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Judge Rules For Elephants Against L.A. Zoo

billy-elephant-1-072512"All is not well at the Elephants of Asia exhibit at the Los Angeles Zoo," wrote Judge John L. Segal in his judgment against the Los Angeles Zoo yesterday.

"Contrary to what the zoo's representatives may have told the Los Angeles City Council in order to get construction of the $42 million exhibit approved and funded, the elephants are not healthy, happy, and thriving."

It is a stunning indictment against a zoo that had built a $42-million new enclosure for the three elephants on display there, most of which was to enhance the viewing experience of visitors, rather than the lives of Billy, Tina and Jewel, its three inhabitants. The judge continued:

... The Elephants of Asia exhibit at the Los Angeles Zoo is not a happy place for elephants, nor is it for members of the public who go to the zoo and recognize that the elephants are neither thriving, happy, nor content. Captivity is a terrible existence for any intelligent, self-aware species, which the undisputed evidence shows elephants are. To believe otherwise, as some high-ranking zoo employees appear to believe, is delusional. And the quality of life that Billy, Tina, and Jewel endure in their captivity is particularly poor.

The judge poured more scorn on zoo officials, including on the L.A. Zoo's chief veterinarian, Dr. Curtis Eng. One of the main concerns for elephants in zoos anywhere is that their feet suffer from standing around on the hard ground, compared with their life in the wild, which involves walking many miles on soft soil and grass. The judge wrote:

Shockingly, [Dr. Eng] also  testified that the keepers have told him that they regularly rototill the soil in the exhibit, when in fact the opposite is true: It is undisputed that the elephant keepers in the Los Angeles Zoo do not rototill the surface of the exhibit, and never have. Not once. It is this kind of testimony, again offered by defendants, that makes one wonder whether the keepers and medical staff are working in the same zoo.

Temptation and frustration

Judge Segal was also dismayed by the fact that the zoo had built some natural-looking surrounds to mimic the environment of elephants in the wild, but that if the elephants at the zoo attempt to go near these trees and grasses, they get an electric shock.

[This] makes life for the elephants in the Los Angeles Zoo even worse. It is undisputed that elephants by nature are attracted to and have evolved to need and use trees, bushes, and grass. Mr. Andrews (again, one of defendants' witnesses) testified that that it would be healthy for the elephants if they could knock down trees and rub against them, and that it would be a "nice component to a good enrichment program" if the zoo could get some trees, and let the elephants knock them down.

It is one thing to place electric fencing between elephants and something they are not interested in. ... It is another thing to place such electric hot-wiring between the elephants and something they like, need, and use as part of their natural behavior. Thus, rather than providing the elephants with trees to rub against and knock down as part of "an enriched environment that stimulates and elicits species-specific behavior", the Los Angeles Zoo's elephant management system tempts the elephants with trees that elephants naturally use to rub against and knock down, but frustrates the elephants by keeping those trees in visual and sensory range but beyond access behind electrically-charged wires.

The judge called the evidence of Dr. Joyce Poole, one of the leading experts on elephant behavior, "the most credible testimony." Dr. Poole talked about how the elephants stand around, bobbing their heads:

Dr. Poole testified that the stereotypic behavior exhibited by the elephants in the Los Angeles Zoo is nothing like she has ever seen in wild elephants. In her almost 20 years of observing and studying elephants, she has never seen an elephant bob its head or rock back and forth in place as or as much as Billy, Tina, and Jewel do. She believes that Billy's stereotypic behavior of head-bobbing and rocking is strong evidence that Billy is stressed, frustrated, bored, unanimated, and unhappy, and that the zoo is not meeting his needs. She testified unequivocally that the stereotypic behavior exhibited by the three elephants in the Los Angeles Zoo is not an expression of excitement upon seeing a zoo keeper or at the prospect of being fed, as some zoo employees claim. She testified that this behavior is never seen in wild elephants as an expression of excitement or happiness.

billy-elephant-2-072512... In response to the testimony of Dr. Poole, defendants submitted the testimony of Victoria Guarnett, who has been an elephant keeper as the Los Angeles Zoo for 14 years, and has served as the Senior Elephant Keeper at the Los Angeles Zoo since July 3, 2011.  ... Ms. Guarnett had somewhat shocking gaps in her knowledge of elephants, and, for someone with the title Senior Elephant Keeper, had some surprising misconceptions. For example, Ms. Guarnett believes that the head-bobbing behavior of Billy and Jewel is a sign of happiness and comfort, like a dog wagging his tail. There is no evidence in the record to support such a conclusion.

