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Jack Hanna announces his support for the L.A. Zoo's controversial elephant exhibit

Billy, the L.A. Zoo's only elephant

Celebrity zookeeper Jack Hanna weighed in today on the hot topic of Billy, the sole elephant resident at the L.A. Zoo.  In a letter to the L.A. City Council, Hanna pledged his support to the controversial "Pachyderm Forest" project, which will cost $42 million if completed as originally planned.

There's been a great deal of debate over Billy's living arrangements.  As our colleague Carla Hall reported last month, construction on the Pachyderm Forest has been halted over concerns not just over cost but also Billy's well-being:

"Our zoo is trying to do the best job they can with the real estate they have and the budget they have," said Councilman Tony Cardenas, who conceived the motion to stop construction of the exhibit and move Billy to a sanctuary. "Elephants don't fit in zoos; they have ailments they don't get out in the wild. Whether it's an acre or three to four acres, it's inadequate."

Hanna writes about a tour he took of the Pachyderm Forest construction site last month:

"What I [found] was a project taking shape that will set a new standard for the care of elephants at zoos, providing a home that will be even larger than what Asian elephants enjoy at the San Diego Wild Animal Park.  Not only will Billy and any future residents have a huge amount of space in which to roam, they will continue to enjoy 24-hour monitoring, state-of-the-art medical care, love, nurturing and a level of attention that ranch-like sanctuaries cannot provide.

"My conclusion: the Pachyderm Forest will be a model for humane elephant care that will educate generations to come on the threats Asian elephants face in the wild."

-- Lindsay Barnett

Photo: Glenn Koenig / Los Angeles Times

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Now I want to find a poll that asks the question: "Is Jack Hanna a blithering idiot?"

It is extremely important for children to experience the animals at the zoo. Remember these kids are the future! The future is theirs not OURS. It's important for them to feel how real these creatures are. With all the rain forest space being chopped down, all the mindless killing of animals, the importance of caring for the enviroment. How important is it for children in urban areas to see, appreciate and respect animals?
I had a Billy experience with my now 6 year old daughter who was 4 then. We have had zoo membership for years. She has grown up in the zoo. One day we were visiting Billy and she saw the picture of the elephant who was a victim of a poacher. I explained it to her. Her answer was, "mommy, some day I'm going to save all the elephants. I am going to save all the animals from being hurt!" She asks me if her food, clothing, shoes, are made from "creatures". She will have nothing to do with harming an animal. The day at the age of 4 with Billy changed her for life. I am not a vegan, nor is my husband. We are hardly activists, but she has brought me sensitivity to the needs of animals. All with Billy's influence. Why should the future be robbed of such enlightment?? Zoos are important for us to realize that these are living breathing creatures other we forget they are real. We forget they feel pain, they breathe, live and bleed like us. If Billy brings a new precedence to the treatment of animals in zoos great!!!!

Elephants are HERD ANIMALS.... period. No controversy no scientific can debate. This is a no brainer. The right sanctuary is a wonderful place to retire. Problem is there are so few sanctuaries and the ones that exist need to be of a 'herd' mentality. Like our pets they live happier lives with others of their species. That single issue needs to be the most important issue. Living with a proper herd is what is most important. If that can occur in a sanctuary then that is the VERY BEST environment. If not, then the zoo needs to be very well versed in such expertise. The head zoo keeper at Pittsburgh Zoo is one of the foremost authorities on this subject.

The only things that zoos do for any and all animals is to exploit them...

Jack Hanna is a ZOOKEEPER. What do you think he's going to say? This is like asking a tobacco company whether cigarettes are good for you.

