L.A. City Council urged to free zoo elephants

L.A. drive time radio listeners will do a double take when they hear the voice of television personality Bob Barker, host of CBS-TV’s long-running game show “The Price Is Right,” urging them to oppose a costly plan to expand L.A. Zoo’s elephant exhibit – at taxpayer expense.

The radio spot was paid for by In Defense of Animals (IDA) in protest of L.A. Zoo’s controversial elephant exhibit proposal that would waste $40 million in taxpayer money and still not provide the space that elephants need to thrive.

L.A. City Council will vote on the controversial elephant exhibit expansion plan on Wednesday, April 19th. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa has repeatedly stated he does not support keeping elephants in zoos and even promised during his election campaign to remove the elephants from L.A. Zoo.

This is not the first time Barker has been at the center of a national controversy surrounding the care of elephants. He presented important testimony before Congress on behalf of captive elephants in 2000. In 2006, he pled for L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and City Council to send the elephants at Los Angeles Zoo to a sanctuary:

“We should ignore this suggestion of increasing the habitat and release those elephants and let them go into a sanctuary where they can spend the few remaining years to them in an atmosphere that is the nearest possible thing to their normal way of living in the wild.”

L.A. Zoo’s proposed expansion has landed the City in the middle of a national debate about the ability of urban zoos to provide for the vast spatial and social needs of elephants, Earth’s largest land mammal. In the wild, elephants live in large, tightly-knit family groups and range tens of miles a day, which maintains their health and well-being.

L.A. Zoo’s plan calls for holding TEN elephants on 3.5-acres, subdivided into four yards; though only about 2.5 acres of the exhibit is actual useable space. Lack of space in zoos is directly linked to crippling and often-lethal physical conditions, such as arthritis and chronic foot infection, as well as neurotic repetitive behaviors such as head bobbing and swaying. All these conditions are seen in the three elephants at L.A. Zoo.

Eight U.S. zoos have closed their elephant exhibits, citing inability to properly care for elephants, including Detroit and San Francisco in 2005. Other zoos that plan to close or phase out their exhibits include Bronx Zoo, Philadelphia Zoo and Santa Barbara Zoo.

From Save Elephants

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