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the skunks of los feliz
The L.A. Zoo's elephant exhibit has once again become the center of controversy. As construction on the new viewing area drags on (and on), the health of Gita, one of the Zoo's elephants, has degraded to what some vets are calling a terminal condition. That's not surprising: Gita and her partner Ruby have been confined to a barn while the new exhibit is being prepared.

Mayor Villaraigosa, who supported closing the exhibit before he opposed it, is attempting to fence-sit on this issue. He should do the humane thing, stop construction (or repurpose it), and send these elephants to a sanctuary where they can live out the remainder of their lives in comfort and dignity.

UPDATED: To sign a petition urging Mayor Villaraigosa to relocate L.A.'s elephants to a sanctuary, click here.

Vidcap from KNBC.
Couple points about your elephant item. Construction isn't dragging on. It's been stopped since before the election, and has remained stopped while the mayor's panel investigates. In addition, the exhibit has been repurposed -- for the elephants; expanded to more than two acres in size.

I'm a bit dismayed by your insinuation that Gita and Ruby (and Asian male elephant Billy) are not presently living in comfort and dignity Having first hand knowledge and interaction with the people who work very hard every day to care for and enrich these magnificent creatures, I know they are both comfortable and treated with the highest level of dignity.

I'm not sure who these "some vets" are that are calling Gita's condition terminal. She had an infected segment of bone in her foot removed and it is healing. Odds are those "some vets" are on the side of the activists urging the elephants removal from the zoo.

And now a word about sanctuaries, which benefit from the fact that they're called "sanctuaries." The activists push sanctuaries' open space as some sort of cure-all. But let's look at Gita, who is 47 years old and has spent her entire life in the care of the Los Angeles Zoo. Put her in a wide open space and guess what's going to happen. She's going to do what she knows and that's stay in the immediate proximity of where the food and shelter is. Not only will those vast tracts of land be little used, but there's also an issue of the quality and level of veterinary care and facilities that will be available to her.

Bottom line for me is I want the elephants to be where they'll best live out their lives in that comfort and dignity you desire. I think it can be at the Zoo and all I'm saying is that both sides have valid issues.
I can't think of anything more cruel that removing Gita from the only home she has ever known, the Los Angeles Zoo. Moving her at this point, regardless of her condition, will only hasten her death. The elephant keepers at the Los Angeles Zoo are devoted to these elephants and the elephants have 24 hour veterinary care available which is not the case at sanctuaries.

Granted, these elephants are not housed in a ideal situation right now and that is the fault of the City of Los Angeles departments who are responsible for the construction projects that have been delayed for over two and a half years. Why hasn't anyone started questioning what the city is doing and why the big vacant lot in the middle of the Los Angeles Zoo getting bigger and bigger! The pachaderm project is being paid for out of voter approved bond monies and the delays have increased the cost which benefits neither the animals or the tax-payers. And speaking of cost overruns, what about the big chunk of money the Bureau of Engineering takes out to "oversee" these projects which has led to nothing but delays and increased costs. Talk about a taxpayer rip off!

Leave the elephants alone and send the bureaucrats to sanctuaries!!!

Let me first say to Will, I respect you, and I respect your first-hand knowledge of the situation. Unfortunately, as someone who doesn't have the same access as you, I must rely on news reports. Sadly, news reports are not always accurate.

Secondly, let me also say that I have NEVER insinuated that zoo officials have given these animals anything less than the best care that they are able to provide. I've been to the zoo on a number of occasions, as my posts on the zoo have borne out, and have always observed the animals to be healthy and well-cared for. What I am saying is that there may be decision makers higher up the chain of command (The Mayor, county officials, etc.) who may not be making the best possible decisions for these animal's well-being.

Thirdly, my call for the elephants to be relocated only comes after what seems to be a bungled series of decisions: move Ruby... no wait, bring Ruby back... start expanding the elephant enclosure... stop expanding the elephant enclosure... Gita is sick... no, she's not sick... It seems to me there's some sort of problem here, some sort of muddled decision making process.

I think we all are coming from the same place here: we understand that elephants are magnificent, intelligent creatures who deserve our respect. I guess our differences lie in what we think would be the best way to show that respect.

Again, I'm not an expert. I care about animals, not in the way that some people who see them as "people in fur coats" do , but I care. If it's best to leave the elephants where they are, then so be it. But I think that this issue is one worth discussing.

BTW, I agree with the second poster's call to cage the bureaucrats. What a wonderful world it would be...
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