I am still shocked and amazed each time I try to understand where people are coming from in their relationships with these sophisticated and intelligent animals we classify as elephants. Not only are they far more intelligent than most people comprehend, they are likely more intelligent than we are. As we sit here, gazing through their prison bars, admiring their smell, their eyes and how they move, we think we are the only ones capable of analyzing a situation and another species with such arrogant fascination. Elephants like whales have larger brains than the human species does. They also have one of the most sophisticated and complex social systems that has been recognized in the animal kingdom. They are intuitive, thoughtful, creative (yes, they are capable of painting and even drawing self portraits) intelligent, caring, compassionate, keenly aware of their surroundings, connected to each other through vibrations that the human being is still trying to understand and are intrinsically protective of each other as well as their babies. Bonds are formed between these beautiful matriarchal beings that are completely unappreciated by our scientific and biological community. Elephants are social and complex spiritual beings who deserve more than being labeled a nice attraction at a Zoo or an urban amusement for the young human kids who long to reconnect with the very nature that human beings have virtually destroyed. Where will the arrogance of human civilization with their selfish superiority complex end and when will they truly connect with other living and sentient beings. If each person begins to truly reflect, connect and feel what the best condition for Billy the elephant is, while removing their preconditioned ideas and monolithical abstract ideas about their human desires, perhaps the best decision will ultimately be made for another precious being lost in the abysmal ideas of our xenophobic society towards all sentient creatures.

As long as zookeepers carry "bullhooks" elephants are doomed..........for a life of "control" and emotional heartbreak.

Caregivers in Sanctuaries don't carry anything in their hands, they don't threaten the elephant into doing anything....the elephant is "free" to do what it wants when it wants and sanctuaries have the "proper" room for the elephant to roam and to be around other elephants if they so choose.

That is the whole point............

Zookeepers think they are doing a "good job" just becaue they feed and give medical attention???

What about the basic elephants needs to be an elephant....???

Would you leave a baby in a crib its whole life??

Locked away in a room all by itself but you feed it and change its diapers and give it medical care and then say you took very good care of that baby....

What would happen to that baby??? it would go crazy....from lack of human contact and emotional needs and basic human socialization.

Same with the elephants.........inside they are dying a slow emotional death every day.........and if they lash out and don't do what they are told.........what do you think happens behind closed doors??? wake up people.....the elephant is chained up and beaten..........why do you think the zookeepers carry the bullhook???? the elephants know what pain it causes...

Tiki, in Honolulu, finally went crazy and broke through a fence and couldn't stand the "control" anymore and the police shot it 42 times..........and Tiki was left to die on the road .......2 1/2 hrs.........a slow painful death....crying and whimpering............

No zoo is suitable for an elephant............it is cruel beyond words..........

How about putting a human in one of those enclosures..........you would end up going crazy emotionally............

These are suppose to be "wild" animals.........with all the inner workings of knowing how to take care of themselves.........but the human has to "kill" their spirit and force them to be what they want..........

Jack Hana is all about the money and doesn't give a rat's ass about any animal's welfare......otherwise he would be spending the money to protect the elephants habitat in the wild not sticking them in cages and small enclosures in zoos.

Unless zoos change and treat the elephants the same way PAWS and the ELEPHANT SANCTARY do then all zoos need to do the right thing and give up their elephants and close their exhibit..

I don't know much about the Billy issue and since I have never seen the new exhibit, I guess I can't judge. I have an academic background in conservation biology and natural resources and I care about animals: I have been a vegetarian for 15 years, a shelter volunteer and foster care provider, and I abstain from being a consumer of circuses, horse racing, etc. On the issues of zoos, I have always been ambivalent. Some of them seem to offer large enclosures and seem very humane, offering solace to a species that might not be able to have it in the wild. However, most of the time, my experience has been depressing (i.e. seeing a leopard cub in a solitary cage in a corner of the a zoo, where she plays with her own tale and has none of her own to keep her company. Or worse yet, the mountain lion in the tiniest cage that was in the middle of a free roaming livestock section--what torture for him! And it turned out he was captured from the wild.).Have you ever noticed an animal pacing back & forth incessantly in its cage/enclosure? That's stress...and yet, for everyone talking about "education" to the public, I don't see anyone at the zoos around me knowing what these animals are doing (on several occasions the families called the animal pacing "strutting").

I am not going to say that zoos are an absolute evil, or that they don't hold any ecological or animal welfare value. But I think they can be and in many (or most) cases are exploitative. And I also think they are an enabling factor--I think collective society has begun to shrug away mass extinction (which we are in the midst of) and habitat fragmentation, because, hey, we can have these animals...in zoos. If you study it closely, you'll see that the number and size of zoos have exponentially increased in tandem with the DECREASE of these animals in the wild. Not that zoos cause extinction, but again, it's create a false comfort that is enabling.