... Since Billy moved into the new exhibit in November 2010, his head-bobbing increased, then decreased, and now has increased to 45% of his time. Thus, Billy is essentially head-bobbing and swaying and rocking in place nearly half of his observable life. ... No wonder, as Mr. Lewis admitted, zoo employees hear zoo patrons ask what is so wrong with the zoo's elephants.

The judge was equally scathing when Guarnett tried to explain how Billy was trained to stand on his back legs to entertain visitors.

She testified that making Billy stand up on his back two legs is not a trick or performance for the audience (although she does refer to the area where public visitors can hear her as a "stage"), but an exercise to develop his muscles in the event (for which there is no plan to have occur) that he has the opportunity to mate with a female elephant.

Frankly, this is absurd, and the court discredits this testimony. Moreover, Ms. Guarnett claims that she does not know how Billy was trained to lie down, as the keepers have him do for visitors to the Elephants of Asia exhibit. The court discredits this testimony as well. It is inconceivable that the Senior Elephant Keeper of the Los Angeles Zoo has no knowledge of the kinds of things that elephant trainers had to do to Billy and other elephants to train them to lie down on command, such using a block and tackle to pull the elephant's legs and poking the elephant's admittedly sensitive skin with a pole and nail, as shown in Exhibit 47.

For someone who claims to love the elephants, it is shocking that she would command or at least assist them in performing an activity that the elephants were taught to do in this way. The court also discredits Ms. Guarnett's similarly remarkable testimony that the keepers never command Billy to stand on his back two legs or lie down, they merely "ask" him to do so.

Summing it all up, the judge concluded that "captivity is a terrible existence for any intelligent, self-aware species, which the undisputed evidence shows elephants are. To believe otherwise, as some high-ranking zoo employees appear to believe, is delusional. And the quality of life that Billy, Tina, and Jewel endure in their captivity is particularly poor." "Captivity is a terrible existence for any intelligent, self-aware species. To believe otherwise, as some high-ranking zoo employees appear to believe, is delusional"

Judge Segal put several remedies in place, banning the use of equipment like bull hooks and electric wires. The zoo will be required to soften the ground with a rototiller where the elephants stand and walk, and to ensure that they have at least two hours of exercise every day.

He stopped short, however, of telling the zoo to give up the elephants altogether so that they could be sent to a sanctuary. The question here revolved around what constitutes "abuse" in the legal definition of the term. Judge Segal noted that the elephants are considered "property", and examined other cases of nonhuman animals being confiscated from their owners. He said that although "the plaintiff has met his burden of proof that the Elephants of Asia exhibit of the Los Angeles Zoo is injuring the three elephants who live there, the problem is that, unlike the Penal Code section 596.5 standard for the illegality provision of Code of Civil Procedure section 536a, there is no 'legal standard by which the alleged governmental conduct may be tested' for the injury provision of section 536a."

He cited cases in which a pet owner had failed to provide medical care for a wounded and desperately sick puppy; a cat hoarder was starving the 92 cats in her trailer; a case where animal services staff found a dog hoarder "standing in the midst of a canine charnel house" where some dogs were lying dead; and a case where a man was breeding mice and rats so that he could videotape them being crushed to death under the heel of a woman's show.

The treatment of the elephants, he wrote, did not sink to this level, and he could not therefore order their release from the zoo.

By any standard, however, the judge's decision represents a landmark in how the law views the treatment of captive animals.

