Animal Legal Defense Fund Files Brief In Legal Appeal Against L.A. Zoo’s Controversial Elephant Exhibit

Posted on February 2, 2015

Trial Court Agrees Exhibit Causes Suffering; ALDF Asks Court of Appeal to Send Elephants to Sanctuary

For immediate release:

Contact:
Megan Backus, ALDF
Lisa Franzetta, ALDF

LA-zoo-elephant-cc-rennett-stowe-250pxLOS ANGELES — The national nonprofit Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF) filed a “friend of the court” brief in support of a lawsuit that seeks to end the years-long suffering of three elephants at the Los Angeles Zoo and the use of taxpayer resources to support the Zoo’s abusive elephant exhibit. Elephants Billy, Tina, and Jewel are held captive at the Los Angeles Zoo’s controversial “Elephants of Asia” exhibit, which has received intense public scrutiny. Although the City Council’s response has been to use more taxpayer resources (to the tune of $42 million) to expand the exhibit, animal advocates have called for the closure of the inherently problematic exhibit—a solution promoted by celebrities like Bob Barker, Lily Tomlin, Cher, and Kevin Nealon. ALDF’s amicus curiae brief was filed in the California Court of Appeal, Second Appellate District, in support of plaintiff Aaron Leider’s appeal.

In its July 2012 decision, a trial court concluded that “all is not well at the Elephants of Asia exhibit at the Los Angeles Zoo.” That court found that the elephants experience pronounced isolation, boredom, and frustration in a barren environment, and, as a result, exhibit severe stereotypic behaviors of stress and psychological disturbance, such as bobbing and swaying for hours on end. The elephants also suffer from chronic foot and joint problems from standing for years on concrete-hard, compacted dirt, with little to no opportunity for exercise on a soft surface. As the trial court noted, “captivity is a terrible existence for any intelligent, self-aware species, which the undisputed evidence shows elephants are.”

And yet, the trial court failed to apply the language of animal cruelty statutes to these facts and thereby failed to provide these animals with adequate relief. ALDF’s brief calls on the Court of Appeal to apply proper legal standards to the lower court’s findings about Billy, Tina, and Jewel’s suffering. ALDF argues that the limited interpretation of the animal cruelty statute will decrease protections for all animals and improperly raise the bar for proving animal cruelty in California. In addition, ALDF’s brief opposes the City’s attempt to prevent concerned taxpayers from filing lawsuits on behalf of suffering animals. In the lawsuit, the plaintiff is asking that the abusive elephant exhibit be closed. ALDF hopes the animals will be sent to a reputable sanctuary, where they can live their lives in peace and comfort.

“The courts have agreed that these elephants are suffering immensely to entertain visitors to the Los Angeles Zoo,” said Stephen Wells, executive director for the Animal Legal Defense Fund. “The government-sponsored, taxpayer-funded animal cruelty inflicted on Billy, Tina, and Jewel is illegal, and we expect the appellate court will honor these facts.”

Copies of the brief are available by request.


69 thoughts on “Animal Legal Defense Fund Files Brief In Legal Appeal Against L.A. Zoo’s Controversial Elephant Exhibit

  1. Kathy Montero says:

    Please free these elephants.

  2. anna ransome says:

    Inhumane, archaic treatment of wild animals.

  3. Ann Maes says:

    “If animals ever formed organized religion, the devil would be depicted in human form.” Bishop William Inge – 18th century
    Stop animal abuse for entertainment and profit!

  4. SINS AGAINST NATURE!

  5. stephanie wilber says:

    BARBARIC !

  6. Mary Issavi says:

    please recognize that holding elephants captive in a confined and artificial space is barbaric, inhumane, and does nothing other then to teach children that it’s okay to exploit and abuse sentient beings for human entertainment.

  7. Nancy Bosch says:

    Let them go and let them be happy where they belong.

  8. Kathleen Boyd says:

    Please let these animals have some happiness be fore they die.

  9. kim marr says:

    As a Zoo you have a duty to help animals this is the humane thing to do

  10. Sherrie Marcinov says:

    I quit going to the Los Angeles Zoo because of this and other things I’ve noticed. PLEASE send these elephants to a sanctuary where they may live out their lives in peace and comfort.

  11. Our gentle giants deserve respect

  12. Maggie Riley says:

    I refuse and have for years, to visit the Los Angeles zoo for this reason. Let the elephants go. I have been boycotting the zoo since Ruby and Gita. Look what happened to Gita! Billy is still there, so sad. Just stop it already.

  13. Martha Hahn says:

    Elephants are not meant to be captive in such limited confined areas. Please allow them to go to a reputable elephant Sanctuary.

