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Billy the Elephant Lost His Bid For Freedom in L.A.

By Sandy Sand     Jan 29, 2009 in Politics
The battle over Billy, the sole surviving elephant in the Los Angeles Zoo, topped in its elephantine tracks by city council vote to keep Billy in a new zoo exhibit and not send him to a sanctuary.
In what is called a final decision by the City Council, Billy lost his chance for relative freedom and the company of other elephants by a vote of 11 to 4.
In spite of super supporters like Cher, Bob Barker, Lily Tomlin, Robert Culp, Tippi Hedren and irate citizens, because the last 14 elephants in the zoo’s care have died, Billy will not be transferred to a sanctuary in Northern California.
Not even Barker’s offer to foot the cost of $1.5 million to move Billy to an elephant sanctuary swayed the council.
Amidst demonstrations by protesters on both sides of the issue, the council which has been dithering over this for months, continued the either/or debate between spending another $28 million to complete $42 million, 3.6 acre elephant park, versus paying back the city treasury $6 million for violating the city's general fund obligations.
Not even one councilman protested that the council could do both: Send Billy to the sanctuary and finish building the habitat for smaller animals that don’t require the huge space needed by elephants to roam had any effect on the recalcitrant members to free Billy.
This is most likely the council’s final word on the situation.
The councilman who proposed shutting down the exhibit said that although he was reluctant to accept the results of the vote, he was not sure whether he could take additional action to halt the project.
He was successful in halting construction last month by calling for further study on the issue. He said it was a sad day for Los Angeles, but he was glad they were able to force information out of the zoo regarding the cost of caring and feeding Billy, but he didn’t know what else they could do.
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