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Monday, November 24, 2008

LA Doesn't Need To Build An Elephant Sanctuary

Leave it to politicians to jump on high emotion, high profile issues where they seen an opening to pull a scam.

Council Member Tony Cardenas is on the right track when he says that construction on the LA Zoo's wrongheaded multi-million dollar elephant pen needs to be halted.  He's also correct that the Zoo's last elephant (after killing nearly 15 of them over 30 years), Billy, needs to be moved to a sanctuary where he will have the space to roam and companionship of several other elephants.

However Cardenas and his partner-in-crime Council Member Richard Alarcon are absolutely wrong to pursue the City of Los Angeles going into the animal sanctuary business.

Cardenas and Alarcon seem to think that if we halt the elephant pen at the Zoo, then they get to build an animal sanctuary in their Districts.

When the City is in fiscal crisis, folks are losing their homes and a boatload of City employees are about to be laid off, this is the last thing the City needs to do.  As the Daily Breeze said "Rome is burning here, and this is no time for fiddling about over elephants."

Most everyone who has a heart, except for Councilmember Tom LeBong who thinks he owns the zoo, Zoo officials who want to keep their jobs and a cadre of LA Zoo fanatics who think it's okay to keep majestic animals in cages, agrees that Billy needs to go to a new home.  Numerous elephant preserves exist throughout the US that would be more than happy to take Billy.  Citizens including retired game show host Bob Barker have offered to cover the costs of Billy's move.  Those who want Billy out of the zoo and are not up to speed on how LA politics really work need to resist the siren song of the Northeast Valley Boyz and not support the LA sanctuary.

"Rome is burning here, and this is no time for fiddling about over elephants."
Daily Breeze

Los Angeles is not a proper place for such a preserve as much as we would like to perhaps have one nearby.  Assembly Lloyd Levine, who is in favor of moving Billy to a sanctuary and closing down the Zoo exhibit, does not see the need for an LA based sanctuary.  As he said sure, we'd like to see elephants in LA.  But we might also might like to see glaciers.  But we're not going to haul one down from Alaska and park in the LA Harbor.

As PetraFried in the City so well put it, Alarcon and Cardenas are looking to benefit rich developers in their district and have yet another "legacy" to their administrations.  That's the kind of thinking that moved the Children's Museum from Downtown to Lake View Terrace, miles from most kids in LA, which has become a boondoggle of it's own.

Those who care about both Billy and LA need to advocate to immediately send Billy to an established sanctuary and at the same time shut down both the LA Zoo's elephant exhibit and Cardena's boondoggle preserve.

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Blogger PhilKrakover said:

I am glad to see you weigh in on this issue, Michael, even if you are a little off on your thinking.

1) Billy must go to the PAWS Sactuary in San Andreas. No one can disagree with this, except for John Lewis, the General Manager of the Zoo, who kows about as much about elephants as LeBong, which isn't much at all.

Last week Lewis asserted that Billy nods his head because he wants to be fed; this is utter nonsense and was directly refuted by no less an authority than Joyce Poole, the world's outstanding authority on elephant behavior. Plain and simple, elephants do NOT nod their heads in the sanctuary or in the wild. Nodding is a sign of danger to keepers and visitors because the elephant is basically going crazy in solitary confinement. Elephants, like people, want to be with other elephants; they are a herd species.

2) The current exhibit can be utilized for lots of other large animals that tolerate captivity much better than elephants; rhinoceri, hippopotomi, giraffes could all be there and it could become a virtual Savannah.

3) An elephant sanctuary could be built on the property alluded to by Cardenas and Zorro for a fraction of the cost of the exhibit (recently revised upwards to $42 Million, of which only $10 Million has beeen spent and could be altered to be an adapted re-use for the other species as above. The cost of the land and the fencing, shelter, etc. would not exceed $10 Million, thus the City of LA would save at least $20 Million, maybe more. Considering the cuts to services we all know are coming, this is not inconsequential money.

4) Before any more money is spent, the Mayor should require a strategic plan to be formulated and the costs assessed. It costs over $100,000 a year for an elephant in a zoo, and John Lewis proposes that we have ten (10) elephants and conduct a breeding operation to boot. Do we have a spare $10 Million a year MORE to spend on the zoo now, or in the foreseeable future? I think not.

So, in conclusion, I submit that we agree on a couple of points at least; Billy must go to PAWS in San Andreas immediately and construction on the exhibit must be halted immediately.

Whether we should build a sanctuary near the new Children's Museum and bus kids to both is a question of whether we can afford it at this time.

So, why not buy the land now (cheaper) and wait for better times to address the question of a park or a sanctuary later, without the presence of the present protaganists, LeBong, Cardenas and Zorro?

