Actor Robert Culp and real estate agent Aaron Leider filed a lawsuit Thursday as taxpayers against John Lewis, the director of the Los Angeles Zoo, and the city of Los Angeles to stop construction of a $40-million elephant exhibit and bar the zoo from keeping elephants on the grounds.
"We want them to close the existing exhibits, acquire no more elephants and spend the money more wisely," said attorney David Casselman, who is handling the case pro bono.
"We have said we're going to build this habitat," said Jason Jacobs, director of public relations and marketing for the zoo, which is a city department. "We're committed to having elephants."
The City Council approved the construction project last year, and Jacobs said the exhibit is scheduled to open in November 2009. The zoo has only one elephant, a bull named Billy. Animal welfare activists have long argued that elephants in zoos don't have enough space or soft ground.