And whereas I think it is vital for children to see & experience animals, I also think it's positive to have that first impression be to see them confined. Do they realize this isn't natural? Zoos predated the Endangered Species Act and the need for conservation... And, by the way, "conservation" should not be confused with "preservation"--to conserve something, whether it be a wildlife species or resource, is to mitigate/minimize usage and exploitation of it, but nonetheless to still USE it to our own ends. Preseveration is to let something be for itself. I major studied Wildilfe Conservation, I know the difference. And though it has its place, don't you think the whole idea that everything is here for our use is what is got us into the HUGE mess we have now w/global warming and mass extinctions? That maybe wildlife shouldn't be treated as a resource for us to exploit, minimally or not? That maybe, considering the extentuating circumstances we humans have caused regarding wildife, that maybe the emphasis for wildife shoud be on "preservation" as opposed to "conservation." Think about it.

jack hanna also thought the treadmill for maggie in alaska was a good idea, but maggie would have nothing to do with their very expense, useless plan-- she was smarter than jack hanna, the idiot!!

Is Jack Hanna an elephant expert? Dr. Joyce Poole is -- she's world famous, in fact -- and she says the L.A. Zoo facilities will be inadequate. There's a difference between being a celebrity animal lover, or even being a vet who knows a lot about a wide range of animals, and being an expert who specifically understands the requirements of elephants, the largest animals kept in zoos, and possibly as intelligent as great apes. If 13 elephants had not already died while at the L.A. Zoo, and if their current elephant resident, Billy, didn't always look so bored, miserable, and catatonic every time I see him, it might be easier to accept Hanna's assurance that elephants in a new exhibit will "continue" to "enjoy 24-hour monitoring, state-of-the-art medical care" and other important things which it doesn't actually appear has been happening. Hanna is also mistaken for putting down the care elephants receive in a sanctuary. The Elephant Tennessee Sanctuary even has a 24-hour elephant cam viewable online; apparently Hanna has not actually researched them.

This whole poll question is superficial, by the way, since it does not ask under what circumstances zoos would be providing adequate care and space for elephants, yet the American Zoo Association has already come up with very specific requirements, greatly increased from traditional ones, and that's the reason some zoos are giving up their elephant exhibits -- because they cannot fulfill the new requirements to keep elephants happy, socializing, and stimulated. Thus, the AZA and many zoos themselves are admitting that under most budget/space limitations, zoos are not appropriate places to keep elephants!

Look, animal activists -- we get it! You don't like zoos. You don't like seeing animals IN zoos. Fine. So, don't GO to zoos!!! And let the rest of the world make their own choices.

Free Billy, let him go to the sanctury to be with others of his kind. His served his time at the zoo. Mr Hanna may like being on his own in a restricted area with people ogling at him. Elephants were born to roam the land, mate and be FREE.

Billy will only have female companions at a sanctuary whom he can actually interact with if he is first CASTRATED because sanctuaries (including PAWS) do NOT support breeding -- they don't have the money for it! Calves are costly, remember. A sanctuary is not an elephant farm where mating goes on and calves grow up happily next to their mothers. No. Sanctuaries are like retirement homes for elephants -- they are where an elephant should go if it has no other options. Billy HAS other options -- he can stay at L.A. Zoo in the new, larger Pachyderm Forest! PLUS, he'll get to breed!!! That would be awesome for Billy -- a natural part of his adult life. Why deprive him of that by sending him to a sanctuary? I mean, seriously, would you rather see a perfectly healthy bull castrated in the prime of his life and never be able to father offspring... just to spite the L.A. Zoo? That's just petty and misguided.

Please let the zoo continue building this exhibit.

There are so many false comments here, it's hard to comment to everything. But a few points: To all the posters who say "free Billy," how can you do so with a straight face? Sanctuaries are captive, people. The animals in them are not free. If you want to talk about jailing animals in zoos, then apply that same emotionally-charged language to sanctuaries.

