Free Billy The Loneliest Elephant At The Los Angeles Zoo!

On Tuesday, Los Angeles City Councilmember, Paul Kortez, a longtime advocate for animal welfare, announced during a news conference, legislation to move Billy, a lonely, 32-year-old elephant, out of the LA Zoo and into “a more suitable habitat”.

In response, as reported by LAist and a local CBS affiliate, disgruntled Los Angeles Zoo officials invited the media to take a closer look at Billy and the zoo’s much-touted “state-of-the-art” facility that includes deep bathing pools, a waterfall and sandy hills.

Los Angeles Daily News

“Much has been said about the Zoo’s elephant program, including persistent misinformation and inaccuracies as it specifically relates to our male Asian elephant, Billy,” zoo officials said in a statement. “It is important that accurate and factual information about our program be shared so that the public understands why the L.A. Zoo is an excellent home for these elephants”.

But Koretz and animal welfare organizations disagree, claiming that the 6.56-acre elephant habitat is not large enough to house Billy and two female elephants who currently reside there as well. There is a barrier separating Billy from elephants, Tina and Jewel.

Japan Times

“That’s why I will be introducing a measure, on Wednesday, to ‘free’ Billy and change the way elephants are treated at the L.A. Zoo,” Koretz said in a statement. “We cannot and must not treat animals in this manner”.

Billy is a Malaysian male elephant that has sadly been held captive for most of his life.

As a result, Koretz, who also chairs the City Council’s Personnel and Animal Welfare Committee, and animal welfare organization, Voice for the Animals, contend that Billy’s habitat is constrained and that certain behaviors by Billy, such as swaying and bobbing his head, are signs of trouble.

Zoo director John Lewis maintains that the head-bobbing is merely Billy’s “anticipation of his keepers, when he hears them in the barn, when he knows it’s time to get fed”.

Koretz is reportedly seeking to have Billy relocated to either The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee or Forever Wild Sanctuary in Phelan, CA.

The motion also calls for “the creation of an animal welfare oversight committee to advise the Mayor, the City Council, the Zoo and the Board of Zoo Commissioners, on safety and health-related issues concerning zoo animals.

Join VFTA on May 6th, who is holding a “Free Billy” comedy fundraiser that will feature Lily Tomlin, Craig Ferguson and Whitney Cummings among others.

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