A "historic cornerstone"

After reading the decision, Aaron Leider, the real estate broker who brought the suit said: "The elephants lives will be better and for the first time in history a Judge has ordered a zoo to improve its care of their animals. Most significantly are the Factual Findings, these will become the historic cornerstone of our movement to close all elephant exhibits in zoos."

"This is a landmark decision that shows inarguably that there is every good reason to move Billy, Jewel and Tina to a sanctuary where they can live their lives in peace and dignity."Leider originated the suit  three years ago, after a group of prominent Los Angelenos including celebrities Bob Barker, Robert Culp, Lily Tomlin and Cher asked the city council to release Billy. The city voted them down. So Culp, star of the former I-Spy TV series, joined Aaron Leider to file suit in L.A. Superior Court. Two years ago, Culp died, but the suit proceeded.

David Casselman, the attorney representing the elephants, said: “We’re very pleased that the court recognized the substandard and horrific conditions at the Los Angeles Zoo elephant exhibit. The legal questions that remain, regarding how to respond to these problems, will continue. But the public should now be well aware that the decades-long representations of excellent care and superior knowledge are extremely unfounded and the city should take a serious look at closing this exhibit with or without a further court order.”

Dr. Lori Marino, who testified from the point of view of a neuroscientist about the psychology and behavior of elephants, including their large complex brains, said: "It is groundbreaking that Judge Segal has recognized that elephants are self-aware beings with a stake in being happy. There is absolutely no doubt now that elephants are suffering in captivity. This is a landmark decision that shows inarguably that there is every good reason to move Billy, Jewel and Tina to a sanctuary where they can live their lives in peace and dignity. This ruling has finally revealed that 'the emperor has no clothes' and that we will no longer believe or trust the claims of the zoo industry.”

For their part, officials from the Los Angeles Zoo declined to comment. Instead, they issued a prepared statement saying: “We respectfully disagree with the court’s opinion regarding the competency and validity of our elephant program. As the people who provide the day to day care for these animals we are competent in what we do and dedicated to the well-being of our elephants.”

57 comments
YeseniaMoreno1
YeseniaMoreno1

This was two years ago but those poor elephants are still bobbing their heads.

berdman
berdman

Why Not a Sanctuary ? I think this would be a second option if releasing is not possible :-0

berdman
berdman

Why Not a Sanctuary ? I think this would be a second option if releasing is not possible :-0

karenlovesbarns
karenlovesbarns

Such a shame that Judge Segal didn't demand the elephants release to a sanctuary but definitely a step in the right direction.  How those elephants are suffering is beyond comprehension.  NO animals should be held in zoos or circuses.  Let's hope the conditions for these 3 elephants improve immediately and hopefully their lives are a little better.  My true hope is that they are released to a sanctuary sooner rather than later

 

karenlovesbarns
karenlovesbarns

Such a shame that Judge Segal didn't demand the elephants release to a sanctuary but definitely a step in the right direction.  How those elephants are suffering is beyond comprehension.  NO animals should be held in zoos or circuses.  Let's hope the conditions for these 3 elephants improve immediately and hopefully their lives are a little better.  My true hope is that they are released to a sanctuary sooner rather than later  

JessicaPowell
JessicaPowell

This really is such an important milestone,a judge recognizing the sentience, intelligence and capability of suffering in relation to captivity, as well as, the comparison between the behavior of these elephants and their wild cousins. I am so glad. These elephants need to be released to a sanctuary and we need to realize that elephants should not be kept in zoos and circuses, they can never ever cater for their needs and I am sincerely shocked that someone given the title of Senior Elephant Keeper could have so little knowledge of the species and come out with so many ridiculous remarks in reference to their care. My question now is how we alter legislation in the relative way?

JessicaPowell
JessicaPowell

This really is such an important milestone,a judge recognizing the sentience, intelligence and capability of suffering in relation to captivity, as well as, the comparison between the behavior of these elephants and their wild cousins. I am so glad. These elephants need to be released to a sanctuary and we need to realize that elephants should not be kept in zoos and circuses, they can never ever cater for their needs and I am sincerely shocked that someone given the title of Senior Elephant Keeper could have so little knowledge of the species and come out with so many ridiculous remarks in reference to their care. My question now is how we alter legislation in the relative way?

