and elephant researchers like Joyce Poole and Keith Lindsay who are on the take from organizations like IDA spent more time working towards partnerships instead of alienating other sources of funding from places like zoos, they might be doing more service to the actual creatures they are working with...the elephants. Karma is a bitch and they choose to alienate themselves from sources of funding by aligning with animal extremist groups. There are dozens of other wild researchers who will receive those funds instead. Isn't it funny how you don't hear about any other anti-zoo researchers except for this Amboselli group? Doesn't take a genius to figure out why.

It's worth mentioning that LA Zoo has already received significant amounts of training from San Diego Zoo personnel. Even before the move, LA Zoo staff worked with Tina and Jewel in San Diego, alongside the people who brought the two of them back to health and taught them to trust keepers using strictly positive reinforcement and protected contact, methods that employ the utmost patience and compassion on the part of the handlers. LA Zoo has agreed to adopt and use 100% of the same handling, management, and training techniques used in San Diego, and the close collaboration will continue. That’s a huge positive move for LA Zoo and I applaud them for it.
And, “Male elephants in captivity can’t be put together with females…” Who deemed this to be so? Adult males don’t typically tolerate each other, but males and females can, and do, live together in zoos. Tina and Jewel don’t know Billy, and they are social animals. Because elephants are so strong, they will have to be gradually and patiently introduced under safe conditions and close supervision. You can’t predict how they’ll get along, but two mature females with a much younger male have as good a chance as any to get along in a social group.
Jewel seems so easy-going and friendly, Tina seems to be a bit of a diva, and Billy has been described with glowing praise and fond smiles as “such a good elephant” who is curious and loves to interact with keepers. I personally wish I could be there to watch all day, every day, just to see how these personalities will interact with their new environment and with each other.


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