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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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I just really wish those of you who support zoos would take a long hard look at the fact and serious troubles animals in zoos have. I don't mean any disrespect to anyone.

I truly believe most people have no idea what a horrible and not natural place this is for animals. They deserve to be free like the rest of us. If they can't roam like they did before we took their land then a Sanctuary is the best, healthiest place for them, period.

If Jack Hanna loved animals he wouldn't, for years, take them on TV and make a show of them scaring them half to death for years. I think he believes he loves animals in the only ignorant way he knows how.

Jack Hanna would have a lot to loose if there were no zoos. He is Director Emiretus of the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium. This is his livelyhood, his income. Of course he is going to support the LA Zoo elephant enclosure. The AZA has on its board, all people who work for zoos. They want zoos in order to make a living. Boards of Directors of Zoos are paid. Zoos support many people. Of course they want the zoos to survive by showing animals the public wants to see, in order for the zoos to pay their salaries.

These so called zoo experts are nothing but people who have chosen to prostitute their degrees. They are experts in making a buck off the backs of animals. They made the decision to not do anything constructive with their education. Their "expertise" has a price tag on it and is for sale to the highest bidder.

Sorry, I had to add one more thing to the mix. If you want to understand the bottom line position of all the animal activits and their attempts to have Billy removed from the zoo, here it is:

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!

Posted by: jen | January 08, 2009 at 09:00 PM

Why make an animal suffer while you "take steps" to provide adequate living arrangements for him. These beautiful creatures are not meant to live in captivity - ESPECIALLY to an end that "serves" humans so they can "learn" about them.

I just went to the L.A. zoo the other day. I don't think most people understand that the L.A. is building a HUGE exhibit for the elephant that is currently confined to a very small space. It would be inhumane to keep this large animal in the space it is currently in. I say let the zoo continue with huge area it is building for the elephant.

They are fixing a problem, let them fix it and then see how the elephant does. I think the elephant will love the new space. It will be like going from a jail cell to a mansion. The new area is not an island but it's no jail cell either.

Why is this even coming up again? Two years ago the same group of people put forward the same objections. The City Council, the Zoo AND THESE SAME ANIMAL ACTIVISTS chose an independant group to determine if the project would be good for Billy.

The group of experts THE ANIMAL ACTIVISTS helped choose determined the exhibit was good for Billy.

Now, after spending millions of dollars, this special interest group hopes everyone will forget THEY APPROVED THE PROJECT DESIGN. If it's so terrible now, why was is acceptible in 2006?

We've aleardy spent ten million dollars on the exhibit. If we don't complete it, we will have to return nine million dollars to the County (this comes from the City Council's own budget committee). The Zoo Association (GLAZA) will have to return ten million dollars in donations to the donors (like Betty White). GLAZA has agreed to pay the debit on the bonds sold to pay for the exhibit ($1.2 million a year for 20 years, so that means we'd have to pay this debit service...the bonds have already been sold ($20.4 million over 20 years).

Guys, you lost when the experts you helped choose approved the project. You lost when the voters of Los Angeles approved the bonds. You lost when the City Council's budget committee stated the city would lose big time if the project was not completed. You lose in this poll which was running 3 to 2 against you last time I checked.

Actually, you also lose when you keep repeating the fantasies about a 'free' Billy romping with the other elephants at PAWS when you know they are not true.

Give it a rest and let Billy's new home be completed...as it would have been over a year ago if you'd accepted the views of the group of experts you helped choose.

Did everyone see the recent post by a Ron Hitchcock on Jan. 8 at 11:18 PM?? I have talked to some other folks who visited PAWS (the sanctuary Billy would go to if he had to leave L.A. Zoo) and they told me the same thing! Apparently, and I'm not sure why, the elephants go into the PAWS barn at about 3 PM... WHERE THEY ARE ON CEMENT ALL NIGHT UNTIL THE NEXT MORNING!!! I don't understand this practice. I thought the point of putting elephants in a sanctuary was to make them "free" like a number of folks on this site have said. But that is certainly NOT free!! At least at the new Pachyderm Forest (and actually even now in Billy's current yard), he and other females who will join him can be given round-the-clock access to the habitat... with its natural surroundings, AND they won't be on cement for more than half of their 24-hour day as they are in PAWS.