  14. These gentle giants deserves our utmost respect

  15. Melodye Buskin says:

    We don’t imprison our pets so why do this to a wild animal? Its all about money. Release them to a sanctuary where they can be happy

  16. Mary says:

    This is not a inhabitable environment for these elephants. Please hear their cries of stress and release these majestic creatures to a humane environment/sanctuary! Before they die of broken hearts or hurt someone!

  17. Stacey peters says:

    animals should not be in zoos

  18. Acerina says:

    what a shame!!!!FREE THEM!!!

  19. Wendy says:

    Zoos are outdated and should be completely re- thought and re-designed for the animals NOT the people.

  20. ursula bateman says:

    PLEASE, DO THE RIGHT THING, RELEASE!

  21. Kimberly Ban says:

    LET THOSE ELEPHANTS GO.

  22. Janet Bradford says:

    Animals should not be captive and used for entertainment!!!

  23. Misha Sashayvich says:

    We have the power to be benevolent, loving stewards for these creatures. Let us rise to the highest good and take the best possible care of these souls. Let’s move them to the best environment available to them now, which is not at the zoo. Thank you.

  24. Lyn room says:

    free these animals and key them finally l e a happy and safe life. It’s the right thing to do.

  25. Gabriella says:

    Release these distressed elephants.Set an example!

  26. Debbie Bontrager says:

    PLEASE, send the elephants to a reputable sanctuary. They are suffering!

  27. Marjorie Bergstrom says:

    The display of captive wild animals, including elephants, is a antiquated practice. We know know elephants are highly intelligent animals that form family groups and emotional attachment to those family members. They suffer, greatly in confinement which prevents so many of their normal instinctual outlets. It is cruel and without justification to deprive elephants of the freedom and peace they require to live naturally. Today , many people have the ability to see Elephants on media, not as dull creatures in a display or circus. Please end the injustice and cruelty of their captivity.

  28. corinne le guillou says:

    Release éléphants to sanctuary, pleeaase !

  29. Christy Schakel says:

    This is heartbreaking state of affairs for these elephants, and a sad commentary on our “civilized” society. When will we learn? Inflicting harm upon animals for entertainment is morally indefensible. Wildlife belongs in the wild. These are living, breathing, feeling beings that suffer as a result of our poor stewardship. We need to stop torturing these and all other wild animals we have forced into captivity and start exercising better judgment and ethics where all living things are concerned. There is no compassion or logic in the merciless exploitation of animals until their extinction. We can do better than this, and we must. Release these elephants to a more appropriate environment immediately.

  30. Chamindri Samarakoon says:

    This is cruel and completely unnecessary. Animals were not evolved/put on earth for human entertainment.

  31. Cindy Christians says:

    Please have a heart and allow this beautiful animal to have a happy life. Elephants are not meant to be in captivity, Please let him go, it is the right thing to do!

  32. angie says:

    Please release these wild elephants to a sanctuary where they belong!

  33. Andy P says:

    It is cruel and unusual punishment to deprive animals of their freedom and hold them in deplorable conditions. Please do the right thing and immediately send these elephants to a reputable elephant sanctuary where they will enjoy freedom and the companionship of fellow elephants, as nature intended. Thank You…

  34. Lisa says:

    they should all run free

  35. chris lewis says:

    please show compassion and let this poor elephant go live with his own kind in safety freedom and happiness

  36. jean says:

    Please show some humanity to these gentle, intelligent animals, that are G-d’s creatures, and should be treated with respect and dignity. They are not objects to be gawked at or put on display.

  37. please let them retire with dignity as you would wish the same for yourself

  38. Letizia k says:

    “elephants are like us, only better”. (dame Daphne sheldrick). Dr. Iain douglas-hamilton, foremost authority on elephants: “I love them because of their altruism”. Indeed, elephants are emotional, sentient beings that live their families, their freedom, their space. They feel pain, sorrow, happiness, they grieve for their dead. They understand past, present and future. They are like us and they deserve a better life than confinement in s zoo. Please send them to a sanctuary.

  39. Sherie haines says:

    please release these prisoners to a safe sanctuary…this is so cruel.

  40. Kerry Person says:

    This is just so sad these animals deserve to be free, please end the suffering for them and let them go to a peaceful sanctuary where they belong.

  41. Christine Mosso says:

    Please release these wonderful elephants. They are so intelligent and sensitive, so this environment is torture for them. Release them to a place where they will be safe and happy. Elephants are one of Nature’s great treasures-we must cherish them!

