Free Billy the Elephant from His Lonely, Cramped Life at the L.A. Zoo

  • by: Karen Eisenlord
  • target: L.A. Zoo Director John R. Lewis, Mayor of Los Angeles Eric Garcetti, and the Los Angeles City Council, California
Billy the elephant has lived at the Los Angeles Zoo for nearly 30 years, since he was taken as a youngster from his natural environment in Malaysia. For most of this time, he has endured living all by himself in an extremely tiny enclosure. As a result, he has displayed significant signs of stress, such as swaying and rocking side to side and head-bobbing due to frustration, boredom and possibly depression.
 
Elephants naturally need to roam several miles a day to maintain healthy joints and feet. They are also highly intelligent, sensitive, and social animals who need to be engaged by their surroundings in order to be happy. Billy has none of this. 
 
The last time I saw Billy at the L.A. Zoo I was horrified to see how miserable he looks in his cramped enclosure. I am not alone in being worried that Billy will face the same fate as his predecessors at the Los Angeles Zoo, who died prematurely due to conditions elephants often acquire while living in enclosed and cramped quarters.  

After public protests and a lawsuit filed on Billy's behalf a few years ago, the Los Angeles Zoo promised to close down the old elephant exhibit and build a bigger, better enclosure for Billy that would be more like his natural environment. 
 
Upon visiting the new exhibit, however, I was shocked to find that poor Billy is still being kept in a tiny area separate from the other elephants. He was still displaying the same repetitive swaying and head-bobbing behavior that demonstrates his stress, boredom, and depression. When I spoke to the attendant on duty, he had no awareness of the basic needs of elephants, such as their need for daily exercise. He told me that the elephants were rotated from one small area to another. 
 
This new "state-of-the-art" elephant exhibit is not at all what the L.A. Zoo promised it would be. It seems to me that the new exhibit was built more to impress paying visitors than to meet Billy's needs. I feel betrayed and lied to by the Los Angeles Zoo, and I'm still very much concerned about the fate of Billy.
 
Please sign this petition to demand that the L.A. Zoo free Billy to an elephant sanctuary because he is displaying severe signs of stress in his present environment. 
 
NOTICE -- We are planning an anti-captivity protest at the Los Angeles Zoo on October 21st from 10:00 am to noon. Please mark your calendars - we need people there! It is sponsored by 'Compassion Works International'. Bring friends and family! This will be a general anti-captivity, anti-zoo, anti-exploitation demonstration for ALL of the Animals held at the zoo. Billy and the other elephants are a part of this as well as all of the other animals at the zoo. Bring signs along the lines of "Freedom Matters" and/or "Let Wild Things Be Wild". Nothing graphic and NO profanity. Please see the rules for the protest below - we hope to see you there! And please let us know if you have any questions or concerns. Rules for Protest at Los Angeles Zoo: 1. We must remain 16 feet away from the entrance and the ticket booth 2. We cannot impede traffic (auto or pedestrian) 3. No tables or chairs 4. No graphic signs 5. No sound amplification equipment can be used, per the Los Angeles Zoo Free Speech Policy For more information, please contact; Kiersten at kcluster4756@roadrunner.com and Karen at karenleis@gmail.com PLEASE CONTINUE TO WRITE TO THE LOS ANGELES CITY COUNCIL TO FREE BILLY THE ELEPHANT TO A SANCTUARY HERE -- https://www.lacity.org/your-government/elected-officials/city-council/council-directory 

We are asking that signers of this petition please inundate Los Angeles City Council and the Mayor with calls and letters/emails that politely express that they do not agree with elephants being kept in zoos and why, and that they should be released to elephant sanctuaries.

Below is the contact information for the Mayor and City Council Members:

councilmember.cedillo@lacity.org, councilmember.krekorian@lacity.org, councilmember.blumenfield@lacity.org, david.ryu@lacity.org paul.koretz@lacity.org, councilmember.martinez@lacity.org, councilmember.fuentes@lacity.org, councilmember.harris-dawson@lacity.org, councilmember.price@lacity.org, councilmember.wesson@lacity.org councilmember.bonin@lacity.org, councilmember.englander@lacity.org, councilmember.ofarrell@lacity.org, councilmember.huizar@lacity.org, councildistrict15@lacity.org, councilmember.buscaino@lacity.org, mayor.garcetti@lacity.org

This link gives their addresses for regular mail: https://www.lacity.org/city-government/city-council/council-directory