The Elephant Sanct. in TN doesn't want BIlly. They are a sanctuary for females.

To the person who said the zoo is in violation of AZA guidelines... the guidelines you quoted are for females. Billy is a male. And by the way, Billy would have companions by now if not for the ridiculous and repeated roadblocks thrown up the anti-zoo folks. They have delayed his move to his new home, and then turn around and blame the zoo for keeping him in his current situation?!!!

I strongly believe we should keep Billy at the L.A. Zoo, Elephants are a huge draw to Zoo's and this is the only home he's ever known. He's in his prime at 19 and he'll have 4 other females to mate with in the new enclosure. Go to the zoo and get a postcard at the front (an elephant is pictured on the front) and mail it to the pre-addressed address. Get the word out, tell your friends. If he doesn't stay, this could mean the end of the Elephants at the L.A. Zoo.

Jack Hanna knows as much about animals as the celebrity TV hosts who invite him on their shows. Letterman and Leno laugh at Hanna and the poor scared animals he brings along - hoping one of them will poop on stage or do something outrageous to create a stir and increase their ratings.
Elephants are social creatures and do not belong in solitary confinement anywhere.Billy should be released to a sanctuary where he can live out his days with others of his kind.

Ode to Billy

How I love Billy;
He's one awesome bull.
His trunk and his ears
Are so wonderful!

I really do think
This Pachyderm's cool.
On hot summer days,
He plays in his pool.

Visitors love him;
They learn from him too.
Where else can they see
Elephants but the zoo?

Billy has "Staff"
Who give him great care.
I wish I were him;
It just isn't fair.

Billy is waiting
For his larger home,
Right at L.A. Zoo,
Where he will soon roam.

He'd like to have mates,
He's ready, you know!
Just watch that fifth leg,
And tire below.... : >

If Billy could speak,
Oh, what would he say?
"I love L.A. Zoo,
So, PLEASE let me STAY!"

There is absolutely no justification for zoos. Only five species have been saved from extinction by zoos ever (and most of those were a fluke). Animals do not live their natural lifespan in captivity despite being fed each day and being free from predators- animals like to hunt and roam, it's what they do. And research isn't a plausible excuse because animals behave differently in captivity. The only reason to keep zoos going is because all the selfish desk chained people want to take their offspring and go stare at the poor animals for five minutes a year. Let Billy go!

Zoos play an important role in the conservation of elephants. Anyone following the news in Africa or anyone who's ever had the privelege of visiting national parks in Africa knows all too well the sad plight of elephants in the wild. In most places in Africa they are brutally hunted and killed for their ivory. Their habitats are rapidly shrinking in favor of slash and burn farming by the continent's poor. Even in the national parks of most sub Saharan countries, where they are supposed to be protected, elephants are poached and slaughtered. In India they are driven from their rapidly dwindling reserves and will soon be extinct in the wild.

Rather than protest elephants in zoos, the protesters would better serve elephants by supporting both their conservation in Africa as well as their captive propagation in the U.S. and spend their energy and resources in a positve way to help fund both activities.

Jack Hanna - you and the Los Angeles Zoo, as well as all AZA accredited zoos across America have my unwavering support

Wonder where Gita's 24/7 care was when she went down and was left that way until it killed her. Most of the elephants sent to sanctuary are already suffering from captivity induced illnesses and psychological trauma before they get there. An elephant's normal life span is the same as ours. A fifteen year old elephant is a teenager. Dying in your forties is not normal. So stop it with your AZA rubbish. The breeding programs of zoos are a complete failure so I certainly hope the future of the Asian elephant is not depending on a zoo. Let's see, how many have died from herpres lately?. Mac and Malti just to name a few. Oh yes, by a disease that passed from African to Asian elephants in the zoo. How many female elephants have been permanently crippled by bull elephants because they were not receptive when placed in confinement with them. Wonder how they plan to segregate them. That 3.5 acres of roaming space is getting smaller all the time isn't it. hmmmmmm.

