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Another heated debate over the L.A. Zoo's elephant enclosure

November 8, 2008 |  7:52 am

Lily Tomlin

The Daily News reports that animal activists and zoo supporters locked horns in a heated battle Thursday over whether the Los Angeles Zoo should stop construction of a new $42 million elephant enclosure.

Among a herd of celebrities, including former game-show host Bob Barker and several "Desperate Housewives" cast members, actress Lily Tomlin said subjecting elephants to zoo life amounts to torture.

"The word 'zoo' is sort of elephant-speak for Guantanamo," Tomlin said.

"Golden Girl" Betty White also showed, but spoke in favor of building the new enclosure and dismissed claims that the lone remaining elephant at the zoo was stressed out or depressed.

The City Council's Arts, Parks, Health and Aging Committee recommended to the full council that construction continue.

Those in favor of the six-acre enclosure told the committee the new habitat would be more comfortable for the zoo's elephant population - which currently sits at just one, a 21-year-old Asian elephant named Billy - and boost the zoo's prestige.

Opponents say the millions of dollars the city would spend to build the enclosure and care for the animals should instead go to projects that would directly benefit humans.

Photo: Tomlin visits Jenny the elephant at the Dallas Zoo.  LM Otero/Associated Press.

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