Thursday, June 15, 2006

Animal Rights Group Holds Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa Personally Responsible for L.A. Zoo Elephant – Gita’s - Death

A good idea since the mayor was aware of the issues that occur when you keep an animal like an elephant in completely inadequate conditions.

As the article states, “Gita suffered from chronic foot problems and arthritis -- the two leading causes of death in captive elephants.”

Essentially, standing on unnaturally hard, non-native surfaces WILL cause problems what will lead to death.

Article:

Animal Rights Group Holds Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa Personally Responsible for L.A. Zoo Elephant Death

http://biz.yahoo.com/prnews/060613/latu086.html?.v=57

Tuesday June 13, 12:31 pm ET

LOS ANGELES, June 13 /PRNewswire/ -- Gita, the 48 year old Asian elephant at the LA Zoo, died early Saturday morning as a direct result of keeping her in inadequate conditions at the zoo. Gita suffered from chronic foot problems and arthritis -- the two leading causes of death in captive elephants.

Last Chance for Animals (LCA) is holding Mayor Villaraigosa personally responsible for Gita's death. "Gita is dead because the mayor did not have the strength and conviction to make a compassionate and intelligent decision for the elephants and the people of Los Angeles," stated Chris DeRose, President of LCA. The mayor had the opportunity to veto the LA City Council decision last April to expand the existing elephant exhibit (at a cost of over $38.7 million tax payer dollars) and send the elephants to PAWS sanctuary in Northern California. The Mayor did not veto the decision even though during his election campaign and tenure he had been quoted, "A zoo is not an appropriate place for an animal as large as an elephant ... we need to move the elephants out" NBC News 5.13.05 and "My interest is in ensuring our elephants are healthy and safe and I believe they are safer when they are not in zoos" Daily News 3.11.06.

It is evident that the L.A. Zoo cannot provide the space, exercise or social enrichment needed to preserve the remaining two elephants' health and well being. The elephants are kept in woefully inadequate quarters and are forced to stand on hard surfaces such as concrete or hard-packed earth, the same conditions that caused Gita's ailments and subsequent death. As the world's largest land mammal, elephants in the wild typically walk up to 40 miles per day, socialize in groups of at least 12 members and live to over 70 years of age.

In a city with so many complex needs, the funding necessary (at least $38.7 million) to build the proposed expanded elephant exhibit at the Los Angeles Zoo could most certainly find a better use. Given the overwhelming costs associated with holding elephants and the inability to provide adequate living conditions in captivity, zoos across the country have shut down their elephant exhibits. Zoos in large metropolitan areas such as San Francisco, Detroit, Chicago and New York are beginning to understand the needs of elephants are much better met at a sanctuary.

For more information, please visit the fightback4elephants.com or LCAnimal.org or call:

Lisa Beal
Campaigns Department
LCA
Office: 310.271.6096 x27, cell: 818.681.3672

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