LA Zoo Votes to Support Elephant Enclosure

LOS ANGELES -- The Los Angeles Zoo Commission on Tuesday voted to support the partially-completed Pachyderm Forest, which the Los Angeles City Council has stopped work on until at least the end of January.

The show of support for the project came about two weeks after the council voted 13-2 to halt construction on the $42 million exhibit, while the city explores alternative funding sources.

"Our forest will provide one of the largest and safest elephant habitats in the country, one that will be enjoyed for years to come by the schoolchildren and working families of Los Angeles," said Connie Morgan, president of the Greater Los Angeles Zoo Association.

The Arts, Parks, Health and Aging Committee will look at the fiscal implications of a commitment made by GLAZA to pay the interest on one set of funds used to build the exhibit. That commitment would cost $1.2 million a year for 20 years, and relieve the city of the obligation to pay back those funds.

The committee is scheduled to complete its work by Jan. 24.

A study released last week in Science magazine found the life span of female elephants in zoos is less than half of those pachyderms who live in protected populations in Africa and Asia.

The report also found that Asian elephant calves born in zoos are likely to die young. Researchers have recommended an end to the acquisition of more wild elephants as well as a limit to the transfer of elephants already in zoos.

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