From Warren Eckstein - Judge: L.A. Zoo elephants 'not happy, healthy, thriving'Aug-01-2012
Offering harsh criticism of the Los Angeles Zoo's treatment of elephants, a judge has ordered keepers to exercise the animals, till their soil and not use bullhooks or electric prods.
But Superior Court Judge John L. Segal stopped short of ordering the $42 million elephant exhibit shut down, as called for in a lawsuit by the late actor Robert Culp and real estate agent Aaron Leider.
In a 56-page decision that followed a six-day trial in June, Segal on Monday said "all is not well at the Elephants of Asia exhibit."
"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, and thriving," Segal wrote.
But, he added, "evidence is inconclusive on the issue of how much space an elephant needs (or three elephants need) ..."
Leider and Culp sued Zoo Director John Lewis and the city five years ago for an injunction to shut down the city's new exhibit on grounds it was too small to humanely house elephants.
The lawsuit alleged the zoo was guilty of animal abuse.
It also asserted government waste and injury to public property, including the deaths of 14 elephants over the years.
The 2007 lawsuit came on the heels of an attempt by animal welfare activists to prevent the exhibit from opening in December 2010, and to pack off its remaining pachyderms to a sanctuary.
The zoo currently houses three Asian elephants within 3.8 acres: 27-year-old Billy the bull, and Tina and Jewel, both females once rescued from an abusive circus.
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Posted by Ken at 6:49 PM
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