Speaking as a retired elephant Animal Husbandry Supervisor from the NC Zoo, the elephants there, since 1980, have always lived in several acres of "natural habitat" exhibit space, and now twice as large as what the LA Zoo is now proposing for its future elephant exhibit.

The debate between animal welfare groups and the zoo community generally focuses upon mankind's cultural belief that zoos have an inherent right to confine and exhibit elephants. Both groups attempt to understand and know through human eyes instead of the elephants's eyes, its needs and wants.

No matter how much zoos want to justify confining elephants ie., education,animal ambassadorships, science, conservation or preservation, etc. zoos are still falling further behind in accurately assessing these animals and their housing requirements. Unfortunately, newly designed elephant exhibits are already obsolete before they are built.

Whether any zoo or animal group has advanced their thinking about modern zoo confinement, which has evolved from bars and cages, to natural habitats, and now animal sanctuaries, these transitions should be considered positive progressions. Each of these transitions has been, to some degree, subject to resistance to change. Captive confinement is still man's creation, where numerical concepts and relative comparisons try to define living standards and quality of life for zoo animals. No captivity, whether zoo or animal sanctuary, can come close to duplicating the natural world.

The animal sanctuary in many cases has succeeded in replacing the natural habitat zoo as a more humane environment for elephants. Sending Billy to a sanctuary would certainly be a part of this latest transition. Greater than this act is to look to the future and embrace the next step or progression, a vision where both zoos and animal sanctuaries can be gradually phased-out.

Despite their uncertain future, elephants may sense that nature has, and always will be, the real and sole authority of their fate, regardless of man's intervention to help them in captivity and in the wild.

For those who say that animals are not suffering on zoos:

http://www.animanaturalis.org/635 (spanish)

http://www.helpinganimals.com/automation2/AlertItem.asp?id=1004 (english)




To Kate Woodviolet's last posting, the studies you are citing are on European zoos who have different standards of animal husbandry than those in the US. Also the studies used regression statistical analysis, which determines relationships only, not cause and effect. So that the numbers they came up with, considering the long time span, is questionable. Since the new requirements for elephant care came about by the AZA in 1994, the approach of care makes a big difference when proper studies on longevity are conducted. What was published only applies to European zoos, not US zoos. If you want to cite studies on life spans, why not try to find one that was conducted in the US and see what they found, since we are talking about Billy who is here in the US?

I'm very suprise to read the results of voting: there are many persons who think that a beautiful creature like elepahnts can stay in a prison like a Zoo: please free them, free Billy, NOW. IT IS A SHAME, ANIMALS MUST LIVE FREE. Silvia - FLORENCE - ITALY

I vote for keeping elephants in the zoo. Zoos have changed over time and they continue to work hard to have the best interest of animals at hand. The animal caretakers have devoted their lives to educating themselves about animals. The animal caretakers at the zoo treat animals including elephants with love and dignity.

Growing up in a low income family I did not have the opportunity to travel but I did have the opportunity to attend a school trip to the zoo. I can still remember how excited I was to see an elephant for the first time at the zoo. Seeing animals on TV and reading about them in books could not compare to the awe and appreciation I gained for animals when I saw them at the zoo.

As a parent I also feel as if taking Billy away will take away the opportunity for children to gain a true appreciation for animals. It also takes away the opportunity to educate children about animals. Zoos also help children understand how important it is to help animals and is an opportunity to highlight to children what they can do to help them from becoming extinct. Zoos have been the key to opening the eyes of children and to get them involved with animals for generations.

If anything lets try to make the zoo an even better place instead of creating a so called new and improved sanctuary. Let's also remember that the animals at the zoo are not mistreated. They are cared for by people who love animals.

Shame on you Councilman Tony Cardenas. As a constituent who voted for you I am very disappointed in your actions. You are going against the voice of voters who voted for the Pachyderm forest expansion. How can the voice of voters be overturned so quickly? Unfortunately it sounds like someone is getting paid.....

Billy deserves to live the last few years of his life as a free elephant. NOT on display. Let the poor thing be an elephant. If he could talk, that's what he would want, FREEDOM!

