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Elephant exhibit opens despite controversy

December 16, 2010 12:00:00 AM PST
The Los Angeles Zoo opened its new elephant exhibit to the public Thursday after years of controversy.Supporters are thrilled, but critics say it's elephant abuse.

The zoo has been tangling with animal advocates for years. Some filed an in junction to halt construction, claiming that doubling the size of the exhibit to six acres was still not enough. David Casselman is their attorney.

Attorneys for a lawsuit to shutdown the $42 million exhibit are preparing to return to court.

"They built it so they look good to people," said David Casselman, the attorney for the exhibit's opponents.

Casselman said the best environment for the elephants would be a sanctuary like the one he is developing in Cambodia.

"These animals roam 10 to 15 miles a day," Casselman said. "They are going to have same problems with arthritis, foot infections."

Zoo officials said the exhibit speaks for itself. They said it is a display to encourage education and conservation.

"If these animals were not here enclosed, I would never have the opportunity of seeing them," said Victor Bandele, who is originally from Nigeria. "I would never have the opportunity of getting really close to them."


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