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Wednesday, April 12, 2006

The Elephant in the Room

Up until now, I didn't give a lot of thought to plans to spend $40 million to build a new elephant exhibit at the LA Zoo. I figured if the elephants needed more room, an updated habitat would be good for them and would probably draw more visitors to the zoo.

And it seems as if the City Council is going in that direction.

However, candidate for County Supervisor David Hernandez has some comments on the matter over at Mayor Sam 2, that get you thinking. The cost to build the new facility, as well as ongoing costs to care for the elephants are quite high. When all is said and done, the new site will offer the elephants a habitat that is only half what most experts recommend.

As well, given that the zoo's current elephant herd is of different species, the habitat is not a one size fits all solution for the entire brood.

When you add it all up, in this old, dead, Republican mayor's point of view, the best plan is to scrub the elephant exhibit, send the animals to a preserve where they will be more comfortable. The current site for the exhibit could be a virtual one where visitors could view the herd in their new home via webcams and have interactive multimedia experiences that could teach all about elephants, in ways the pachyderms themselves could never dream of. I am officially going on the record as being against the new elephant exhibit.

I urge you to tell the City Council the same thing.

11 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said:

40 MILLION dollars?? Did I read that right? Are your facts correct?

40 MILLION Dollars??? That is pure insanity.

April 12, 2006 2:05 AM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

Not only is it insanity, it's stupid politics.

At the same time that Antonio's dirty little secret - that he wants to charge a trash hauling fee in order to pay for cops that the LAPD can't recruit fast enough even to fill classes at the Police Academy - is emerging to the chagrin of taxpayers everywhere, now he comes along with his tacit support for something that beggars the imagination.

According to CAO Bill Fujioka, this exhibit involves at least $12 million in General Fund monies. That's about 120 cops, folks! And it doesn't even include what paying for "upkeep" of the animals every year, which will inevitably rise as they age and become infirm due to the poor conditions they're kept in.

So here we go proposing to spend that on elephants when philanthropists and rich animal activists are ready to put up the money to move them to a sanctuary.

Why would Antonio do this? It would have been easy to keep his campaign promise to go the sanctuary route. Most of the people arguing for keeping elephants are either GLAZA stooges or Zoo employees. If they want elephants so much, THEY should put up the $40 million.

But that still wouldn't make this exhibit right.

The Council still has time to come to its senses, but given its history, that's probably too much to ask!

April 12, 2006 6:29 AM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

I'd like to see my tax money go towards making a great zoo. You can't go to a zoo and not see an elephant. The zoo needs to be redone. All of it! Go ahead and spend the 40+ million. The zoo right now is a shame... I'd like to have something to look forward to.

April 12, 2006 7:29 AM  

Blogger Archie Bunker said:

How about we move the Elephants to their natural habitat?

What a concept!

That way we save money on not having to pay for this new sanctuary and we will work with the Animal Activists so they don't look like terrorists.

A win-win situation for all.

I'd rather see that $40 Million go towards burying power lines and hiring and equipping more police officers.

April 12, 2006 8:41 AM  

Blogger Mayor Sam said:

Great - if you want a bigger, better zoo, sell it to Sea World or Disney and lets have the city focus on things they are supposed to be like cops, firefighters, streets and schools.

April 12, 2006 8:44 AM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

A Disneyland Zoo! You're a Genious! It will now cost $100 bucks to see an elephant take a crap right in front of you.

April 12, 2006 8:46 AM  

Blogger Archie Bunker said:

I wouldn't kill the zoo all together, but keep animals that are natural to this habitat. That will at least keep costs down and have something exotic for residents and tourists to see.

April 12, 2006 10:36 AM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

The sad fact is elephant's natural habitats are rapidly disappearing in both Africa and Asia and what is left is becoming overcrowded. Overpopulation of elephants in natural areas sends the elephants into adjacent farm lands where they are killed or rounded up by the government. I've seen the damage that too many elephants cause in Africa and it's not good for the elephants or the land. Recently Conde Nast Traveler published an article about elephant overpopulation and it painted a grim picture for elephants in some of the parks.

Sending zoo elephants to a "sanctuary" sounds great in theory but the fact is they don't provide the same level of 24 hour care that zoos can nor are they subject to the same scrutiny as zoos are.

The contention that elephants need more space to roam is based on what elephants in the wild have to have to survive. Elephants in zoos are well cared for and are exercised regularly. I know for a fact that the elephants at the Los Angeles Zoo receive excellent husbandry and I neither work for the zoo or am affiliated with GLAZA.

The animal activists' real agenda is to close down zoos. The so-called experts who are advocating for sending the LA Zoo elephants to a sanctuary are either disgruntled former zoo employees or misguided people who make their living from their personal 501(c)3 organizations.

Zoos provide excellent educational opportunities for children and adults and remind us that we live in a big world with places that need our help. Zoos in this counry contribute to conservation world wide and provide a conduit for environmental awareness.

I do however criticize the fact that this exhibit is costing $40 million to build. How much of that is going to be funneled from one city department to another for project supervision and oversight (i.e., Bureau of Engineering)? This is a classic example of government perpetuating itself and is one reason blogs like this exist.

April 12, 2006 12:25 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

It may not be a bad idea to close down the zoo. Zoos are kind of a 19th century form of entertainment. We can put webcams in the wild. And with all the Discovery, Science, etc. channels on TV, kids can learn more in one hour about animals than they can all day at a zoo eating a bunch of junk food.

April 12, 2006 3:42 PM  

Blogger Charlotte Laws said:

Update on the elephant issue:
On April 19, 2006, the Los Angeles City Council voted 13-2 to build a costly elephant enclosure at the LA zoo. Only Councilmembers Dennis Zine and Bill Rosendahl voted with activists who wanted the exhibit closed and the three elephants freed...

How logical it would have been to save both the elephants and taxpayer dollars by voting against the proposed 3.5-acre elephant exhibit and sending our imprisoned pachyderms to paradise in a spacious sanctuary in Northern California. But City Councils do not always make logical decisions as we painfully discovered.

The second most rational approach would have been to postpone the decision for a few weeks until results had been tallied on Assemblyman Lloyd Levine’s pending legislation which would require California elephant exhibits to have more acreage than the LA plan provides.

Postponement would also have given Neighborhood Councils an opportunity to poll their stakeholders and make a formal recommendation to the city. Many councils have the elephant issue agendized for their May meetings due to a presentation about the topic at the LANC Congress earlier this month.

Unfortunately, haste, waste and misconceptions about the needs of massive animals have prevailed while the voiceless pachyderms and obviously equally voiceless taxpayers have been shoved aside.

Charlotte Laws

April 21, 2006 7:57 AM  

Anonymous sandmadd said:

An article in today's L.A. Times illustrates more reasons why pachyderms don't belong at the L.A. Zoo. We see Gita being forced to walk by the keeper (He sternly tells her "Gita, move up")who backs up his command with a hook (which the zoo says is never used, though Gita must see its presence as a threat). She's seen walking on a hard surface, though she's still suffering from ailments that most likely resulted from years on a hard surface! Where is the soft dirt and loam that the zoo says it now provides? What is wrong with zoo managers if it took years for them to realize that concrete floors aren't a natural habitat for elephants? That only the most placid elephant goes on the walk speaks volumes. The L.A. Zoo continues to show insensitivity to the needs of their elephants. Please send them to a sanctuary where they'll always have soft dirt and enough room to roam-if and when they want.

May 10, 2006 10:34 PM  

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