Despite extensive opposition and the rallying of animal activists and Hollywood celebrities alike, Los Angeles City Council voted today to go ahead with a $42 million elephant exhibit. About $12 million has already been spent towards the completion of the new exhibit, which is now 30 percent done.
Council also decided that the city will continue to keep Billy the elephant confined at the zoo instead of sending him to an animal sanctuary where he would have been afforded more space to roam. The planned six acre exhibit would be seven times larger than Billy’s current enclosure and feature approximately four acres of open space. Opponents argue that this falls far short of an elephant’s space requirements.
Animal activists and others who oppose the new exhibit argue that it would still be far too confining for a pachyderm. Several well known celebrities became involved in the fight to liberate Billy including Bob Barker, longtime animal advocate, who recently donated $1.5 million to help move Billy to an animal sanctuary.
Opponents of the new exhibit had hoped that Billy would be allowed to be moved to a space where he would have adequate space to roam. Roaming space is critical to an elephant’s health and well-being. Today’s developments would seem to indicate that the hopes of Billy’s champions have been dashed.
You can read more about Billy’s plight at the Voice For the Animals Foundation.
Image Credit: exfordy at flickr under a Creative Commons License.
If you are interested in the story of Billy (or other captive elephants for that matter), I highly recommend reading Hannah’s Dream by Diane Hammond. It is a fictitious story with very similar facts to the Billy debacle. Google it. Well worth the read if you are interested in this story.