CindyWines
CindyWines

Zoos and the Circus are so torturous for any animals. Elephants are used to roaming hundreds of miles a day and foraging and being with their elephant families. It is slow death when they are alone standing on hard concrete. Physical and mental agony. I don't know how humans can watch an elephant in a small enclosure.  They are sad, especially babies that have been taken away from their families in Africa or trained in the BAD  Ringling Bros. The tigers are equally sad.  They need to be sent to PAWS. It is 88 acres of elephant heaven. Tina and Jewel were taken away from an abusive trainer, Davenport and poor  Queenie is stuck at the hot, hell of a hole zoo in San Antonio with a poor elephant Lucky who is afraid of her. All these elephants need to go to PAWS where they will be happy on the grass, rubbing against trees, swimming in the pond and being with HAPPY elephants. As long as they are in captivity, make it the best it can be until they die.

CindyWines
CindyWines

Zoos and the Circus are so torturous for any animals. Elephants are used to roaming hundreds of miles a day and foraging and being with their elephant families. It is slow death when they are alone standing on hard concrete. Physical and mental agony. I don't know how humans can watch an elephant in a small enclosure.  They are sad, especially babies that have been taken away from their families in Africa or trained in the BAD  Ringling Bros. The tigers are equally sad.  They need to be sent to PAWS. It is 88 acres of elephant heaven. Tina and Jewel were taken away from an abusive trainer, Davenport and poor  Queenie is stuck at the hot, hell of a hole zoo in San Antonio with a poor elephant Lucky who is afraid of her. All these elephants need to go to PAWS where they will be happy on the grass, rubbing against trees, swimming in the pond and being with HAPPY elephants. As long as they are in captivity, make it the best it can be until they die.

DianaJones
DianaJones

The news release from the zoo after the verdict was handed down sounded like a petulant child sticking out his tongue and saying nuh uh. These people are the lowest of the low. Zoos are like being in solitary confinement for life. And they only exist to make money. We have a very sick elephant in a crummy zoo here in Edmonton and they keep refusing to move her, her name is Lucy. She is dying slowly and agonizingly, just like the LA trio. How do these people sleep at night?

DianaJones
DianaJones

The news release from the zoo after the verdict was handed down sounded like a petulant child sticking out his tongue and saying nuh uh. These people are the lowest of the low. Zoos are like being in solitary confinement for life. And they only exist to make money. We have a very sick elephant in a crummy zoo here in Edmonton and they keep refusing to move her, her name is Lucy. She is dying slowly and agonizingly, just like the LA trio. How do these people sleep at night?

cowardlylion
cowardlylion

Way to go Judge L. Segal!!  To the zoo staff you should be ashamed of yourselves!  All Wild Animals should live in the wild not in enclosures.  I will never visit a zoo for as long as I live! To all the celebrities and all the people who helped out "Thank you".

cowardlylion
cowardlylion

Way to go Judge L. Segal!!  To the zoo staff you should be ashamed of yourselves!  All Wild Animals should live in the wild not in enclosures.  I will never visit a zoo for as long as I live! To all the celebrities and all the people who helped out "Thank you".

klovesk9s
klovesk9s

great job judge. now release them. there is another sanctuary that could and will take elephants it is The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee. Awesome place. they have 2700 acres. they take Asia and Africa species. Keep pounding  the way for the Elephants. 

klovesk9s. karen tennesee.

klovesk9s
klovesk9s

great job judge. now release them. there is another sanctuary that could and will take elephants it is The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee. Awesome place. they have 2700 acres. they take Asia and Africa species. Keep pounding  the way for the Elephants.  klovesk9s. karen tennesee.

