Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Judge: L.A. Zoo elephant exhibit can stay open if changes are made.....Jesus!!!!!

LOS ANGELES - The elephant exhibit at the Los Angeles Zoo can remain open, but zookeepers must give its three resident pachyderms two hours of daily exercise and refrain from using bull hooks and electrical shock to control them, a judge has ruled.  "YOU FOLKS CAN KEEP YOUR HORSES, BUT YOU MUST EXERCISE THEM FOR TWO HOURS DAILY, AND YOU MUST REFRAIN FROM USING HALTERS, LEAD ROPES OR ANY OTHER PHYSICAL MEANS OF CONTROLLING THEM!!!!  HAVE FUN, AND ENJOY YOUR FRUITLESS DAY."
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge John Segal issued a 53-page decision Monday in a longrunning lawsuit that pitted the zoo against real estate agent and animal rights advocate Aaron Leider.
Leider was seeking a court order shutting down the Elephants of Asia exhibit. Segal stopped short of that but was sharply critical of conditions at the multimillion-dollar exhibit, which opened in 2010 and replaced the old elephant showcase.
"All is not well at the Elephants of Asia exhibit at the Los Angeles Zoo," he wrote. "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 found that the ground the elephants walk on is "hard (rather than) varied and soft, and that the substrate of the exhibit creates a risk of injury to the elephants' joints, feet and nails." He directed that the soil be "turned or rototilled regularly."  "I IMAGINE THE JUDGE HAS A LONG HISTORY AND KNOWLEDGE OF CROP ROTATION AND LAND MANAGEMENT, GIVEN HIS YEARS AS A FARMER AND RANCHER."
The judge heard closing arguments in a six-day, non-jury trial on June 25, then took the case under submission.  Leider's attorney, David Casselman, said that despite the zoo's claims that Elephants of  Asia is six acres in size, most of that space is devoted to the public and only about a third is left for the pachyderms.

"This decision clearly recognizes the remarkable failings of the Los Angeles elephant exhibit," Casselman said. "We would hope that the mayor and the city council would welcome this infusion of objective fact-finding and take this opportunity to reconsider their decision to continue the longstanding suffering of elephants at the zoo."
Zoo spokesman Jason Jacobs said officials are pleased the judge did not close the exhibit. He also said the elephant management practices banned by Segal were prohibited before he issued his order.
The ruling "supports current practices," Jacobs said. "The L.A. Zoo does not use bull hooks and has no plan to utilize them in the daily management of our elephants."
However, Jacobs said zoo officials disagree with the court's criticisms of the elephant care program.
"As the people who provide the day-to-day care for these animals, we are competent in what we do and dedicated to the well-being of our elephants," he said.
Leider and the late actor Robert Culp filed the lawsuit in August 2007. Culp, known for starring opposite Bill Cosby in "I Spy," died in March 2010. 

Deputy City Attorney John Carvalho argued that the elephant exhibit was a model for other zoos to follow. But Casselman said Los Angeles Zoo elephants die at an earlier age that in zoos elsewhere in North America; that keepers there have poor record-keeping practices; and that the facility does not have enough qualified veterinarians.
He said the exhibit's lone male elephant, Billy, a 27-year-old born in Malaysia, is in a heightened state of sexual arousal -- known as "musth" -- for much of the year, but cannot follow his instincts to travel long distances in search of mates and has had limited contact with other pachyderms since being brought to the zoo many years ago.
In his ruling, Segal cited the testimony of plaintiff's witness Joyce Poole, who he called one of the world's leading experts on elephant behavior. Poole testified that she observed Billy and his fellow exhibit residents, Tina and Jewel, during two visits.

"She believes that Billy's behavior of head-bobbing and rocking is strong evidence that Billy is stressed, frustrated, bored, unanimated and unhappy and that the zoo is not meeting his needs," Segal wrote.
Poole also said Tina and Jewel exhibit the same head-bobbing and rocking and that she had not seen as much of it among other elephants in nearly 40 years of studying the animals.
In response to Poole's comments, the city offered the testimony of the Los Angeles Zoo's senior elephant keeper, Victoria Guarnett. But Segal said Guarnett's "training, education and experience with elephants ... pale in comparison with Dr. Poole's. She has no experience with elephants in the wild or with elephants in any zoo or other facility than the Los Angeles Zoo."  "WHAT'S DR. POOLE'S EXPERIENCE WITH CAPTIVE ELEPHANTS, EXCLUDING A SANCTUARY?  WHAT DOES WILD HORSES ON THE PLAINS, HAVE TO DO WITH HORSES IN A STALL AND STABLE?"

He also wrote that Guarnett had "somewhat shocking gaps in her knowledge of elephants and, for someone with the title of senior elephant keeper, had some surprising misconceptions" -- including the false belief that head-bobbing is a sign of happiness like a dog wagging its tail.
Tina and Jewel, estimated to be between 37 and 44 years old, are on loan from the San Diego Zoo and arrived after the exhibit was expanded. Casselman alleged they and Billy are all under-exercised and suffer from predictable health problems.
Carvalho denied the allegations and said the three receive "dedicated, loving and well-managed case." He said the two females once lived in an abusive environment in Texas that is in stark contrast to their environment today. 

The city's attorney also said alternative sites that Leider suggested for housing the elephants outside the zoo all had shortcomings. He also denied that Billy suffers from isolation at the Los Angeles Zoo.
In May 2008, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge John Shepard Wiley dismissed the case, but in September 2009, a three-judge panel of the 2nd District Court of Appeal ordered it sent back for trial.
In 2010, Wiley denied Leider's request for an injunction to prevent the opening of the elephant exhibit expansion. Segal was given the case after Wiley was reassigned to another courthouse.
Fourteen elephants have died at the zoo since the 1966 exhibit opened, Casselman said.
One Los Angeles Zoo elephant, Tara, died in December 2004 of arthritis, and another, Gita, died in June 2006 of systemic infections due to arthritis, just after the City Council was assured that she was in good health. 

"I think the first thing is to check into this judge's history.  This stinks of political motivation, like nothing I have seen.   $42 million dollars for a facility and it isn't good enough?????  I don't think he want's it to even exist.  You show business folks think you get picked on?  While we are at it someone need's to look into judge candy ass from Florida who decreed no more riding Killer Whales."


Meaghan Edwards said...

I wonder if these people would be opposed for me using a chain and nylon martingale for my old Shiba Inu dog. Because of course, that must be related to her circling behavior. It'd be much better for her to slip out of a normal dog collar. *rolls eyes*

Wade G. Burck said...

Thus far, an elephant is the only animal that has handling/control restrictions placed on it. Activists and field research "experts" fully understand that without a hook, there is no way to control or handle an elephant. That's why they have gone to such extremes to portray it as an "evil instrument." Just a small step in the elimination of elephant training and handling. They chip away a piece at a time.

Buckles Woodcock stated it eloquently:

Buckles said...

Christ, a multi-million dollar decision made on the strength of "Billy's" head bobbing.
The country deserves bankruptcy!