Momma and Baby

A Small Victory for Three Elephants


In 2007, a lawsuit was filed on behalf of actor Robert Culp (now deceased) and real estate broker Aaron Leider seeking to close the redesigned elephant exhibit at the Los Angeles Zoo (L.A. Zoo) as the new exhibit still did not provide the space and natural conditions the elephants need for health and well-being.

On Tuesday July 24th, California Superior Court Judge John L. Segal issued an injunction against the L.A. Zoo prohibiting the use of bull hooks and electric shock, required the zoo to till the soil in the exhibit regularly, and to exercise the elephants a minimum of two hours a day.

Judge Segal stated in his 56 page decision, “All is not well at the Los Angeles Zoo. Contrary to what the zoo’s representatives may have told the Los Angeles City Council in order to get construction of the $42 million exhibit approved and funded, the elephants are not healthy, happy or thriving.”

Mark Boster LA Times Credit

Tina and Jewel have been at the L.A. Zoo since November 2010
(Photo: Mark Boser / LA Times)

The Elephants of Asia exhibit consists of two acres of useable space subdivided into five yards. The three L.A. Zoo elephants, Billy, Tina, and Jewel, have lived there since it opened in 2010. Since the exhibits inception, animal advocates have stated it does not provide adequate room for the elephants to exercise and does not enrich their lives. Judge Segal agreed, saying “the quality of life that Billy, Tina, and Jewel endure in their captivity is particularly poor.” He was also critical of zookeepers’ knowledge of elephant behavior.

Billy - LA Zoo

Billy has been at the L.A. Zoo since 1989

Last Chance for Animals (LCA) has been campaigning for the closure of the L.A. Zoo elephant exhibit for over 27 years. LCA’s Special Investigation Unit provided the prosecution with undercover footage of Billy, when he was young, being brutally beaten during training. Billy has been at the L.A. Zoo since 1989; Tina and Jewel arrived in November 2010.

LCA’s Chris DeRose said: “I applaud the decision of Judge Segal and actions of Aaron Leider and the late Robert Culp. The L.A. Zoo elephant exhibit should be closed for good and the elephants relocated to a sanctuary where they can have the room they need to roam, forage and bond with other elephants. To quote Los Angeles Mayor Villaraigosa, “A zoo is not an appropriate place for an animal as large as an elephant.”

Read more about LCA’s Elephant Sanctuaries – Not Captivity campaign and how sanctuaries, not the zoo, are where these elephants should be living.

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