Dr. Poole, in her letter of support, reflects on the angst experienced by captive elephants and how Billy’s “stereotypic head bobbing … not a behavior observed in the wild … is a coping mechanism for the loneliness, boredom and frustration that characterizes his life in the zoo. His behavior is symptomatic of the enormous frustration that a vigorous, highly social and intelligent creature experiences in confinement.”
Dr. Poole continues: “…There is ample scientific evidence to declare that an urban zoo – the LA Zoo in this case – cannot meet the basic interests of an animal as large, as socially complex and as intelligent as an elephant. They possess long-term memory, self-awareness and the ability to empathize and have very long life spans. Their needs demand that they roam many miles a day in order to stay physically and mentally well….Captivity is, in fact, particularly gruesome for males. Well fed and isolated they become trapped in a heightened sexual state known as musth, which makes their level of frustration, despair and on occasion, rage, even more intolerable.”
Dame Daphne Sheldrick wrote in 2009,
…”It has been scientifically established that elephants are “human” in terms of emotion, something that I can wholeheartedly endorse through 50 years of practical experience. They have the same strong sense of family and of death; they have friendships that span a lifetime, and being gregarious, like humans, they need each other, and the companionship and comfort that friendship generates.”
“Consider this: the worst punishment we inflict on our own human wrong-doers is solitary confinement and life imprisonment. Is it therefore right to inflict this extremely severe punishment on an innocent animal that duplicates us humans in terms of emotion, longevity and age progression and moreover has a memory that far surpasses our own? “. …”No artificial situation, however attractive it may appear to us human onlookers, can possibly afford a captive elephant the space it needs. One hundred miles in a day is just a stroll for an elephant.”
Ultimately even a number of world-renowned* elephant experts could not convince the money grubbers at the L.A. Zoo that compassion for wildlife, especially one the size of an elephant, should overrule any selfish motives for keeping animals, effectively, caged.
Even with all of the support of celebrities, elephant advocates & elephant activists joining in the effort to “Free Billy” the final results are the same, …we lose (the first lawsuit, initiated in 2007) by one vote.”
Despite Judge John L. Segal’s ruling in 2012, concluding that the elephants’ existence was “empty, purposeless, boring and occasionally painful,” and characterizing, at one point, L.A. Zoo officials as “delusional“ in their efforts to portray their elephants### as happy in their restrictive and captive situation, the judge could find no evidence of elephant abuse (bullhooks / electric prods were banned in earlier rulings) under California law.
###by then they had added two female elephants to their Asian elephant exhibit, Tina and Jewel, albeit in a separate area away from Billy, their only bull elephant. By 2017 another female Asian elephant, Shaunzi, joined the girls.
Even City Councilman Paul Koretz, who has championed Billy the elephant’s cause for some time now, was slapped down in 2018 when he asked for an unbiased (“experts not closely associated with any zoo“) assessment of the pachyderm’s “health and well-being”.
So here our Billy the elephant has remained, in a menial existence, in that “not happy place for elephants,” the L.A. Zoo.
It is time to #FreeBilly.
Help us facilitate this beautiful elephant’s release to an elephant sanctuary.
For Billy, not having lived as an elephant for 30 years is reprehensible.
Humans, are you listening?
Voices For Billy:
“…After 30 years, Billy deserves to pack his trunks and head off to a great retirement at a sanctuary” said Los Angeles City Councilman Paul Koretz in Dec 2018.
#Free Billy Free Billy NOW! By The Kerulos Center
Multiple videos on Billy the Elephant including #FreeBilly Rallys at the LA Zoo on Elephant Guardians YouTube / Abes TV Channel
KCAL 9: VFTA- Help Billy Billy news story includes Lily Tomlin & Kiersten Cluster of Elephant Guardians
“Free Billy (Where the Elephants Roam)” song by Nicolette Aubourg
Cher, Lily Tomlin Want Billy The Elephant Moved Out Of L.A. Zoo CBS Los Angeles Channel
“Melya Kaplan’s (VFTA) Presentation on Elephants in Captivity” Includes summary of the fate of three other female L.A. Zoo Elephants Ruby, Gita, & Tara. All of these elephants in residence with Billy, although fenced in separate areas.
Elephant Guardians of Los Angeles
L.A. Councilman Paul Koretz website
Why Billy the Elephant Should Be Moved to a Sanctuary (good source of videos as well including Pachyderm Politics: The Battle Over Billy the Elephant)
Elephant Guardians of Los Angeles
Billy the Elephant @ Billytheelephant
Images: CC Flickr: by Theresab: Billy the elephant standing perhaps doing elephant tricks LA Zoo, Billy the elephant lying down close up LA Zoo; by Slices of Light: Billy the elephant profile close up LA Zoo & Billy the elephant in front of pool LA Zoo. by a Malone: Billy the elephant and tire LA Zoo
** RE: the Category AbZOOlutely Not** or The Controversy of Zoos & Others Keeping Elephants in Captivity. While there are some Zoos & others that demonstrate exemplary methods of elephant care, unfortunately, they do not represent the “lion’s share”.