Los Angeles Residents by 3-to-1 Majority Want LA Zoo's New Elephant Habitat Completed

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Greater Los Angeles Zoo Association

Not only will it provide Billy with a spacious living area where he will receive exceptional, humane care, but our new habitat will make Los Angeles a global leader in educating our next generation of conservationists on the dangers these magnificent animals face.

Los Angeles city residents by an overwhelming 3-to-1 majority want the Los Angeles Zoo to continue to expand and upgrade its care for Asian elephants by completing the new Pachyderm Forest rather than halting construction, according to results from an independent polling firm, Fairbank, Maslin, Maullin & Associates (FMM&A), released today.

The results, which come on the eve of a Los Angeles City Council vote Wednesday on whether to continue the project, show 67% of Los Angeles residents believe the zoo should enhance elephant care by finishing the habitat. Pachyderm Forest will house Billy and other Asian elephants, whose future on our planet grow more uncertain each year, in a habitat approximately the size of Dodger Stadium. In an editorial Saturday concluding that Pachyderm Forest should be built, the Los Angeles Times wrote: "The L.A. Zoo has gone to great lengths to design a hospitable home for Billy and the other elephants it hopes to acquire."

"Los Angeles residents are excited about the Pachyderm Forest and are making it clear they want this habitat completed," said Connie Morgan, president of the Greater Los Angeles Zoo Association. "Not only will it provide Billy with a spacious living area where he will receive exceptional, humane care, but our new habitat will make Los Angeles a global leader in educating our next generation of conservationists on the dangers these magnificent animals face."

Just 22% of the respondents agreed with the small group of anti-zoo activists who are trying to pressure the council into reversing its 13-2 vote approving the project. After being reminded that LA City voters passed a Zoo Bond Measure, with the expectation that the funds would be used to improve, upgrade and expand animal exhibits to create a more natural, humane and safe environment for all animals, including the elephants, 69% agreed that the City Council should resist a small group of animal activists who seek to overturn the will of LA voters. In addition, registered voters who were surveyed favored completing the Pachyderm Forest by a 4-to-1 margin over those who want to stop construction.

Tellingly, a whopping 93% of Los Angeles residents surveyed said that it was important to them that Billy be cared for at a humane facility that is required to meet the high accreditation standards set by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), which the Los Angeles Zoo is required to do. None of the alternative sites the anti-zoo activists propose for Billy are required to meet these standards of accountability, nor are their activities and veterinary facilities certified or monitored by an equivalent professional organization.

"No one can out-love us when it comes to elephants," said AZA President and CEO Jim Maddy. "The elephant experts are the zookeepers and veterinarians at the Los Angeles Zoo, who eat sleep and breathe high standards for animal care and welfare. These are the real heroes, who work hard every day taking care of Billy and the other animals."

Other findings of the survey include:

  • Seven in 10 Los Angeles residents agreed that closing the habitat and shipping Billy to a distant location will deprive local schoolchildren and their families of the opportunity to learn about the threat of extinction facing Asian elephants today. Another 73% agreed the Los Angeles Zoo should build a new elephant habitat as part of its role in teaching wildlife conservation, breeding additional Asian elephants and helping prevent the extinction of the species.
  • Nearly 7 in 10 Los Angeles residents reacted negatively to the hundreds of job losses that would result from shutting down the project in the middle of a deep economic downturn. Through the life of the project as many as 1,000 construction jobs could be lost if Pachyderm Forest is discontinued.
  • Eight in 10 residents have a favorable impression of the Los Angeles Zoo, with 3 out of 4 reporting they visited the zoo within the last five years. Another 7 in 10 said they believe zoos play an important function and should remain open.
  • Pachyderm Forest enjoys broad support by race, sex, age, income and political affiliation.

The survey was conducted in January by Fairbank, Maslin, Maullin & Associates and involved a representative sample of 500 randomly selected Los Angeles city residents.

"These poll numbers show across-the-board public support for the LA Zoo," said John Fairbank, principal in Fairbank, Maslin, Maullin & Associates. "I've worked for many issues and ballot measures over the years, including numerous measures in the City of Los Angeles, and I can say without a doubt that if the voters were asked to support the completion of the Pachyderm Forest on a ballot initiative, it would win in a landslide."

For information on the Pachyderm Forest, please visit http://www.billyshome.com

Contact:

Laura Stegman
Laura Segal Stegman Public Relations, LLC
310-470-6321 (office)
310-991-2835 (cell)

Steve Feldman
Association of Zoos and Aquariums
301-562-0777 ext. 252 (office)
202-271-0722 (cell)

Source: Greater Los Angeles Zoo Assn., Association of Zoos and Aquariums

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Laura Stegman

Steve Feldman
Association of Zoos and Aquariums
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