And some keepers at other zoos that I know who went to visit some elephants at PAWS recently told me they found the PAWS elephants to be extremely overweight -- obese actually. I don't know if that is due to over-feeding, but it sure could be. Still, it's weird -- because you'd think that with all that extra space, they would be getting plenty of exercise and would just walk it off. But then, I read Ron H's entry, and it made me think that perhaps they just are not walking it off because they don't need to. They get fed by PAWS (perhaps at certain times of the day, I don't know), and so from what Ron said, they just hang around nearby and wait for their next meal. Wo! Man, if that's true, these elephants really are pretty darn smart... and maybe one might think a little lazy. But, then, we would probably do the same thing. : > I mean why expend a bunch of energy looking for food, if you don't have to?

I see that folks are always looking at zoos with a critical eye. But why don't they ever look at sanctuaries that way too? I think we should not assume that sanctuaries are perfect places that equal the wild. I mean, they have to run their business and manage the elephants as well. And there must be a reason that PAWS has to take the elephants into the barn in the afternoon and through the night. But I can't imagine why, and I certainly think that is a less desirable scenario for the elephants than having round-the-clock access like they would in the more managable and protective surroundings of the L.A. Zoo. So, for me, it's a no-brainer. The pros of Billy being in the L.A. Zoo outweigh those for being in a sanctuary.

No animal should be kept in a Zoo, no matter how great its facilities are.

We're talking about animals who have miles and miles of land on their natural habitat. Therefore, no animal should be kept prisoner so that a few ignorant humans can see them.

Would you like to be kept prisoner in a room for the rest of your life? Because in comparison, that's about the same thing that's happening to these poor animals!

And we call ourselves an evolved species?
Do you know elephants mourn their deceased family members,even dozens of years after their deaths? And do you know they can tell the difference between the bones of their relatives and the bones of elephants from other herds?

As Victor Hugo once said: "You can see the level of evolution of a people by the way it treats 'its' animal."

Free Billy now!

Demand that she is sent to an elephant sanctuary!!!

Concious -

Just like you said, wild elephants do live in family groups, except for males when they come of age. You answered your own question because Billy has not been suffering, seeing as how being by himself is no different than what he would be doing in the wild right now at this age.

Once the habitat is completed, they do want to introduce other elephants - something they won't do at a sanctuary - to give him the chance to have companions and maybe even calves.

You make another good point that in the wild they are hard-wired for survival - walking great distance for food and water. They need to do that because if they don't, they're dead. However, animals realize when vital needs like food, water, and shelter are being met, and , according to their "programming" for survival," won't walk aimlessly away from such a source of safety when it is available to them.

This doesn't even come close to being selfish as you've claimed. If you know what an animal's needs are, you know that the zoo can provide for those needs, and you know that somewhere like a sanctuary cannot do the same, that's not an assumption: that's looking at ALL the facts and forging an informed opinion.

And of course education is important. If the next generation isn't taught how to appreciate life and allowed to experience it beyond what they can through a television or computer monitor, then to them it won't matter.

Think about why most people are passionate about animals. It's because of that personal connection they have found to nature and its inhabitants.

By supporting the Los Angeles zoo Pachyderm Forest, you're allowing EVERYONE a chance to nurture or ignite their own passion for animals.

What could be a greater gift than that?

I wonder how many of the human animals here actually have visited Billy?

what benefit does a zoo do to a culture anyway?
Jobs? social venue? academia?
How does one benefit taking a non-native wild animal, capture it from its natural surrounds and its family group, put in an artificial habitat, feed the captive creature "food" prepared by humans, stick it behind a cage and then have thousands of people gawking at it?

Pity the creature that actually behaves wild, that is when we kill it and justify it with the human loss associated with it.
Leave a tiger cage open, it acts naturally and we kill it. We pester make noises and enter the articial habitat and then are surprised when attacked by that 500 lb bear.

