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Defense of Animals Urges L.A. City Council to Vote and Free Billy the Elephant From the L.A. Zoo

Billy the elephant is kept alone in a 1-acre yard with no trees, grass and little opportunity for companionship. 

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January 30, 2024

On Sunday, Jan. 28, dozens of elephant lovers including lawmakers and lawyers joined In Defense of Animals, Elephant Guardians of Los Angeles and Los Angeles for Animals at a rally to free Billy the elephant from the Los Angeles Zoo, which was named the worst zoo for elephants in 2023 over concerns about the suffering it’s caused him during his 34 years of confinement there. 

As former Los Angeles City Councilor Paul Koretz said about Billy at the rally, “After all the years he’s spent at the Los Angeles Zoo, he deserves to be an elephant near the end of his life.”

Konstantine Anthony, former mayor of Burbank and candidate for Los Angeles County Supervisor, District 5, along with David Casselman, who filed a lawsuit against the Los Angeles Zoo to free Billy, also joined the rally and offered words of support in the campaign to free him to sanctuary. 

“We are grateful for the wonderful show of support from advocates and community leaders to give Billy the life he deserves, free from the confines of an undersized exhibit in a city zoo. Billy has suffered mental and physical harm for decades at the Los Angeles Zoo. It is time to retire him to a sanctuary where he can roam, forage and heal from his zoochotic stress behavior,” said Courtney Scott, Elephant Consultant for In Defense of Animals.

Billy’s latest medical records reveal a history of chronic foot infections, which can lead to fatal foot disease. He also exhibits extreme zoochotic swaying and bobbing stress behavior, a sign that he has developed brain damage.l from his many years of confinement. Billy is kept alone in a 1-acre yard with no trees, grass and little opportunity for companionship. 

A sanctuary has offered to take Billy and give him the life he deserves on acres of lush grass, dotted with trees and ponds. It is time for Billy to be given this chance to live like the wild free bull elephant he was meant to be.

A Los Angeles City Council committee has approved a proposal introduced by Koretz and seconded by Councilmember Bob Blumenfield to free Billy. It now must proceed to the full council for the final hearing. In the meantime, the public is being urged to provide a huge show of support to get Billy to freedom at weekly demonstrations outside the zoo. 

The rally was boisterous, family and animal friendly. Porkchop, the pig, even made an appearance to show his support for Billy. And Nicolette Auburg graced the crowd with her beautiful song about Billy.

2023 marks the eighth time the Los Angeles Zoo has made the list of the 10 Worst Zoos for Elephants, which has been published annually by In Defense of Animals since 2004.

The public can learn more and support Billy’s release at www.idausa.org/freebilly.

  • Lynn Freudenberg says:

    Thank you covering this story. Billy needs to be a high priority. Time is not on his side. The Zoo needs to be accountable and provide an appropriate environment.

    • Amanda says:

      Agreed. Billy AND Tina. There were four, two died, and now two are left and deserve to live out the last years in a sanctuary.

  • Amanda says:

    Thank you for covering this. I found the Zoo’s dismissive response insulting and dishonest. Elephant advocates are not spreading disinformation nor intentionally mischaracterizing the cruel treatment zoo elephants endure.

    “Billy’s latest medical records reveal a history of chronic foot infections, which can lead to fatal foot disease. He also exhibits extreme zoochotic swaying and bobbing stress behavior, a sign that he has developed brain damage… Billy is kept alone in a 1-acre yard with no trees, grass and little opportunity for companionship.”

    So sad and unnecessary… Thank you again.