roxiesapphire
roxiesapphire

I am thrilled this has taken place for these Asian Elephants. However we are a long way from an answer. The world as we know it is rapidly running out if natural habitat for the beautiful giants. If you really want to see a zoo from the inside out read Zoo Story by Thomas French and no this is not spam. I belong to a book club. My heart was broken. There is almost nowhere for all the elephants left to go. Poaching is still alive & thriving.  And the LA Zoo is not the only culprit. Paws would not have room for all of the elephants.  Clearly, in the long range things must be considered and thought through very carefully. First of all no more Elephants taken to Zoos. Tax dollar funded reserves & guarded habitats are the way of the future for these sweethearts.

roxiesapphire
roxiesapphire

I am thrilled this has taken place for these Asian Elephants. However we are a long way from an answer. The world as we know it is rapidly running out if natural habitat for the beautiful giants. If you really want to see a zoo from the inside out read Zoo Story by Thomas French and no this is not spam. I belong to a book club. My heart was broken. There is almost nowhere for all the elephants left to go. Poaching is still alive & thriving.  And the LA Zoo is not the only culprit. Paws would not have room for all of the elephants.  Clearly, in the long range things must be considered and thought through very carefully. First of all no more Elephants taken to Zoos. Tax dollar funded reserves & guarded habitats are the way of the future for these sweethearts.

idrea
idrea

YAAAAAAAAYYYYYYY JUDGE!!!!!!!!!!!

idrea
idrea

YAAAAAAAAYYYYYYY JUDGE!!!!!!!!!!!

elecare101
elecare101

It is amazing that 2 zoos in California have recently spent a combined $100,000,000 on rebuilding their two elephant enclosures.  With that amount of money they can be flowed to Africa or Asia and placed in a 1,000 acre sanctuary and if suitable returned to the wild.  If my charity had a $100M to spend on elephant welfare and conversation instead of struggling for every penny we would make such a difference

elecare101
elecare101

It is amazing that 2 zoos in California have recently spent a combined $100,000,000 on rebuilding their two elephant enclosures.  With that amount of money they can be flowed to Africa or Asia and placed in a 1,000 acre sanctuary and if suitable returned to the wild.  If my charity had a $100M to spend on elephant welfare and conversation instead of struggling for every penny we would make such a difference

elecare101
elecare101

It is amazing that 2 zoos in Califonia have recently spent a combined $100,000,000 on rebuilding thei two elephant enclosures.  With that amount of money they can be flowed to africa or asia and placed in a 1,000 acre sanctuary and if suitable returned to the wild.  If my charity had a $100M to spend on elephant welfare and conversation instead of struggling for every peny we would be be able to make such a differance

CindyWines
CindyWines

Pat Derby at PAWS has been wanting Tina and Jewel every since they were confiscated from their abusive owner Davenport. Poor Queenie is stuck at the hot and equally as boring San Antonio Zoo with Lucky, who is afraid of Queenie.  All 5 elephants deserve to be sent up to PAWS where they can roam 88 acres and be with other truly happy elephants. The $42 Million exhibit was not designed with the elephants in mind and if I was a taxpayer in this area, I'd be pretty MAD. It is ridiculous that they get shocked when they get next to the trees or grass. How stupid is that?? Send them to PAWs where there will be no more rocking and swaying and they will not be forced to stand on their hind legs. These zoo keepers know nothing about elephants!

CindyWines
CindyWines

Pat Derby at PAWS has been wanting Tina and Jewel every since they were confiscated from their abusive owner Davenport. Poor Queenie is stuck at the hot and equally as boring San Antonio Zoo with Lucky, who is afraid of Queenie.  All 5 elephants deserve to be sent up to PAWS where they can roam 88 acres and be with other truly happy elephants. The $42 Million exhibit was not designed with the elephants in mind and if I was a taxpayer in this area, I'd be pretty MAD. It is ridiculous that they get shocked when they get next to the trees or grass. How stupid is that?? Send them to PAWs where there will be no more rocking and swaying and they will not be forced to stand on their hind legs. These zoo keepers know nothing about elephants!

michaelmountain
michaelmountain moderator

 @berdman

 Well, when we say "release", we do actually mean release to a sanctuary. That would most likely be the PAWS sanctuary outside of Sacramento or the Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee. That's what the judge could have ordered - but felt that the abuse did not rise (or rather sink) to the level where the elephants (who are considered legally to be pieces of property) could be essentially confiscated from the zoo and given over to someone else.

