Since 1975, 14 elephants have died at the Los Angeles Zoo. More than half of them died before the age of 20. The average lifespan in the wild is 70.
In January of 2009, after hearing the testimonies of ALL of the world’s most respected elephant experts arguing against it, the LA City Council voted 11-4 to keep Billy, the lone elephant, at the LA Zoo and to continue building what the experts agreed would be a spatially insufficient $42 million elephant exhibit for him and up to 10 new elephants.
We originally filed a lawsuit in August of 2007 against the LA Zoo claiming that the treatment of elephants there resulted in numerous deaths and was not only cruel but also a waste of taxpayer funds. In May of 2008, the City won a Motion for Summary Judgment which we then appealed. The Appellate Court ruled in our favor, saying that there were, indeed, triable issues. The City then appealed to the State Supreme Court to overturn the ruling, but the Supreme Court denied their request.
The trial is set to begin in November of 2010.
We need to raise funds to support our case by flying in all of the world's leading elephant authorities to testify once more. They will be coming from Kenya, Thailand, Cambodia, the UK and various parts of the US.
It has been scientifically established that the practice of keeping the world’s largest land mammals in spatially insufficient enclosures is, in fact, inhumane. It leads to physical and psychological ailments that are the direct cause of premature death and it is a practice of no consequence to the conservation of the species. It has been proven that elephants, very much like humans, suffer from emotional trauma and stress, and because of this die younger in captivity. No artificial enclosure, however attractive it may appear to us, can possibly afford a captive elephant the space it needs.
Of the 27 elephant calves born in captivity in the US over the last decade only 7 remain alive and no elephant born in captivity has ever been released into the wild. Zoos continue to capture elephants from the wild, significantly contributing to their diminishing numbers.
The key to conservation is not to hold these majestic animals confined in zoos and circuses, the key to conservation is to protect their natural habitats.