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Elephants, spotted owls and bald eagles ... in today's paper

December 1, 2008 |  9:19 am

In today's Los Angeles Times:

Carla Hall writes about the continuing controversy swirling around elephants at the Los Angeles Zoo:

Billy, the last remaining elephant at the L.A. Zoo Every elephant death was scrutinized; every public hearing about the animals was filled with protesters. It's no coincidence that the largest land mammal has prompted the largest and longest-running public relations problem for the zoo. Critics contend that the zoo has never had sufficient space to keep the lumbering behemoths.

And there's still not enough space, they argue, in the $42-million "Pachyderm Forest" now under construction. Several weeks ago, zoo officials eagerly showed off the portion that was completed and spoke of how the 3.6 acres would include a waterfall, water holes, mud wallows and varying surfaces for elephants' problem-prone feet to trod...

Today, the City Council's budget and finance committee is scheduled to meet and discuss whether the zoo project, funded by a bond measure, city money and private donations, should be shut down.

Times staff writer Kim Murphy has the latest developments in the case of the disappearing spotted owl:

Spotted owlAcross their entire range in Washington, Oregon, Northern California and British Columbia, there are thought to be fewer than 5,000 northern spotted owls left. In the dense forests of the Olympic Peninsula last year, spotted owls were found in 19 of the 54 sites they had once populated. Their numbers have declined by a third since the 1990s, when old-growth logging across the Pacific Northwest came to a virtual halt in an effort to protect their habitat.

The declines have been so persistent -- averaging 4% a year -- that a growing number of scientists have come to think the most immediate culprit is not logging but the aggressive barred owl, which has crept into the West Coast forests from Canada over the last few decades.

And a man who once pleaded guilty to federal charges in the deaths of three bald eagles has been pardoned by President Bush.

--Alice Short

Elephant photo: Robert Gauthier/Los Angeles Times.  Spotted owl photo: Associated Press.

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