michaelmountain
michaelmountain

 @berdman  Well, when we say "release", we do actually mean release to a sanctuary. That would most likely be the PAWS sanctuary outside of Sacramento or the Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee. That's what the judge could have ordered - but felt that the abuse did not rise (or rather sink) to the level where the elephants (who are considered legally to be pieces of property) could be essentially confiscated from the zoo and given over to someone else.

michaelmountain
michaelmountain moderator

 @JessicaPowell

 We don't, in fact, see legislation as being the best approach to this. The judge noted that the elephants at the zoo are "property." And as long as humans continue to be the only sentient beings viewed by the law as "legal persons" rather than pieces of property (slaves also used to be seen as property by the law, and therefore had no rights at all). So part of our work is with the Nonhuman Rights Project (nonhumanrights.org), which is the only organization working toward actual legal rights for members of species other than our own. Legislation can limit what people do to other people's property, but it cannot give any kind of rights to anyone who is not already viewed by the law as a legal person.

michaelmountain
michaelmountain

 @JessicaPowell  We don't, in fact, see legislation as being the best approach to this. The judge noted that the elephants at the zoo are "property." And as long as humans continue to be the only sentient beings viewed by the law as "legal persons" rather than pieces of property (slaves also used to be seen as property by the law, and therefore had no rights at all). So part of our work is with the Nonhuman Rights Project (nonhumanrights.org), which is the only organization working toward actual legal rights for members of species other than our own. Legislation can limit what people do to other people's property, but it cannot give any kind of rights to anyone who is not already viewed by the law as a legal person.

roxiesapphire
roxiesapphire

 @DianaJones Could you please point mo to the news release from the LA Zoo ????? Thanks in advance. Robin

roxiesapphire
roxiesapphire

 @DianaJones Could you please point mo to the news release from the LA Zoo ????? Thanks in advance. Robin

michaelmountain
michaelmountain moderator

 @roxiesapphire

 You are right - there are no simple answers. Elephants in the wild are under great stress and may well be extinct by mid-century. But, as you say, zoos are not the answer to this. They are part of the problem because, apart from anything else, they foster the basic notion that nonhuman animals are commodities that exist for our entertainment, for jewelry and ivory potions, and in any other way for profit. Thanks for the comment.

michaelmountain
michaelmountain

 @roxiesapphire  You are right - there are no simple answers. Elephants in the wild are under great stress and may well be extinct by mid-century. But, as you say, zoos are not the answer to this. They are part of the problem because, apart from anything else, they foster the basic notion that nonhuman animals are commodities that exist for our entertainment, for jewelry and ivory potions, and in any other way for profit. Thanks for the comment.

michaelmountain
michaelmountain moderator

 @elecare101

 Yes indeed. But many people assume that a zoo is a charitable or "educational" institution, which it isn't. It's a business. It's in the business of entertaining visitors. Anything else it does is on the side - and basically to promote itself in order to bring in more visitors. Just like there are canned hunting operations that claim to be saving endangered species. Kill some, breed more, and play both sides.

michaelmountain
michaelmountain

 @elecare101  Yes indeed. But many people assume that a zoo is a charitable or "educational" institution, which it isn't. It's a business. It's in the business of entertaining visitors. Anything else it does is on the side - and basically to promote itself in order to bring in more visitors. Just like there are canned hunting operations that claim to be saving endangered species. Kill some, breed more, and play both sides.

roxiesapphire
roxiesapphire

 @CindyWines Sound so good. But try to remember elephants knock down and eat trees at a tremendous rate. Too many elephants at one place will , in a short time, render the 88 acres unusable. Trees can't grow fast enough to replace what elephant use. There would need to be a type of system.. like many many reserves. Start at one. When they exhaust one move to the next. Meanwhile replant the first.(keeping families together is paramount) Have enough reserves in between so that by the time they arrive back to the first, there are new trees. They would need to be fast growers and this would be very expensive. This is how they roam from place to place. Leaving alone exhausted sites until healed.

