Friday, January 9, 2009

L.A. Times Poll: Should Billy the Elephant Remain at the L.A. Zoo?

The Los Angeles Times is conducting a poll asking readers if Billy the elephant should remain at the Los Angeles Zoo. He has been in captivity for 20 years.

Animal rights organization In Defense of Animals (IDA) has been working to get Billy moved to an elephant sanctuary.

Conservationist and animal husbandry expert Daphne Sheldrick, chairperson of David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust in Kenya, has spent 50 years working with elephants, and in a recent editorial in the L.A. Times, she writes, "It has been scientifically established that elephants are 'human' in terms of emotion."

Along with humans, apes and dolphins, elephants have a very large and complicated neocortex, something which scientists say gives them a complex intelligence.

"The worst punishment we inflict on human wrongdoers is solitary confinement and life imprisonment," Sheldrick says. "Is it right to inflict this punishment on an innocent animal that mirrors humans in terms of emotion, longevity and age progression -- and moreover has a memory that far surpasses our own?"

After all, Aristotle once said that elephants were "the beast which passeth all others in wit and mind."

  • Vote "NO" in the L.A. Times poll for Billy
  • Support IDA's campaign to free Billy
photo: Glenn Koenig/Los Angeles Times

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