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

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

Comments () | Archives (4)

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What an embarrassing outcome!

What is most disturbing is that many Councilmembers are using “children” for their ulterior motives while their purposes have nothing to do with children’s happiness or animals’ welfare. There apparently are political pressures with certain people pledging donations to the city, and I understand why some Councilmembers may want to oblige in order to bring more funds to better the city. But it is morally wrong to sacrifice this innocent animal, or any living being, for sheer greed and power games.

It is astonishing that the Councilmembers who voted to keep Billy in the enclosure did not learn from what the city did to Gita. Or the 14 elephants who died prematurely in the LA Zoo. Today’s decision will teach children that one’s selfish enjoyment is more important than others’ suffering.

What would have been so wrong to use the money and build an IMAX, so that kids can learn where elephants belong to? If they are worried about the Zoo employees’ jobs, they can work at LAAS, which is destroying animals while there are rows of empty cages because of employee shortage!

Twelve US zoos already closed their elephant enclosures and another six will phase out their elephant exhibits, including the highly regarded Bronx Zoo. Today the Council proved that LA is not as progressive as it claims, as it has failed to get with what other cities like New York have already done.

Today is a sad day that Los Angeles has officially become a City of Greed, instead of City of Angels.

Amen, Marie. So what else is new? Most politicians are corrupt, selfishly ambitious people, just like the zoo. They don't give a rat's behind about Billy or any other animal. A plethora of elephant experts presented evidence galore and it didn't make any difference to them. The City Councilmember who proudly announced that she's gone to the zoo for years and takes her kids made me run for the anti-nausea medicine. I wonder how she'd like it if someone locked her up in the same cell where they kept Gita.? Scum of the earth......

I'm gravely dissapointed and saddened for Billy. Mr. Lampi, Director of Anchorage Zoo, recently sent me an e-mail. He stated that although it was a difficult decision and the zoo was against sending their lone elephant, Maggie, to a sanctuary, it was the best thing they could have done and Maggie is thriving and doing extremely well at PAWS. The zoo and LaBonge made a mistake here and they know it. Obviously, they didn't learn from Gita or the rest that died...and they don't care.

Marie ... CreamyDove ...

Get over yourselves.


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