No, sticking them in a reverse and thinking that's the end of it wouldn't work either. While better then Zoos, a long term plan would need to be in place.

The most infuriating & heart breaking part of this is the world is simply running out of the room is takes to sustain their roaming needs.

Our best chance are the Asian elephants as they are smaller and adapt to many terrains.

Any thought would be welcome

PS don't forget about the Bay of death in Japan where dolphins are raised & slaughtered until the bay is a sea of blood.

There is a movement to enlighten the Japanese about the high mercury content. The US are working to hand out flyers to the local Japanese to educate them on this. So far it worked so well the bay was closed early last year due to lack of demand of the dolphin meat.

The way they kill is barbaric.

michaelmountain
michaelmountain moderator

 @CindyWines

 That would certainly be the best solution, and it may yet happen. The lawyers will be looking carefully at possible opportunities to appeal that part of the decision.

roxiesapphire
roxiesapphire

 @CindyWines Sound so good. But try to remember elephants knock down and eat trees at a tremendous rate. Too many elephants at one place will , in a short time, render the 88 acres unusable. Trees can't grow fast enough to replace what elephant use. There would need to be a type of system.. like many many reserves. Start at one. When they exhaust one move to the next. Meanwhile replant the first.(keeping families together is paramount) Have enough reserves in between so that by the time they arrive back to the first, there are new trees. They would need to be fast growers and this would be very expensive. This is how they roam from place to place. Leaving alone exhausted sites until healed. No, sticking them in a reverse and thinking that's the end of it wouldn't work either. While better then Zoos, a long term plan would need to be in place. The most infuriating & heart breaking part of this is the world is simply running out of the room is takes to sustain their roaming needs. Our best chance are the Asian elephants as they are smaller and adapt to many terrains. Any thought would be welcome PS don't forget about the Bay of death in Japan where dolphins are raised & slaughtered until the bay is a sea of blood. There is a movement to enlighten the Japanese about the high mercury content. The US are working to hand out flyers to the local Japanese to educate them on this. So far it worked so well the bay was closed early last year due to lack of demand of the dolphin meat. The way they kill is barbaric.

michaelmountain
michaelmountain

 @CindyWines  That would certainly be the best solution, and it may yet happen. The lawyers will be looking carefully at possible opportunities to appeal that part of the decision.

berdman
berdman

 @michaelmountain  @berdman  Thank-You for your clearcut response michaelmountain :-)

JessicaPowell
JessicaPowell

 @michaelmountain Yes I thought that this was the reason as why they couldnt just be released to a sanctuary, it feels like such a technicality though and I understand it would be massive and complex to change this law. Is the reason it cannot be over ridden, for example when circuses have abused animals confiscated or they are persuaded to give them up, because the welfare issues do not sink to a low enough standard? As with examples the judge gave in one of his statements about the rat & mouse breeder and the hoarders...

JessicaPowell
JessicaPowell

 @michaelmountain Yes I thought that this was the reason as why they couldnt just be released to a sanctuary, it feels like such a technicality though and I understand it would be massive and complex to change this law. Is the reason it cannot be over ridden, for example when circuses have abused animals confiscated or they are persuaded to give them up, because the welfare issues do not sink to a low enough standard? As with examples the judge gave in one of his statements about the rat & mouse breeder and the hoarders...

michaelmountain
michaelmountain moderator

 @roxiesapphire

 Yes, indeed. One of the ways elephants contribute to their environment in the wild is by clearing old trees. The fact is zoos simply cannot fulfill the responsibility they take on by keeping them captive. The only answer is the end of captivity. That's where we're heading, sooner or later - just as the elephants at the Toronto Zoo will soon be heading to the PAWS sanctuary in Calif.