Is this teaching anyone anything about wild animals?
Or are we just propagating our own self indulged superiority to all other living things?

I guess the great wealth of human knowledge and technological enlightenment we are going though cannot compare to the age old barbaric rituals that make us humans feel superior.

oh right, lets do this for the children.

I have enjoyed zoos myself, and have seen them very much enjoyed by children as well. They provide a great learning opportunity. However not all animals can exist in confinement. They are all complex creatures with instinctual urges and needs we cannot reason or comprehend the full depth of. Some have requirements zoos cannot fulfill.

Simply put, confinement is imprisonment and it isn't just for a stronger, more manipulative species to incarcerate another for its own enjoyment. I mean really, if aliens from outer space came and put humans in their zoos for their pleasure would we think that acceptable? Why not? Because we speak English dammit?

Paraphrasing the antiquated ideas of Leo Strauss: (snip) nature acts in modernity not as an end to be realized, but rather as a beginning from which one must escape. Nature is to be conquered or mastered, and this conquest or mastery is at the same time the realization of human culture. (snip)

We have realized that we are not masters on nature, but simply a single part of it. How arrogant it was (is?) to assert otherwise based on some self-righteous belief.

Now arguably some animals don't seem to mind, or even be aware of confinement. As for those that do, they should not be forced to suffer their existence in a zoo while the onlookers gawk and then go wherever they please.

I can't get to Africa anytime soon.
Born free.

I have read a lot of the comments on this blog and I feel sorry for Kate Woodviolet. I don't know what her background is, I don't know what her qualifications are but she is driven by compassion. People supporting keeping Billy in a zoo are driven by selfishness.

What you have to ask yourself is, who is going to make money out of keeping Billy in the zoo, who is going to lose money if Billy goes to a sanctuary?
Kate certainly isn't going to profit out of it whatever the outcome.

You are a good person Kate, I sincerely hope you can get Billy to a Sanctuary.

Elephants are herd animals.
Zoos do not cater to their natural instincts.
Zoos are dreadful places created by controling people who do not understand animals at all. The elephant should go to a sanctuary to be with other elephants and live a natural life.
Close the zoos!
They are shocking examples of our ignorance and stupidity about the natural world.

Please do not delay moving forward with giving those elephants the space they deserve. This is cruelty to the elephants to delay giving them that beautiful space.

I'm not an expert but I do know that elephants live about three times longer in the wild.

Whoever posted the comment about people in sanctuaries using bull hooks has never obviously been to an elephant sanctuary. They use bull hooks on elephants in zoos and in circuses. Having elephants in zoos in strictly for human entertainment. I have been on several school zoo trips and the children are never really interested in the animals. Children elementary school aged spend most of their time making fun of the animals and pointing out how "they stink". I heard one child comment once that an elephant at a zoo "looked sad". If the whole point was to preserve the species then why hold them hostage? That is what we are doing to animals in cages - holding them hostage.
Please do research and find out how much land these beautiful animals need in their natural environment.
Check out the video of Billy and his very unnatural behavior. He is showing signs of stress.
I no longer go to zoos and participate in human's quest to control and manipulate animals.
Let Billy live the rest of his life in freedom.

Jack Hanna is in bed with Anheuser-Busch, one of the biggest of animal exploiters. He doesn't give a damn about the animals he schleps on TV shows to be humiliated and laughed at. A responsible and compassion animal guardian would instruct the TV audiences to keep the applause, screaming, and laughter to zero decibels until the stressed and frightened animals are off the stage! Hanna has also had plenty of criticism, warnings, and paid fines over his dis-management of the Colombus Zoo. He's a big phreaking phoney. For his reckless comments about Billy, he deserves a sharp tusk in the gut. Shame on him and shame on old-school-thinking, profit-over-lives zoos.

The LA Zoo is one of this nation's finest educational facilities.The activities of the LA Zoo are to be commended for all that they do, and those opposing this project are social extremists that do not reflect the attitudes of the vast majority of our society. The LA Zoo shares with all facets of our society the wealth of benefits that can be learned from the behaviors of other species. It enables many endangered species to continue to exist for the benefit of future generations. That which we learn from these animals expands the understanding of our own behaviors.

