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L.A. Zoo officials ordered to report to city council committee over USDA investigation into elephant, chimp deaths

July 23, 2009 |  1:43 pm

Gita the elephant at the L.A. Zoo in 1999

City Councilman Tony Cardenas has ordered Los Angeles Zoo officials to appear before a council committee to discuss the U.S. Department of Agriculture's investigation into the deaths of an elephant and a chimpanzee at the zoo three years ago.

The USDA, which enforces the Animal Welfare Act, cited the zoo for failing to get veterinary care quickly to the animals when they were stricken. (The elephant, Gita, was found down in her enclosure in June of 2006. The next month, a chimpanzee, Judeo, was bitten by a rattlesnake.)

The zoo paid a $3,281 fine, but officials have steadfastly maintained they did everything possible to save both animals. The fine came to public attention only this week.

Cardenas has also directed the city attorney's office to investigate whether the zoo improperly withheld information about the USDA investigation when private citizens made public records requests for it.

L.A. Zoo was fined following 2006 deaths of elephant Gita and chimpanzee Judeo
City Council votes to keep Billy the elephant at the L.A. Zoo

-- Carla Hall

Photo: Gita (in foreground) at the L.A. Zoo in 1999.  Credit: Al Seib / Los Angeles Times

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