Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Elephants at the LA Zoo

Okay, I admit I’m not an expert.

But neither is the judge who decided the lawsuit against the Los Angeles Zoo and its elephant exhibit last week.

Yes, that judge heard the evidence presented and made a decision--one that didn’t close the zoo exhibit down but was still critical.  It told the zoo keepers to keep the elephants exercised and the ground they walk on tilled, both of which I understand are already done.  Also, they’re ordered not to do things like prod with electric shocks or bull hooks--which they weren’t doing in the first place.  So why criticize?

The current zoo exhibit is new and large, and it was intended to take the elephants’ needs into consideration--maybe even more than the patrons’ wishes, since they can’t always observe the animals.  I found it impressive.

Would it be better to have elephants, and other wild animals, roaming wild and free and unharmed in their original habitats?  Well, sure, if those original habitats were still in the conditions they were before people interfered.  But that’s not reality.  And, yes, there are elephant sanctuaries, including here in the U.S.  But they can’t take in all elephants, nor would that necessarily be best for the animals.

Zoos at least teach people what wild animals look like and encourage their preservation, particularly those whose species are endangered.  Today’s zoos are most often also involved with how best to provide homes for those animals in the best realistically possible environments, considering that they do have to have some kind of enclosure for their own, and for observers’, safety.

I spoke recently with a representative of the L.A. Zoo who is also a friend.  She described how sad the legal opinion left the people who work so hard to try to take the best possible care of those elephants.  The criticisms in it seemed excessive and untrue.

But that opinion now exists.  So, still, does the elephant exhibit.  Neither is perfect, perhaps, but at least the zoo can continue taking care of the elephants, and I find that worthwhile.  And appropriate.  I plan to visit them again soon.


Janie Emaus said...

I love the zoo and go there quite often. And I agree with you completely.

Linda O. Johnston said...

It's such a fun place, Janie. We've had a membership since our kids were young, and they're adults now.

Mollie Bryan said...

Zoos have come a long way.

Linda O. Johnston said...

That's for sure, Mollie. Now there are mostly habitats instead of cages.

Monica Ferris said...

I'm glad to hear things were not as awful for the elephants in the LA Zoo as the judge's decision made it seem. I love zoos, the modern ones anyway, that attempt to give the animals some approximation of their home environment.

Linda O. Johnston said...

It's sad that the judge's opinion seemed to be publicized even more than the zoo's response, Monica. I love most current zoos, too. They are fun and instructive to visit.

Betty Hechtman said...

As long as the animals have enough room and their area resembles their natural habitat, I'm okay with zoos.