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Amid Lawsuit, LA Zoo Elephant Habitat Goes Forward
Friday, October 16, 2009
by Adrian Glick Kudler
But how is LA Zoo construction doing in this recession? Quite well, it turns out, as work continues on the zoo's contentious Pachyderm Forest, which has been in a jeopardy a few times, including last December when the City Council's Budget and Finance Committee voted to stop work on the exhibit. The full City Council turned that decision around a couple months later. Now zoo rep Jason Jacobs tells Curbed the last phase of construction is more than a third done, and the zoo is projecting an opening in November 2010. But there's still a lawsuit pending that charges Los Angeles Zoo with abusing elephants. Last month, a judge ruled that a trial in that case could go forward, the Los Angeles Times reported. For their part, the zoo's website says, "an independent review of our elephant program conducted by the City Administrative Officer in 2005 reported that the care and management of elephants currently provided by the Zoo meets the highest standards."
The new space will be made up of three connected yards on more than six acres (which is more than seven times the size of the current space, says the zoo's website).
Elephants will enjoy "waterfalls for washing and playing, waterholes for bathing, a variety of natural surfaces for walking and standing that will promote foot and joint care, and natural topographic and planted environments." Visitors will enter through one of "five distinct asian-inspired gateways" and learn about the threats to Asian Elephants in Thailand, Cambodia, India, and China. The architect is Portico Group, who also designed the zoo's China Golden Monkey exhibit.
Right now the zoo only has one elephant, 23-year-old Billy (the one activists wanted released), who will be moving into one of the completed parts of the Pachyderm Forest soon. The zoo plans to bring in one more male and three females for breeding (What's with one lady out?). Jacobs says these elephants will be ones already in the U.S.