I welcome yur futher thoughts, Michael and Petra. And, oh yes, Petra, try to keep the conversation civil without the threats. I do have something to say about this and I don't respond well to threats, especially from someone who is not in a position to carry them out. As we say to our kids, "use your words"...

November 24, 2008 4:51 AM  

Blogger Heather said:

Stupid is as Stupid does...THESE morons voted to spend $40 million in this economy for a Elephant exhibit and there is only ONE at LA Zoo. How many millions have already been spent on this exhibit?? This proves what everyone has been saying, that this group is the most ignorant, leaderless, gutless, moronic bunch of bafoons this city has seen in a very long time.

November 24, 2008 6:37 AM  

Blogger Zuma Dogg said:

Phil, go screw yourself you bag of hot, loser air.

Do you really think anyone cares (let alone read) your big , long bag of hot air? What a loser you are to take up all that time typing all that up as if someone asked for you to weigh in.

Go get a life of your own, you loser. Did you REALLY spend all that time typing up your dumb elephant analysis?

By the way, Michael, great post. Good writing.

PHILKrakover=Loser of life-losers, in real life. Go back another losing candidate, you loser.

"I don't respond well to threats, especially from someone who is not in a position to carry them out. As we say to our kids, "use your words"..."

Who cares whether you respond well to threats, or not you coward of a troll.

November 24, 2008 7:48 AM  

Blogger Michael Higby said:

I don't see the need for the City to get into the shelter business. Honestly I think they should sell the Zoo to the National Geographic or someone far more capable of running it and get the city out of business that is not it's core mission of providing public safety, safe streets and a decent living environment.

That point aside if some private organization wants to build a sanctuary, great. Though with all the pollution, fires, etc. LA might not be the best place healthwise for animals - that's another issue for another time.

I believe that there are a number of issues folks want the city to focus on - whether from the left in having the city halt evictions from foreclosures to the right wanting business taxes cut to encourage growth in this down economy. Whatever you feel on either of those two issues I would imagine you would them more worthy of City time than siting an elephant preserve in Sylmar.

November 24, 2008 9:15 AM  

Blogger Michael Higby said:

correction: I said shelter business I meant sanctuary.

November 24, 2008 9:15 AM  

Blogger Petra Fried in the City said:

I agree 100% with MS. This City is out of money just five months into the FY. Today Budget and Finance try once again to cut more City services while in the same breath the Mayor and DWP raise our taxes and fees willy-nilly and ignore the real elephant in the room, the deficit.

If City officials are truly serious about dealing with the budget & deficit, the smart thing is to send Billy to an external sactuary, then spend the remaining part of the $40 mill on necessary Zoo maintenance and upgrades (which the CLA said could be done), while moving the previously budgeted funds for these purposes back to decrease the deficit.

This makes fiscal sense. Having LA go into the wild animal sanctuary business does not. Spending cash on a non-essential new 'shiny object' for Guido and Zorro and their friends is beyond irresponsible, it's absolutely fraudulent.

Don't fool yourself -- bankruptcy is likely just around the corner for this town. The clowncil know this... and Cardenas/Alarcon want to spend money that could cover Zoo maintenance and free up funds for other vital services on a fluff project for their buddies? You must be kidding.

November 24, 2008 9:44 AM  

Blogger Petra Fried in the City said:

Regarding an accusation of threats toward Mr. Krakover:

To what exactly are you referring?

November 24, 2008 9:52 AM  

Blogger Petra Fried in the City said:

Just for the sake of discussion, nodding of the head can mean many things in many different animals even of the same species.

If food is impending, then it might mean 'hurry up and feed me'. But when an animal is alone or unnaturally confined, it is usually a dysfunctional response to this condition. Nodding is akin to habitual or obsessive pacing, weaving, chewing, spinning, biting, lunging, barking, digging, feather-picking, licking, and other not-normal behaviors when confinement, stress, or lack of stimulus exists. It might also mean severe pain in herd animals. It may be aggression or a warning. It could be playful. It could signal illness. It could also be neurological.

As with all living beings, context is everything. Billy's main existence is one of confinement and loneliness.

Waiting for LeBong to start nodding...

November 24, 2008 12:51 PM  

Blogger Donna Barstow said:

Phil, you had a good analysis.

Repetitive behavior in any animal (or person) is bad. No species would survive with aimless motions and waste of energy rampant. And there are only a few species that play, which might combine the two. Anyone up for a game of War of the Worlds?

November 26, 2008 7:09 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

Mr Higby, great points! The City could lease the Zoo area and then collect taxes on the business entity that would probably make more money and better business decisions than the current GM.

Another benefit? Eliminate the GM and staff that the City now has to pay.

Keep up the great work.

November 27, 2008 2:05 AM  

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