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Activists rally for the L.A. Zoo's Pachyderm Forest; Bob Barker donates to the opposition

January 26, 2009 |  4:11 pm

Activists demonstrate at City Hall in favor of the L.A. Zoo's planned Pachyderm Forest exhibit Demonstrators, from L.A. Zoo employees to guitar hero-turned-zoo activist Slash, gathered at City Hall this morning to show their support for the zoo's planned Pachyderm Forest. 

But Slash and his fellow celebrity zoo-supporter, Betty White, aren't the only famous folk with strong opinions about Billy the elephant's living arrangements.  As our colleague Corina Knoll at the L.A. Now blog reports, former "Price is Right" host and outspoken animal advocate Bob Barker is putting his money where his mouth is:

[Los Angeles City Councilman Tony Cardenas'] office today announced that Barker would donate $1.5 million to help cover the cost of Billy's transfer to [the Performing Animal Welfare Society, a sanctuary in San Andreas], where he would join Ruby, a female African elephant who left the L.A. Zoo in 2007 and who also benefited from a $300,000 donation from Barker.

"The thousands of Angelenos who agonized over Billy's tragic life at the Los Angeles Zoo will rejoice to learn that now Billy will have the opportunity to roam over countless acres at the PAWS sanctuary, living the life that nature intended for him," Barker wrote in a letter last week to Cardenas.

Activists on both sides of the debate won't have to wait much longer for a decision about Billy's future home -- whether it be the Pachyderm Forest or PAWS.  From L.A. Now:

The arts, parks, health and aging committee has a special meeting scheduled for 3 p.m. Tuesday to discuss the issue and will submit a report to City Council, which will meet Wednesday to make a final decision on the project, which has already cost about $12 million.

-- Lindsay Barnett

RELATED:
Jack Hanna announces his support for the L.A. Zoo's controversial elephant exhibit
Conservationist Daphne Sheldrick: Billy the elephant belongs in a sanctuary
Zookeepers to City Council: Let Billy the elephant stay at the zoo

Photo: Al Seib / Los Angeles Times

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