The wildlife of today is not ours to dispose of as we please.
We have it in trust and must account for it for those who come after!
King George IV

I have learnt of Billy's case via Internet and I am genuinely surprised how many people support a stay in the zoo - while naturally respecting anybody's opinion. I am writing from Europe and in my country the keeping of wild animals is subjected to very strict demands to guarantee that their environment is as "natural" as possible which is of course still not freedom. But to consider a tiny space in isolation superior to a life in a natural environment in the company of other elephants (important for a social animal) frankly seems a bit weird to me. I do hope Billy can go to the sanctuary after all because that is what she would vote. Best wishes, Elfi

The LA Zoo is one of this nation's finest educational facilities. They provide all captive animals exceptional care and attention. Those who oppose this project are social extremists and have failed to grasp the benefits of the lessons we can learn from other species. We need to preserve those endangered species for the benefits of generations to come.

The welfare of animals is NOT about "rights" for animals. It is about keeping the RIGHTS of OWNERS to care for their animals in a humane manner. I am appalled that people with NO background in animal husbandry could even presume to disagree with someone like Jack Hanna who has so much knowledge and experience. Animals such as elephants are disappearing in the wild. Zoos are working to maintain and increase the population of many species through controlled breeding programs. The National Zoo in DC saved an entire species of monkeys and re-introduced them to the wild. Of course the animal "rights" wingnuts don't want you to know about sucessful programs like this that refute their claims that animals in zoos are treated cruelly and should all be "released" into the wild. Sure let's just send Billy back to Africa so the Ivory poachers can kill him (heavy sarcasm intended here). John Q. Public needs to stop telling the experts how to do their job and just be thankful they will get to see an elephant. If zoos are not allowed to do their jobs, your grandchildren may never have the opportunity to see an elephant or a monkey or any other species of wildlife because they will all be GONE! I am sure that would make the animal "rights" fanatics very happy. www.animalscam.com

You'd better treat elephants much better ---

I am in full support of the new elephant habitat at the LA Zoo and believe that these animals play a vital role in education and conservation.

The evidence is overwhelming that even the best zoo enclosures are too restrictive for as large, migratory and sensitive as elephants. We should discourage keeping elephants at zoos and circuses and spend the money instead to support animal sanctuaries where these majestic and endangers creatures can roam more like they were meant to do.

I'm in favor of keeping Billy at the zoo and giving him better facilities; I am really in agreement that he should be in the wild and living a "normal" life for an elephant but that does not seem plausible. I am certainly opposed to the sanctuary as these are the people who were ousted from the zoo years ago for abusive treatment.
Zoo supporter.

To LINSHR10 : You wrote: "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."

Perhaps that explains the tragic case in 2006 when an elephant at the sanctuary in Tennessee killed one handler and injured another. At zoos today, keepers only have bullhooks in case of such a life-threatening emergencies. Much as many people keep a baseball bat or other weapon near their bed. In case their life is threatened.

Sanctuaries are not perfect (the African elephants at PAWS are confined to their barns for the majority of every 24-hr period!), neither are zoos. Both are trying to do better, I believe. However, while zoos are going about the business of taking care of animals in their care, they have to constantly defend themselves from these attacks.

Billy should stay at the zoo, his home for 20 years, and let them commence construction of his new habitat. Let's stop wasting time, and BUILD PACHYDERM FOREST!

"Do you agree with Jack Hanna that Billy the elephant should remain at the L.A. Zoo?"
"No -- it's inhumane to keep elephants in zoos and Billy should go to a sanctuary"

Elephants, and all wild animals, belong in the wild. But second best is a sanctuary, not a zoo. Animals are not ours to use as we please. Billy deserves better than to be on display as live, tortured entertainment.

When will we ever learn to be sensible and wise and stop such unnatural conditions for animals, particularly elephants who are roamers and need space for their physical and mental health?