  42. Eva-Lotta Sanneling says:

    please set them free!

  43. Anna Carrillo says:

    there is absoultly no reason to keep any animal especially a elephant in prison for your enjoyment and pleasure. Elephants need to be at sanctuaries with other elephants. Do the right thing LA Zoo and send this animal free…..

  44. Christine Aintabi says:

    These animals should be freed. They are innocent animals suffering for no good reason. They don’t deserve not to be able to exercise and enjoy their lives. Instead, we hold th em in small enclosures all for human entertainment and money. How can we call ourselves human and good people. This is the kind of stuff that makes me lose hope for humanity!

  45. Caren singer says:

    Get him out of prison. He is an innocent. We have no right!

  46. E.Cole says:

    You know the right, humane thing to do, so do it. Shame on the trial court for not labeling this “animal cruelty”, and shame on the LA Zoo for knowing better. Do the right thing. Please.

  47. Jocelyn Koopmann says:

    Don’t let the Elephan be a prisoner in a BIG cage. Compared to FREE roaming that’s what it is. Would you like to be in a small room for the rest of your life? This is what is happening to this poor Elephant.

  48. Anthony says:

    Elephants are clearly sentient beings. It’s morally and ethically wrong to have them in captivity. Period.

  49. Ali Ece says:

    These animals are not in this planet for humans’ entertainment and profit. Please find some compassion and release them from this prisoner life. How would you feel if you were imprisoned against your wishes, for others’ entertainment and profit?

  50. Ali Ece says:

    Please release them. This is slavery. Please end it.

  51. Nancy Koch says:

    Not only are these poor creatures being treated inhumanly in the LA zoo but all over the world….reference to Thailand and the trauma these beautiful creatures go through for tourist pleasure!!!! STOP the insanity…

  52. Lorene Tompros says:

    these animals are not ours to exploit. Let them live in peace at a sanctuary.

  53. Terry V. says:

    $42 MILLION dollars of tax-payers’ money spent with the end result being animal cruelty? WAKE UP, California! Is this what you want? ”

    In its July 2012 decision, a trial court concluded that “all is not well at the Elephants of Asia exhibit at the Los Angeles Zoo.” That court found that the elephants experience pronounced isolation, boredom, and frustration in a barren environment, and, as a result, exhibit severe stereotypic behaviors of stress and psychological disturbance, such as bobbing and swaying for hours on end. The elephants also suffer from chronic foot and joint problems from standing for years on concrete-hard, compacted dirt, with little to no opportunity for exercise on a soft surface. As the trial court noted, “captivity is a terrible existence for any intelligent, self-aware species, which the undisputed evidence shows elephants are.”

    Despicable, reprehensible & inhumane! Boycott LA Zoos!

  54. karen presson says:

    These and all zoo elephants need a sanctuary. Exercise is the key health issue. Put yourself in their place. Now you understand !!! If you don’t then obviously it’s the greed that’s in the way. Greed doesn’t have to kill !!

  55. maria de lourdes clement says:

    Save animals !!! if not no one deserves to live and being called human.

  56. CATH HARDING says:

    Please open your heart to compassion and let these creatures live in a place where they can be together and free….

  57. Marissa says:

    This is just sick. Elephants have feelings! There is no excuse for animal abuse and these beautiful creatures need rescue. Be a better human and help them!

  58. sharon chang says:

    mercy for the animals,let man sink or swim!

  59. adrienne says:

    Free the elephants

  60. Nancy Shofner says:

    If you need to look at captive creatures, go to the local prison. It should be against the law to confine wild creatures to sad conditions like these. DO NOT GO TO ZOOS!!

  61. Betsy Seeton says:

    I’d like a copy of the brief. I’d also like links to more information on this. I have a paid staff of young writers/researchers ages 7 -18 from around the world writing on animal and nature related issues. I’d like one of them to cover this story. Thanks.

  62. Barbara Klein says:

    Disturbing to say the least! Please keep me posted.

  63. Barbara Klein says:

    This is extremely sad and disturbing.

  64. Gabriela says:

    Please free these beautiful creatures. Animals have a soul, and feel emotion, just as we humans do. They need to be in a place where they are treated as such, and cared for properly. Please, please free them. This inhumane and barbaric treatment of animals needs to stop!! Please save them! :(

  65. Leah Wilkerson says:

    It’s about quality of life. For us, for them. There is no difference. Free them.

  66. Kimmy says:

    Wrong place to let your voice be heard, go here , let it be known to others and speak out against this cruelty.

  67. Sherie haines says:

    Free the elephants….. It’s cruel.
    England , Great Britain.

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