To: Kate
I am getting tired of hearing it being constantly repeated that elephants in the wild live to be 60-70 years old. Most of those are assumptions made by the field researcher. Unless they were at the birth of an individual they are 60 years old, they are only making an educated guess. The longest continuous animal done is coming on 50 years in 2010 and that is the work being done at Gombe National Park by the Jane Goodall Institute. They can say with certainty the ages of the individuals they have studied since ALL the chimpanzees there have been followed from shortly after birth.

The same cannot be said for any of the studies currently being on elephants.Unless they witnessed the birth or were there shortly afterward to document the month and year, the researchers are making guesses at age.

This is not true in zoos, where records of all births, especially with endangered species, are kept updated and current. This is necessary in order to know who and where all births are occuring to move forward the Species Survival Plan. Record keeping is an important part of making sure the information given out is accurate. Field researchers should note when they are estimating the age of an individual, but many times they do not.

So to really claim the age of a wild elephant, show me records of either the birth of the elephant OR the earliest instance when a new youngster appeared within a family group....that is good enough for me. But again, that is not possible since many of these people weren't there that early in an "elderly" elephant's life.

It angers me to HAVE to read through all the posts... because almost everyone is saying the same thing. It angers me that we all have to post our view for an issue brought up by a "few" ... who don't see through their cloud. LET BILLY LIVE AT THE LA ZOO! This shouldn't even be an ISSUE! But let's get a "minority" of some flippin "group" who thinks an elephant "shouldn't" live at the LA ZOO, or any Zoo...and make the caregivers spend money and time in order to try and "stop" that "minority" group that is trying to STOP the progression of a plan that was VOTED " TO DO", so this wonderful elephant can live his life and or possibly have him breed...as all animals should... in a constant protected environment.... last I knew MAJORITY RULES! It was VOTED ON and WON, hello? I have horses, cows, goats, dogs, cats, parrots and chickens. My oldest horse is 26, you minority clown heads that think an animal "kept" in a zoo or at my house isn't going to live longer then in the wild? Get a CLUE... of course an animal is going to live longer... so what are you really fighting for? How about focus on your own personal family affairs and leave the people who are dedicated to assisting animals and caring for their welfare alone... like a ZOO. AND, by the way, let children see up close and personal what fabulos elephant GOD provided... because MOST of us can't run over to Africa to see one! GET A CLUE, before it's too late... and don't you dare take your children (or grand children) to a ZOO.... you don't deserve to be there.

I support the new habitat for our elephants!

Just because we the people are not highly qualified to say yes or no to Billy the elephant being kept in the L.A. zoo pen, does not mean that as human beings we can see for ourselves that by trying to be kind by feeding him and having a vet on hand in case of sickness, that actually we are being cruel by being kind.

We would not appreciate being kept alive for years in a confined space, just because it kept us safe and well fed. Freedom is paramount to humans and animals. Neither a zoo nor a circus is the kind way to treat such a huge majestic creature. These animals were never intended to live alone they are herd animals.

Give him his freedom in a sanctuary and stop all the gawking, photo taking patrons who saunter past him every day - it is a wonder these animals do not go insane. It must be like us getting our head patted over and over it would drive you nuts.

There is nothing Billy is experiencing except misery in his current set up. It may seem like the best is being done for him but anything that has concrete floors, chains for barricades and dismal looking surroundings and confined movement is not the way God intended these animals to be treated and most certainly is not a quality life for this animal.

I have seen elephants in the circus and will never attend a circus again. Thank goodness wild animals are now being phased out and only human acts can perform here.

Any wild animal paces with stress and yet they are seen in cages and everyone thinks oh aren't they fierce. Well you would be too if someone slapped you inside a barred cage for the rest of your life or until you could perform to earn your keep.

What is the point in making the mistake of keeping Billy alive when obviously every year is boring, tedious, lonely and all he gets is humans going past him day in day out - give him a break. Let him go and let him experience what true human kindness really is and show him space, space, and FREEDOM.

He was not born to belong to anyone but himself - he needs to get as close as he can to free living and a sanctuary is the closest poor Billy is ever going to get. Let him go please.