Phone lines -- https://www.lacity.org/city-government/city-directory

Mayor Garcetti -- http://www.lamayor.org/talk-us

I would like to share some of the hard work that 'Elephant Guardians of Los Angeles' have been doing, including aspiring to open up a new elephant sanctuary for elephant bulls in joined forces with the Kerulos Center based on ten principles of being: knowing, safety, self-determination, acceptance, support and trust. http://www.kerulos.org/our-projects/being-sanctuary/10-principles-of-sanctuary/

Below are articles and a recent video that shows poor Billy displaying his stress-related behavior of head-bobbing. You need to scroll down on the 'L.A. Progressive' news article by Marcy Winograd.

https://www.laprogressive.com/elephant-guardians/

http://www.elephantguardians.org/

http://www.kerulos.org/our-projects/abes/billys-campaign-freedom/

http://www.kerulos.org/our-projects/abes/

http://releasebilly.blogspot.com/2016_02_01_archive.html

http://releasebilly.blogspot.com/search?updated-min=2016-01-01T00:00:00-08:00&updated-max=2017-01-01T00:00:00-08:00&max-results=8

I ask for donations to the worthy cause of opening up an all elephant bull sanctuary at the Kerulos Center here: http://www.kerulos.org/donate

In closing I would like to share a poet's hauntingly beautiful yet sad write:

http://tanaka8120.deviantart.com/art/Extinction-576202449

On behalf of Billy the Elephant at the Los Angeles Zoo, we the signers of this petition request that he be retired to an elephant sanctuary immediately. He has suffered enough as evidenced by his display of stress-related behavior. The new elephant exhibit at the Los Angeles Zoo does not meet Billy's needs as he is still being kept in small enclosures away from the other elephants. This has been witnessed by many who have visited the zoo within the past few years. Anyone that observes Billy in this new exhibit can attest to this. It is also brings to question if Billy is receiving the daily exercise that a judge ordered for him to get, as caretakers who are questioned apparently do not have answers nor understand the needs of elephants. In fact, the other two elephants, Tina and Jewel who are elderly and we have since learned were victims of the circus in their youth, should be released to sanctuaries also. It is clear that the Los Angeles Zoo's elephant exhibit should be shut down as it is not meeting the needs of the elephants. For those who visit the new exhibit first-hand they soon learn that the new exhibit is not what the zoo had claimed it would be, as the elephants are rotated from one small enclosure to another and poor Billy is exhibiting stress-related behavior -- swaying, rocking and head-bobbing. He is miserable, bored, frustrated and depressed. Please release these animals to a sanctuary. The elephant exhibit at the Los Angeles Zoo needs to be shut down and the elephants retired to a sanctuary where they can live out the remainder of their lives where their needs will be met more appropriately. Thank you for your attention to this matter.
Update #613 days ago
We are planning an anti-captivity protest at the Los Angeles Zoo on October 21st from 10:00 am to noon. Please mark your calendars - Bring friends and family! This will be a general anti-captivity, anti-zoo, anti-exploitation demonstration for ALL of the Animals held at the zoo. Bring signs along the lines of "Freedom Matters" and/or "Let Wild Things Be Wild". See rules on petition.
For more information, please contact; Kiersten at kcluster4756@roadrunner.com and Karen at karenleis@gmail.com
Update #55 months ago
A resolution is before the City Council to release Billy to a sanctuary! Please phone and email these officials to show your support, as it must pass a vote -- paul.koretz@lacity.org, 213-473-7005, councilmember.ofarrell@lacity.org, 213-473-7013, councilmember.price@lacity.org, 213-473-7009, councilmember.blumenfield@lacity.org, 213-473-7003, david.ryu@lacity.org, 213-473-7004, CC on all emails: City Clerk, Clerk.CPS@lacity.org and Eric.Villanueva@lacity.org. Thank you!

Update #46 months ago
We are trying to plan a demonstration in front of the zoo soon! If you would like to be involved please contact kcluster4756@roadrunner.com. and karenleis@gmail.com.
Our goal is to have Billy retired to an elephant sanctuary to the 'The Kerulos All Bull Sanctuary' in Oregon here; http://kerulos.org/our-projects/elephant-liberation/abes/ for donations.
There was a continued hearing in March -- We are awaiting the court decision or it may still be continuing.
Update #2about a year ago
I have teamed up with 'Elephant Guardians of Los Angeles', a lobbying group with impressive ongoing efforts to free Billy to a sanctuary. We presented our petitions to the Zoo Commission on Tuesday, July 26, 2016 but they declined to join with us to have the elephants under their custody moved to sanctuaries despite evidence that elephants in zoos is not good for these animals' well-being. Our next step is to approach the Mayor and City Council of Los Angeles with our concerns and petitions.
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