Why don’t we already feel that Billy, and all the animals at Zoos, are in a sanctuary?
If you look up the word in Webster’s dictionary, a sanctuary is defined as:
“A sacred place, a place giving refuge or asylum”
Why aren’t Zoo’s called sanctuaries?
I don’t think there is any definition that describes what modern zoos do better than that.
Zoos are a sacred place.
Through education, zoos get people of all ages to see and feel reverence towards wildlife. They hope that this inspires them to protect all of the world’s creatures. People go to zoos because of what is called biophilia- which is life’s attraction towards life. It’s the instinctive bond between human beings and other living things.
Zoos are a place where the worship of life can occur in a world where wildlife is rapidly disappearing.
Zoos provide refuge and asylum.
Many rehabilitated animals find good homes in Zoos. Eagles with damaged wings, condors that have ingested too much lead. Pet parrots that no one wants any more. Orphaned elephants with no where else to live. Where would these animals go if not to Zoos?
Critically endangered species like the Sumatran rhino, or the Amur leopard often can’t go back to the wild. They are too precious and it’s just too dangerous. Or there is no wild left. They often stay in wildlife facilities- sometimes in places that don’t have the resources that a good Zoo can offer.
Beliefs are the hardest things to change. I believe in Zoos. I believe in the work they do. I believe in the education, conservation, research and recreation that go on at a Zoo. I was taken to Zoos as a child. I close my eyes and still remember seeing, breathing, smelling, and feeling a zebra up close for the first time. I have felt a lions roar go through my heart, and the thunder of a stampede of elephants vibrate up through my legs. All at a Zoo.
I’m almost 40 and I’ve never been able to afford a trip to Africa. But at least I have Zoos.
Some people don’t believe in Zoos.
They may never. That’s OK.
But how do you believe an elephant doesn’t belong in a zoo, yet an ant, or an aardvark- or a gorilla does. How do you draw that line?
Webster’s definition of a Zoo is:
“A public park or large enclosure where animals are kept for public display”
Is that so bad?
By Councilmember Cardenas’s description- the new sanctuary he wants to set up would actually be a Zoo…

I may not be an accredited animal expert but I have common sense. Why move Billy to retirement, to obscurity, to non existence at a sanctuary for his sole benefit when he can remain at the LA Zoo and benefit the remaining population of the Asian Elephant community which includes the elephants and the elephant researchers that continually learn to care for them? The sanctuary is a sterile end-of-the-line for Billy when he has nothing left to offer to the remaining population of Asian Elephants.


Jack Hanna is not an elephant expert and certainly has not researched the true facts about them. Free Billy now and stop allowing him to suffer in misery. How dare Jack Hanna get involved with this important issue. Tell him to read elephants.com. Others who have voted are thinking of zoos being a wonderful place. For elephants it is a death sentence and this can be proven by anyone that takes the time to do the research instead of voting for something so critical that they are doing a great disservice to all elephants in zoos by casting a vote and not knowing the facts.

Check out how many elephants have died in zoos and why!!! Bily's situation right now is nothing short of animal cruelty and abuse and we all know that this zoo director will allow an elephants to die a horrible death before he will allow it to go to a sanctuary where it can be healed and live out many years as an elephant in freedom of chains of misery.
Shame on you Jack Hanna!!! I dare you to go see the horrid St. Louis Zoo, a powerful entity in town. See poor Pearl that they claim is too sick to be moved (B/S) Intelligent, well-educated about elephants have been trying to get her released to sanctuary for three years. See her stand in the corner and shake. Then let's see you reaction to lies!!! Do something positive and help these elephants with infected feet and artheritus. Help them and quit acting stupid everyone of you that voted to keep
Billy suffering! Shame on all of you!!!

Non-human animals - like the human animal - suffer in captivity. No species can flourish in a prison; there have been enough studies made of to corroborate this. A zoo - however well it professes to be equipped - cannot provide a wild animal with the equivalent to its complex natural world, which has no boundaries. Diminished to life in a small featureless square, the elephant's highly tuned senses are starved. In the wild, these magnificent, intelligent beasts cover vast tracts of land. In captivity, they walk in circles (and lest we forget, an elephant can live for 70 years...). In the wild, they display an extraordinary range of emotions, are capable of altruism and grief, just as we are. In captivity, these living animals become parodies of their true selves. Little wonder that so many of them show signs of stereotypic, sometimes psychotic behaviour in their man-made prisons. There is little to be gained educationally from such observation; conservation projects to preserve species are risible. A zoo is a prison. What are its inmates being punished for? What is their crime? They are merely slaves to our whims. Free Billy. It is the only just and humane course.