This should never be about the keeping the exhibit open for the future of the zoo. This about the wellbeing, health and happiness of Billy. Money to fix up the zoo for Billy will not make it a place for his wellbeing if there is no contact with other elephants for Billy. This should never be about the zoo, but strictly about Billy period.

I went to see Ruby the PAWS sanctuary recently with two friends. It cost $180 dollars for the three of us. They're great people, but underfunded. Ruby is confined to a barn from 3PM until 8AM because no keepers are available. Some freedom. Billy has free acess to his (admittedly too small) enclosure 24/7 as he presumably will in the Pacyderm Forest.

When she is freed in the morning she eats walks about three blocks to her favorite tree and stands there until her next meal is put out. Animals don't wander away from food.

Because there are no other male elephants at PAWS, Billy will be alone for the rest of his life. At the Zoo, he will have company.

Can any of the oponents tell me why we should send Billy to PAWS without the fictions of nonexistent freedom , nonexistent companionship, space he won't use, referring the the recent article in Science Magazine, which most experts have stated is seriously flawed or the use of their animal telepathy that tells them Billy is unhappy?

It is interesting to read the back and forth points of view on what should happen to Billy the elephant.

I would first like to say that elephants in the wild live in families. With the exception of males when they become a certain age, the females stay together lead by their matriarch. That being said, Billy is all alone. Hasn't he suffered enough? I guess they want to introduce another elephant into the "habitat?"

Second, elephants need a lot of room. In the wild, they walk miles and miles in search of for example, water. This is programmed into their brains much like a dog has special instinctual behavior.

It is very selfish of us to assume to know what Billy wants. The best way to measure is to compare camptive animals to wild animals. It is always best and ethical to allow each animal to at out their natural behavior.

Some may believe that zoos serve a purpose of education but does it really matter to a child to see an animal in an artificial setting?

A final note, yes animal welfare folks can get "passionate" about their causes. But they are thinking beyond themselves which is a gift and is a concious human being.

Thank you!

Please send Willy to sanctuary. It is time to put his needs and comfort first. It is just that simple.

NO !!!!!!!!!!

Keep Billy at the Zoo!!! Billy deserves the new exhibit!

Free Billy!!!!!!

Elephants should be free!

la liberté pour lui. il a droit au repos pour le reste de sa vie.

Moi je suis tout à fait d'accord ,les zoos ne sont pas l'endroit pour les animaux sauvages ni tout autres animaux d'ailleurs. Il faut les laisser ds leurs pays respectifs ils seront bien mieux. qu'enfermer. Vous ne trouvez pas ??
Alors laissez les gambader dans leur coin de paradis.
Merci pour eux.

Animals belong to their places, not for our fun in a cage, no matter how big could be. I respect a lot the huge work USA have done with protecting animals, but CIRCUS and ZOOS (without the right space) are not acceptable.

When Billy dies of sadness who will care about Billy. It is an animal and belong to its place or to a sanctuary not for weekends attractions.

"A society can be judged by the way it treats its animals". by GANDHI.

Tania - Argentina


You don't have to be an elephant expert or rocket scientist to see that Billy is behaving totally different from elephants in the wild. And I continue to find it difficult to believe that anyone studying him for a bit do not see that this is an extremely frustrated and bored animal. I overheard comments from several kids when watching Billy for less than an hour in November - all of them seemed disturbed by what they saw. Is this education, and what we want our children to experience? Or is it a result of political, LA Zoo and AZA prestige going wild?

Based on science there is no doubt that Billy need and should be given much more space and natural stimuli than an urban zoo like LA Zoo can offer - but use of common sense and compassion should be more than enough.

I'm crossing my fingers for a sensible and compassionate decision in LA City Council shortly - a decision based on Billy's needs and interests and not our own. If the big bucks involved is not an issue, let Billy's health and LA's image be.

We have heard from the experts that keeping elephants in zoos, or circuses is cruel and inhumane. Why is it that Jack Hanna has a hard time coming to this conclusion? And why is it that we continue to think that any creature should be entertainment for us?

