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Los Angeles Zoo elephant lawsuit moves forward

September 24, 2009 |  6:00 am

A lawsuit charging the Los Angeles Zoo with abusing elephants will be allowed to go to trial, a three-judge panel of California's 2nd District Court of Appeal ruled on Wednesday.

A Los Angeles County Superior Court judge had initially ruled that the issues raised in the suit were political and not for a court to decide.

The appeals court decided otherwise.

"The bottom line is we're entitled to our day in court and they sent it back to trial," said David Casselman who filed the suit on behalf of actor Robert Culp and real estate agent Aaron Leider.

Both men brought the suit as California taxpayers under the state's taxpayer waste statute. They allege that the zoo -- a city agency -- has violated the statute by managing elephants in a way that abuses and injures them.

The zoo, long a target for elephant welfare advocates, is in the process of building a large new exhibit to house the pachyderms. The zoo, which currently has only one elephant, Billy,  has consistently maintained they vigilantly care for the animals.

-- Carla Hall