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Billy the Elephant Will Never Forget — and Neither Should We

Columnist Kevin Modesti in the Daily News offers an amusing look today
at the issue that has paralyzed the City Council for so long:


One recent afternoon at the Los Angeles Zoo’s

Thumbnail image for billy3.jpg

elephant exhibit, a grayish creature with wrinkles around the eyes
stared over the wood-and-rope fence. He was slow afoot, kind of
lumbering. He seemed, in some ways, ill-suited to the modern world. He
faced an uncertain future. And, my, what big ears he had.

But enough about me.

This is supposed to be about Billy the elephant…

People care about elephants such as Billy because
we see a lot of ourselves in them, particularly at a time when both man
and beast are struggling to keep up, humans in a rapidly evolving
workplace and animals on a fast- changing globe”

Exactly. The way the City Council has given poor Billy the
Elephant — and the hundreds of people on both sides of the issue –
the runaround for months is typical of how the nation’s highest paid city officials treat everybody.

A little song, a little dance, a little seltzer in your face. But who’s laughing?

Tom LaBonge, fresh from his triumph over those who wanted to really protect Griffith Park from the ravages of development, now has moved a step closer to winning approval of finishing the elephant exhibit at the LA Zoo. The council is finally set to actually make a decision today.

His City Council’s Arts and Parks Committee on Tuesday recommended completing the $42 million Pachyderm Forest — now halted after a third of the money was spent.

And he’s armed with a new report from the Chief Legislative Analyst to defeat Tony Cardenas’ plan to create a sanctuary out in the wilds of the Valley while turning the elephant exhibit into a home for
rhinoceroses and hippopotamuses who apparently don’t need room to roam despite their mammoth size.

The CLA, sharing some of the responsibility for the city running up a $400 million deficit despite a 33 percent revenue increase, has become quite conscious of how the public’s money is being spent.

Here’s the findings on the financial impact of changing course (billy-cla.pdf):.

If the Pachyderm Forest Exhibit is completed and the GLAZA offer is accepted, the project’s impact
to the General Fund of $24 million over 20 years would be completely mitigated.
If the Pachyderm Forest Exhibit is cancelled, the General Fund would need to repay $5 million in voter approved funding to the County of Los Angeles within 60 days.
If the Pachyderm Forest Exhibit is replaced with another project, the project’s impact to the General
Fund would be about $26 million in debt service over 20 years.

So if time and money are important, the council will not foreclose on Billy’s home.

It wouldn’t be so bad if this was just an isolated example of City Hall’s failings. But it isn’t.  The council has a way of leaving just about everyone feeling frustrated and wondering why everything takes so long and gets so complicated — everyone that is except those who throw  a lot of money at the animals in the City Hall zoo. 

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7 Responses to Billy the Elephant Will Never Forget — and Neither Should We

  1. Anonymous says:

    From Modesti’s opening, I assumed he meant that as human beings, we would hate to be “installed”
    in a place completely alien to me as they are planning and arguing about right now. Billy has feelings, too! I am for Billy.
    I have noticed that people really love to have their own way as long as THEIR rights are observed.

  2. Anonymous says:

    I think that article shows what a propagandist, deceptive, pathetic newspaper the Daily News has become. That article doesn’t belong in the “Local News” section. It belongs in the “Opinion” section. This demonstrates just how low the LA City Elites and the Daily News stoop.
    Look up ANTHROPOMORPHISM. Are we to embrace the image of zoo “handlers” (BTW, the technical term is “keepers”) frolicking around the water with the elephant, laughing together, as is described in the article? That’s exactly what this “news” article is meant to have you believe.
    What a bunch of crock. They don’t tell you what really goes on within those zoos. Although granted, the animals have it much easier than they would rather than living in the wild, the animals deserve to live in a herd. We don’t need to pay for that kind of acreage inside Griffith Park. And yes, the excessive expense should truly be an issue, $42 million.

  3. Kristin Sabo says:

    Looks like Billy stays in the Zoo.
    Hmmm…..
    About the hearing, I have to say that the insistence on absolute statements from vets and animal experts was ridiculous to the point of laughable. I’ve been a registered vet tech and currently rescue and rehabilitate horses whose behavior scares other professionals. (I get the violent ones and have pretty good success with them). Gotta say, there are rarely absolutes when talking about animal health and behavior.

  4. White Elephant For Taxpayers says:

    No wonder the City of Los Angeles is in economic trouble, and facing a huge financial deficit! City officials are moving forward with spending $42 million on a new home for elephants, while taxpayers are being hit with layoffs, and are struggling to keep their homes.
    Just today in LA, tragically, a family of 7 died at the hand of a suicidal father who lost his job and his hope of keeping his home.
    If the City of Los Angeles has money to waste on building unsuitable shelters for elephants, what is it doing for its taxpaying residents? Billy would be better off at the PAWS sanctuary where he would have ample room to exercise, and the City could have shaved millions off of the deficit.
    Taxpayers (just like elephants) have very good memories, especially at the polls.

  5. Kristin Sabo says:

    Correction, White Elephant, that’s HOMICIDAL father.
    If anyone believes the SOB’s suicide note (saying it was his wifes’ idea), I’ve got a some great land for development in South Florida to sell ya. Or how ’bout a little bridge near San Fran? Both a bargain.

  6. michaelsean says:

    If you are interested in the story of Billy (or other captive elephants for that matter), I highly recommend reading Hannah’s Dream by Diane Hammond. It is a fictitious story with very similar facts to the Billy debacle. Google it. Well worth the read if you are interested in this story.

  7. My close friend referenced the blog to me. That is precisely the matter I was browsing for.

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