This all gets down to 'money.' It has nothing to do with the treatment of this elephant, it has to do with money and getting Jack Hanna to say that this creature is happy and healthy there is causing more harm than good.

The person who says we are selfish to think we know what Billy wants. Billy would want to have the life that should have been given to him, just like we humans would be sad if our lives are taken away from us. We have taken away the rights of so many creatures and in our tiny brains we try to give excuses as to why they should continue to suffer just so we are content.

Stop this torture and set this elephant free! He only wants his life back. What is selfish about that?

The zoo owners should be in cages, se how they cope!

Some of the pro-zoo posters are extremely ignorant about the situation at the LA Zoo and about sanctuaries. First, the two sanctuaries are accredited by The Association of Sanctuaries that has far higher standards than the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). That wouldn't be hard since the AZA still allows bullhooks to be used to beat their elephants. The sanctuaries do not allow bullhooks, chains or any other punishment. The sanctuaries do not use only holistic veterinary medicine but use conventional vet care as well.

If the LA Zoo finishes its "Pachyderm Forest" exhibit, there will only be about 3.5 acres which will be subdivided into 4 smaller areas. In other words, the elephants will have access to even less space at any given time than they have now. Billy will still be alone because they wouldn't house him with female elephants. In addition, no zoo elephant is promised a permanent home. The industry has a custom of shipping their animals around to other zoos, circuses and even canned hunts when they don't want them anymore. Animals are treated like pieces of furniture in the zoo world. Sanctuaries promise a permanent home which is what elephants need.

Finally, let us remember that the traditional zoo is a 19th century menagerie model of displaying animals in a city garden setting. A very outdated model indeed. Sanctuaries represent the future of enlightened
captive elephant management and that is because they are trying to address what elephants need rather than what humans want.

The only thing children learn by seeing elephants in a small zoo enclosure is that it's okay to keep animals in small deprived settings just so people can look at them for 30 seconds. It teaches nothing about their plight in the wild, it displays animals who are not behaving in a normal manner and studies have shown there is no correlation between seeing an elephant in a zoo and contributing in any meaningful way to wild elephant conservation.

I also find the poll results to be interesting. Either the poll is rigged or the zoo industry has mobilized its "call-in network" which is what they have been known to do in the past. They have never been ones to engage in an honest debate, but constantly try to stack the deck in their own favor whenever possible. We must remember that zooists are fighting for their jobs and careers their industry. That creates a very powerful vested interest for them. Animal advocates are fighting for the animals. You'll notice Jack Hanna didn't address Billy's distressed head-bobbing behavior. Zooists either claim that the neurotic behaviors of zoo animals are "dancing" or "anticipatory behavior" or similar nonsense or they refuse to deal with it at all. After all, if it is acknowledged to be distressed behavior, then what can be said after that?


I think as long as the zoo treats the animals good and they have a natural habitat and are able to have "friends", then a zoo is a good place!

All you have to do to understand how cruel it is to keep Billy in the zoo, is to look at the picture of him behind the chains. Does he look content to you?

Zoos have nothing to do with the welfare of the animals or the preservation of the species. They have all to do about profiting at the expense of these unfortunate animals.

There are comments here that mention the importance of "preserving the species". Zoos operate under the misleading veil of conservation and education when, in reality, these proud and sensitive animals are kept merely as tourist draws to profit the zoo. Captive breeding will never contribute to the survival of the species because elephants breed poorly in captivity and the offspring who do survive can never be released into the wild. And as far as education goes, keeping elephants in captivity teaches children that it is acceptable to deprive these animals of all that is important to them for the sake of our amusement.

Zoos keep elephants in unnaturally small groups, in cramped spaces. The elephants are routinely shuffled between facilities, so that even when they are able to form a bond with another elephant, that bond is cruelly and callously broken. Hours of standing on hard surfaces, which they would not be doing in the wild, contributes to foot infections and arthritis, which are the leading causes of death among captive elephants. According to a study commissioned by the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA), elephants in zoos have significantly shorter lifespans than their wild counterparts.

Billy needs to be rescued from this sad existence. Please send him to an elephant sanctuary,

please send Billy to a sanctuary

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