You're absolutely right, too, about Taiji (the Bay of Death) in Japan. We have a special feature on "Dolphins and Us", which goes into the whole topic of dolphins in captivity. Just search on "Dolphins and Us" (in quotes).   Thanks for your comment.

michaelmountain
michaelmountain

 @roxiesapphire  Yes, indeed. One of the ways elephants contribute to their environment in the wild is by clearing old trees. The fact is zoos simply cannot fulfill the responsibility they take on by keeping them captive. The only answer is the end of captivity. That's where we're heading, sooner or later - just as the elephants at the Toronto Zoo will soon be heading to the PAWS sanctuary in Calif. You're absolutely right, too, about Taiji (the Bay of Death) in Japan. We have a special feature on "Dolphins and Us", which goes into the whole topic of dolphins in captivity. Just search on "Dolphins and Us" (in quotes).   Thanks for your comment.

JessicaPowell
JessicaPowell

 @michaelmountain Yes I see. Thank you for the info Michael I will be taking a look at the nonhumanrights.org and hope that this will be the beginning in a long line of triumphs for animal welfare!

michaelmountain
michaelmountain moderator

 @JessicaPowell

 It's partly that. Animal welfare laws are hopelessly weak. Too many special interests. Once you start "interfering" with people's "property", things get very difficult. That's why the Nonhuman Rights Project is so so important. It's not about legislation; it's how people worked to start freeing the slaves - not by trying to pass new laws but by demonstrating to a judge that an African American slave was a self-aware being who had to be recognized as being a "legal person." Once you accept that, then you have to accept that this "person" has certain fundamental rights, and then it becomes a question of establishing what rights. (In the case of an elephant, it wouldn't include the right to vote, which is a human right, but it would certainly include the right not to be locked up without a very good reason.) In the case of the slaves, once the first one (James Somersett) had been recognized as a person in a High Court in England, this set in motion a series of other trials all up and down the U.S.. It became quite contentious, and led to a civil war ....... But that's what it took.

JessicaPowell
JessicaPowell

 @michaelmountain Yes I see. Thank you for the info Michael I will be taking a look at the nonhumanrights.org and hope that this will be the beginning in a long line of triumphs for animal welfare!

michaelmountain
michaelmountain

 @JessicaPowell  It's partly that. Animal welfare laws are hopelessly weak. Too many special interests. Once you start "interfering" with people's "property", things get very difficult. That's why the Nonhuman Rights Project is so so important. It's not about legislation; it's how people worked to start freeing the slaves - not by trying to pass new laws but by demonstrating to a judge that an African American slave was a self-aware being who had to be recognized as being a "legal person." Once you accept that, then you have to accept that this "person" has certain fundamental rights, and then it becomes a question of establishing what rights. (In the case of an elephant, it wouldn't include the right to vote, which is a human right, but it would certainly include the right not to be locked up without a very good reason.) In the case of the slaves, once the first one (James Somersett) had been recognized as a person in a High Court in England, this set in motion a series of other trials all up and down the U.S.. It became quite contentious, and led to a civil war ....... But that's what it took.

Trackbacks

  1. […] for example, a team of attorneys went to court in Los Angeles last year, seeking to have three elephants, Billy, Tina and Jewel, released on the […]

  2. […] zoos are also under pressure. Last year, the Los Angeles Zoo found itself in court receiving withering criticism from a federal […]

  3. […] tells how, earlier this year, Judge John L. Segal poured scorn on the attempts of the Los Angeles Zoo to defend their treatment of three elephants. And he writes […]

  4. […] tells how, earlier this year, Judge John L. Segal poured scorn on the attempts of the Los Angeles Zoo to defend their treatment of three elephants. And he writes […]

  5. […] It was a stunning indictment of the Los Angeles Zoo when Judge John L. Segal said the L.A. Zoo is “not a happy place for elephants” and ordered sweeping improvements.  […]

  6. […] ‘… It’s becoming clearer and clearer that zoos, including aquariums, are not good homes for animals. SeaWorld has all sorts of problems, and now we’ve just learned that the Los Angeles Zoo also isn’t all it claims to be. As Michael Mountain reports in his essay in Earth in Transition, Los Angeles judge John A. Segal concluded “All is not well at the Elephants of Asia exhibit at the Los Angeles Zoo.” […]