"Los Angeles Zoo (California) - Learn about the wild - spending, that is The Los Angeles Zoo has a terrible history with elephants. Of the 13 who died there since 1975, more than half did not live 20 years, about a third of an elephant's natural lifespan. The zoo's solitary elephant Billy incessantly bobs his head up and down, a sign of psychological distress. Yet the zoo wants to construct a $42 million exhibit that still won't provide the space and natural conditions elephants need to live longer and healthier lives. In the past 10 years, zoos around the globe have spent or committed an estimated $500 million to build or renovate displays for about 250 captive elephants, despite the gross lack of evidence that these changes will improve health or longevity. By contrast, the Kenya Wildlife Service protects tens of thousands of free-ranging elephants on an annual budget of only $20 million. Those free-ranging elephants, despite facing the elements, habitat loss, and poachers, live an average three times as long as their cousins held captive in zoos. Fortunately, the City of Los Angeles is questioning the logic of its staggeringly expensive elephant exhibit, and will vote in January on canceling the project and sending Billy to a large, natural-habitat sanctuary. The Los Angeles Zoo makes IDA's Ten Worst Zoos for Elephants list for the fourth time, plus an additional time when it received our Dishonorable Mention." -In Defense of Animals

Obvious yes I read Ron's statement I do wonder where he got his info....... as he stated Billy would be alone ..... fact there is a male elephant already at PAWS Nic .... so if he has one item wrong then there might be other info that is wrong. I always ask readers to educate themselves do NOT take what is written in this blog and also by the zoo as the truth. Example it has been implied that Sanctuary's are NOT accredited. Sorry to say they are accredited just not by the AZA. IF you were to read the AZA guidelines and the Sanctuary guidelines you would realize the Sanctuary has much more higher standards. All I ask is that you educate yourselves and that means find the info on the AZA and Sanctuary guidelines and then make an informed decision. The Sanctuary in Tennessee has 24/7 care and a vet on call 24/7 where as the zoo "closes their doors" at a certain time and what?? Who is there to look after the animals? I am just amazed 43 million for 3.5 acres that is not very much space and also a lot of money for said space. Please understand IF elephants are to survive in Zoo's they must improve the exhibits. Just these exhibts need to be made with the elephant in mind and NOT pleasing to the human eye and for our benefit. We do not live there 24/7 - the elephant does!!

Few creatures who live their lives in American zoos are actually native to this country.

Why have we decided that it's a reasonable and justifiable thing to do to imprison them in zoos? Where is it written that children need to see live animals in order to appreciate them and, hopefully, care enough about them to preserve them.

Even if you're not an animal activist, as an educated human being you should realize that all life is precious and was created for a purpose. Humans have no right to do to animals what we do. The only reason we do it is because WE CAN. How pathetic!

I've been to PAWs. It take issue with what one poster was saying. The animals that live as PAWs live as near to their natural habitat as possible. They are free to do as they wish. The elephants have a huge expanse of land on which to roam. They do roam somedays and somedays they choose to stay close to the barn. The key factor here is that they get to CHOOSE. Animals are thinking, feeling creatures. They experience nearly every feeling and emotion that we do.
Again, I ask, who are we to deny them of their right to live as their individual behaviors dictate?

Lots of zoo studies mention that on average, adults and children spend less than a minute in front of the enclosures of most of the animals. That's not educating as far as I'm concerned.

I particularly love big cats. I would be thrilled to see an eagle. Do I believe I have an inherent RIGHT to see these animals "caged" in a zoo simply to satisfy my desire to look at them? No, I don't believe I do. It is enough for me to know that they exist and if I am lucky enough to actually see one of these creatures in their own world one day, I will consider it an extreme privilege.

Mankind is truly the most arrogant, self-centered and destructive species on the planet. WE need to evolve.

