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Letters: The L.A. zoo's elephants

July 27, 2012

Re "Judge calls for changes at zoo," July 25

As an educator and a docent at the Los Angeles Zoo who spent seven years observing its elephants, I was stunned and saddened by Los Angeles Superior Court Judge John L. Segal's harsh words on the zoo's elephant exhibit.

I know the zoo's elephants, especially Billy, the 27-year-old Asian bull. I also know that the zoo is devoted to the elephants' well-being. And I know that, had the judge accessed the multi-year, ongoing research of the elephants' behavior at the zoo that volunteers like me document, he would have written a different opinion.

Seeing an elephant up close and in person has more impact on would-be conservationists than any textbook or video can. Elephants in zoos serve as ambassadors, raising awareness of their endangered plights, particularly in India — a place that most residents of Los Angeles will never visit.

Kathleen Landis

Burbank

Whenever a story about the zoo's elephants appears in The Times, it brings back a memory.

I had been a zoo member for many years. After I retired, I went to the zoo regularly for my walking exercise. One day I came upon a fully grown elephant in a small outdoor space. There was no shade and no water. The elephant had a chain around one back leg, and he walked as far as he could.

Looking at him broke my heart. I never went back to the zoo, and I let my membership lapse.

The latest news about the new exhibit seems to indicate that the elephants are still suffering.

Eileen Soskin

Los Angeles

I suggest a standing ovation for Segal, who is "harshly critical" of elephant care at the Los Angeles Zoo. Hopefully, the judge's comments will be another step toward closing the zoo's elephant exhibit permanently.

Bob Barker

Los Angeles

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