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L.A. City Council set to decide the fate of Billy the elephant

January 28, 2009 | 12:48 pm

The L.A. City Council is expected to decide the fate of Billy, the L.A. Zoo's lone elephant, in a vote today

The Los Angeles City Council's Arts, Parks, Health and Aging Committee met Tuesday afternoon. On the agenda? Billy, the L.A. Zoo's sole elephant, and the construction -- currently on hold -- of the planned $42-million Pachyderm Forest exhibit that the zoo intends to become Billy's home.

After the meeting, chairman Tom LaBonge said he would recommend that the full City Council vote to continue the Pachyderm Forest's construction, which began in 2006 but was put on hold in December.  Our colleague Carla Hall reports:

"I appreciate the passion of those who feel the other way," said LaBonge, the zoo's most ardent supporter on the council. But he reasserted his belief that the zoo would build a world-class exhibit. And, he said, he was confident the zoo's fundraising group would follow through on its offer, tendered last month, to put up millions more for the exhibit and ease the city's financial obligation on the project.

Councilman Tony Cardenas, who has led the movement to abort the project, said at the committee meeting, "All too often people say the zoos of today are different from the zoos of the '60s and '70s. Quite frankly, things have gotten a little better, but there is still, by my research, a big issue with elephants in confined spaces."

A decision from the City Council is expected today.

-- Lindsay Barnett

Photo: Spencer Weiner / Los Angeles Times

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