Stop spending millions on palacial animal prisons and devote that money to habitat preservation, provide monetary aid and education to native peoples so they take an interest in protecting and preserving their wildlife. Help them so they can in turn help themselves and their lands.

Send Billy to PAWs. Let him be with his own brethren.

Elephants should not be in captivity, used and exploited for the entertainment of humans.

F.A.Q about elephants in captivity:



Zoos are a relic of the past and should be phased out. You can never give an animal the same conditions as it gets in the wild and they only live a small fraction of the time they would in their natural conditions especially elephants. Shame on all who support zoos - usually because they gain financially from them, of course.

First of all, I would like to know if people think keeping elephants in zoos is wrong, than you must also think keeping any animal in captivity is wrong, even cows, horses, pigs, and chickens!

Second, if anyone has actually researched anything about elephants you would know that there are only 30,000 Asian Elephants and 200,000 African Elephants left in the wild. By opposing zoos you are condemning ANY and ALL species to extinction because of the human race.

Zoos are trying to fix the mistakes we have made by ruining their native habitat. If you oppose zoos answer this: Would you rather send an elephant to live in a dangerous and destroyed habitat where poachers and other threats are VERY REAL, or would you attempt to save the species by keeping it in captivity.


For everyone who just says "send Billy to a sanctuary" DO YOUR RESEARCH! Most sanctuarys only take female elephants because of musth (Asians) and size (Africans). There are very few non-zoos that would have the ability and the capacity to take Billy.

If you have any reason to doubt my argument, go ahead but realize that every time you stall construction or create an anti-zoo argument realize that YOU ARE TO BLAME when the elephant is wiped off the face of the earth . . .

Too bad we can't ask Billy what he thinks. If he could talk I am sure many would be surprised by his answer. But since we cannot communicate with Billy in that way, we have a responsibility to him to give him the best care possible. Where many of you may believe a sanctuary to be a better solution, you should also consider how long Billy has been in his current environment and receiving the care he receives. To change that now could and probably would be far more detrimental to him on a number of levels. Many folks have dogs and sometimes their lives change to a degree that is less appropriate for the dog but many folks would never think of sending their dog to live elsewhere nor would friends suggest it. They believe the dog is best staying with them then not. Billy's caregivers have an equal attachment and desire to do what is best for Billy. I am not particularly a fan of caging animals but it is not a black and white issue and there are many extenuating facts and circumstances that suggest a resrticted living environment is far outweighed by the benefits recieved by a captive life. He should have the best home possible. It is our duty to provide that and sending him away is only a show of abandonment for a responsibility we assumed 30 years ago when Billy was brought here. Those who think where he lives now is inhumane should actually be the first in line to donate money to build his new habitat - that at this point is the most humane thing we could do! Stop talking about it and do it for Billy's sake.

The one elephant that was moved from LA Zoo died not long after she was moved. I truly believe that she missed the envirnment and other elephants she was with for so long that she died of heart break and loneliness. I have witnessed two other animals that did that very thing. Keep the elephants in the LA ZOO! They are loved and properly cared for.

Liberen al elefante!!
Marcela Cadena
México, DF

That is really sad what someone wrote about the person that died at the Elephant Sanctuary in TN.
Again, do your research before making such stupid comments. Do you even know the history of that elephant? Did you know the abuse that elephant suffered before going to the sanctuary? Did you know zoo handlers have been killed in zoos? Shame on you.
Look how all of us have had different experiences at the zoo (LA Zoo) One person said they felt as though they could feel the animals and it was like being in Africa. I am glad that person has that fantasy to keep in their mind.
The animals on the other hand, long for being uncaged, long for natural contact with their own kind, to live free in the wild.
Greed - money - wasted dollars. The closest zoo where I live now is not free. I took my children their once - when they were old enough to understand and not just gawk at the animals and eat ice cream all day.
I am glad my children made the decision to never support cruelty to animals and they have never gone to a zoo since.
Please stop lumping everyone into one category that does not agree with zoos or captivity of wild animals.
The fact is that elephants do not survive in zoos as long as they would in their natural habitat. Yes, animals are killed by other animals in the wild. Does that mean we should gather one of every species and put it in a cage or behind glass to make it safe?
Do what is best for Billy the elephant and not what will please politicians or humans.

