Last Chance for Animals

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elephants la zoo billyLCA is campaigning to permanently close down the elephant exhibit and to stop any more elephants from a life in captivity.The LA Zoo’s ‘Elephants of Asia’ exhibit opened on December 16th 2010. Although the exhibit is larger than the previous elephant exhibit at the zoo, it is still not big enough to give the 3 elephants that currently live at the LA Zoo the room they need, and certainly not big enough for the additional 9 elephants that the zoo says the exhibit will be able to accommodate.

In 2007, a lawsuit was filed by David Casselman (working pro-bono) 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). The lawsuit was filed under taxpayer waste statutes; the basis of the claim is that the elephants are not being properly taken care of as the new exhibit still does not provide the space and natural conditions the elephants need for health and well-being.

On Tuesday July 24th 2012, 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.”

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.

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 attorney David Casselman, 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.””

LCA is campaigning to permanently close down the elephant exhibit and to stop any more elephants from a life in captivity.

The fate of the Los Angeles Zoo elephants became especially important to local citizens after the death of Tara in December 2004 and Gita in June 2006. For more information about Gita and her death, visit the memorial page

"The L.A. Zoo exhibit should be closed down permanently so no more elephants have to suffer and die there.”
Chris DeRose, President & Founder LCA

Elephant Deaths at the L.A. Zoo

The elephants at the L.A. Zoo are dying from captivity related diseases; Since 1975, eleven elephants have died at the L.A. Zoo, there are, also, six elephants with unknown histories and incomplete records.

In addition to Gita’s death in 2006 and Ruby in 2011, the most recent elephant death was in December 2004, when Tara was found lying on her side. She passed away shortly afterwards at the young age of 39. Her necropsy shows cause of death as acute heart failure.

The average age of death for L.A. Zoo elephants since 1975 is 22 years. By comparison, a wild elephant’s natural lifespan can be over 70 years.


pawprint mini greenLearn more about: Wild vs. Captive



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