In his concluding remarks in his evaluation of the L.A. Zoo’s “Elephants of Asia” exhibit, Judge John L. Segal wrote: “The evidence at trial shows that the three elephants at the Los Angeles Zoo are emotionally and socially deprived.” After consulting experts, he acknowledged that the elephants are “stressed, frustrated, unanimated, and unhappy, and that the zoo is not meeting [their] needs.” He called the zoo employees “delusional,” acknowledged their history of abuse, caught them telling lies, and questioned whether they will even follow his court orders to discontinue the use of bull hooks. Full articles on the ruling here and here.
BUT. After his scathing review, Segal stopped short of shutting down the exhibit, as called for in the suit, because the situation was “not cruel beyond the ‘ordinary’ circumstance of captivity,” he said.
WTF? Infuriating doesn’t come close to properly describing this failure. What would have to happen—that has not already happened—in order to be considered “abnormally” cruel? (Versus “normally” cruel, of course.) Is this lashing fake? Is it just a slap on the wrist to placate the public so business can continue as usual? Would it shock you? Judge Segal has been under fire for alleged corruption and deprivation of rights in his courtroom before.
By the way, this abusive, useless exhibit, funded by L.A. city council, cost tax-payers $42 million (excuse my language) fucking dollars. Meanwhile, the L.A. Unified School District has a $400 million budget deficit for the 2012-13 year, which caused massive recent layoffs and will result in classrooms with roughly 44 students per teacher next year. The elephant money alone could have provided salaries for over 900 teachers who would have been educating about 30 kids per class, 5 classes per day. I know funding is complicated and I’m no economics wizard, but this seems one of a million ways the money could have been better invested.
This is not the end of the story. Plaintiff Aaron Leider, who initiated the lawsuit on behalf of taxpayers (thank you!), and attorney David Casselman, who has worked pro bono on this case for five years (bless his soul!), both hope that Segal’s orders for the exercising of the elephants, the roto-tilling of the soil, and the discontinuation of bull hooks—however superficial it may turn out to be—will cause the public to heed the zoo’s lies and failures and in turn put pressure on city council to ultimately shut down the exhibit.
SO HERE’S WHAT TO DO:
•If you live in L.A., In Defense of Animals makes it easy. Use this form.
•If you’re outside of L.A., you can use IDA’s text in the form above and email it to our mayor and every city council member, addresses below:
firstname.lastname@example.org or (213) 978-0600 or (213) 978-0721
And if you’re really feeling ballsy, here’s Judge John L. Segal’s phone number.