I totally agree with Hanna. Billy the elephant needs to be put where he needs to be for healthiest for his species of elephants, in fact don't believe any should be in zoos unless they are being taken care of due to problems but need their habitat the way it needs to be for them. Please help Hannah to be able to help Billy. What are we more interested in our pleasure or the humane thing to do for this elephant who deserves it. I went to the LA zoo with my grand daughter last april. She wanted to see the elephant. She, at 8 years old, said grandma, the elephant looks so sad, and it was a sad moment I think for me and her and the animal, now I hear one died..Yeah they got a tiny space.. DONT PUT UP ELEPHANTS TO GET MONEY BE HUMANE THESE ARE GOD'S CREATURES!

To ColumbusZoo001: Your post is ridiculous. Elephants aren't going to be saved from extinction by keeping less than 300 of them in zoos. Studies have shown there is no correlation between seeing an elephant in zoos and wild elephant conservation efforts. In additon, the zoo industry's elephant breeding program is a failure. Of all Asian elephants born in the last 10 years, for instance, 76% of them are now dead. Many LA Zoo elephants died before age 20. The industry itself debunked that so-called Noah's Ark theory 13 years ago that zoos could save them by keeping and breeding them. If zoos are really interested in saving elephants from extinction, then they should direct the milllions of dollars they are wasting by maintaining less than 300 elephants in zoos and their breeding program in which they are dying faster than they can be replaced. The public now knows that those claims are nothing but zoo-industry hype. Zoos should contribute instaed to anti-poaching, human-elephant conflict and anti-habitat destruction projects in Asia and Africa. The public will longer allow you to market a 19th century form of show business as a noble conservation and educational effort. Zoos, it's time to get real!

Dear bcelefan - sorry, I misstated the facts. You're correct, there is one other male elephant at PAWS, Nicholas, who they are trying to get rid of. As soon as they find somewhere that will take him, he'll be gone. I got this from their website a few minutes ago.

Unlike some of the posters on this blog, I admit when I'm wrong.

Once again though, read the tenor of the posts. Those against the Pacyderm Forest project are mostly against any zoo. They'd rather the animals die in the wild than live, well cared for in zoos.

Animal activist have been accused of denying people the freedom of choice of enjoying the results of the exploitations of animals. Apparently, because some need to polish their eyes looking to a miserable living being, it must be ethical, to imprison a wild animal for life, despite the suffering involved.
What a selfish and limited perspective.
Nothing more then a shallow and temporary pleasure experienced at the expenses of a tormented life of another sentient being, discriminated with the unexamined assumption that he must be on Earth for our entertainment.
Since the time of the gladiators in Rome and more recently the disables in circuses, many perceptions have apparently changed, but human selfishness has persisted and manifested in different forms, remaining unaltered at his roots.
How long will humanity take before expanding compassion to all living beings?
Animals are those that have been abused and confined and we need to reestablish the freedom that humans have successfully deprived them of.
In the context of clashing of interests, this is the freedom that counts the most, as a basic right.
The only way we can stop this self centered bias toward other beings is to adopt a biocentric perspective of life, in which the inherent interests of other species are also taken into perspective. Then only, the destructive human insanity against non human animals will stop and it will be the truest form of conservation.

Como va a estar mejor un elefante en un zoologico que en su hábitat natural, deberían de poner reglas para
que los que no saben de animales ni tontos escriban,
es mejor LIBRE como nació en su habitat no encerrado
en una jaula con gente que ni los cuida bien ni les dan
de comer.


Keep Billy at the wonderful L.A. Zoo where he will be comfortable and not traumatized by moving, and where zoo visitors, especially kids, can see what magnificent animals elephants are. For education and science, we need good zoos and we need elephants living there. Finish the Pachyderm Forest.

The quote below says it all:

God loved the birds and
invented trees.
Man loved the birds and
invented cages.
-Jacques Deval


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