Lawsuit to stop elephant exhibit is dismissed
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There’s nothing like an elephant... in a zoo... to get many Angelenos riled up. Should the elephants stay or should they go? And what about that $40-million new elephant habitat under construction? Today, City News Service reports that a lawsuit filed to close the Los Angeles Zoo’s current elephant exhibit and stop the construction of a new one was dismissed.
In the suit filed last Aug. 2 against the city and zoo director John Lewis, actor Robert Culp and real estate agent Aaron Leider maintained zoo authorities have withheld medical care, kept the animals over the years confined in a small area, and used bull hooks and electric shock to control them. They also maintained the larger exhibit would be a waste of taxpayer money. Los Angeles Superior Court Judge John Shepard Wiley said the issues should be resolved in the political arena rather than in the courtroom. “America is all about democracy,” Wiley said in granting the city’s motion to dismiss the case before trial. “Sometimes we like its results, and sometimes we abhor the results.” While calling the arguments in the lawsuit compelling -- including opinions submitted from experts as far away as Australia -- Wiley said the grievances should be brought to the attention of the politicians who made the decisions to have an elephant exhibit and expand the one already there. The Los Angeles Zoo’s elephant exhibit is currently home to a 21-year-old Asian elephant named Billy. The $40-million exhibit under construction, set to open in 2009 and be called Pachyderm Forest, is designed hold up to five adult Asian elephants and three of their offspring.