By Elizabeth Willoughby on
Actress-comedienne Lily Tomlin and television personality Bob Barker are campaigning to put a stop to the new elephant exhibit under construction at the Los Angeles Zoo, now in its third phase of construction.
They are also trying to “Save Billy,” the bull elephant who has resided at the zoo for 20 years. Barker has offered $100 thousand dollars to move Billy to a wildlife sanctuary in Northern California.
“How many elephants have to die at the Los Angeles Zoo before the zoo comes to terms with the fact that it is impossible to have elephants in a zoo and remain healthy and happy?” says Barker. “Other zoos – the enlightened, progressive zoos – have already discontinued their elephant exhibits. Sixteen elephants have died in the Los Angeles Zoo. About half of them died before they reached the age of 20. In the wild elephants live 65 or 70 years. In zoos the average lifespan, I have read, is 34 years. But at the Los Angeles Zoo, some elephants are dying before they reach 20 years of age.”
“They not only die early in zoos,” added Tomlin, “The word ‘zoo’ is sort of elephant speak for Guantanamo. They are suffering and being tortured daily just by virtue of their confinement.”
Successful in a campaign to move another LA Zoo elephant, Ruby, to sanctuary, Tomlin was also active in the campaign to have Jenny, a Dallas Zoo elephant for 22 years, moved to a Tennessee sanctuary.
“Elephants are so highly intelligent and so social and they make such deep bonds with other elephants,” says Tomlin. “[In zoos] they suffer; cruelly they suffer.”
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