GRIFFITH PARK, LOS ANGELES (KABC) --Animal-rights activists and a city councilman on Tuesday called for a beloved elephant named Billy to be relocated from his current home at the Los Angeles Zoo.
Although the advocates said the Asian elephant does not have enough room to roam at the facility in Griffith Park, zoo officials said they see no reason to send the healthy elephant elsewhere.
"Billy's given free range of these areas, he's given options each day," said John Sisk, the zoo's curator of mammals, as he stood just outside the animal's enclosure. "He has enrichment devices, as you see here, as he's pulling the hay out."
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Activists and L.A. City Councilman Paul Koretz held a separate news conference at the zoo, where Billy has lived for 28 years.
"I don't believe that the zoo can take the necessary care and give what the elephants need," said a woman who spoke alongside the councilman.
The activists want Billy moved to another sanctuary because, they said, his current enclosure is too small and he has been prevented from roaming freely with two other elephants, named Tina and Jewel.
"There is a barrier between them, but they touch, they share food, they talk to each other, they socialize," said John Lewis, the zoo's director. "The barrier's there because the two girls are post-reproductive cows. We don't want to take the risk that they might be bred by Billy because that would be really bad for them."
While some zoos have slowly closed their exhibits, in part because of costs, the L.A. Zoo recently invested $42 million in a state-of-the-art 6-acre facility. The area features interconnected yards, pools and stalls that the mammals can freely move in and out of.
Activists argue that Billy continually bobs his head as a sign of stress at his location, but the zookeepers said he has been doing it since he got there decades ago. Lewis added that Billy bobs his head in anticipation of his keepers when he hears them coming into his enclosure.
But Koretz said it's not good enough, and he wants Billy moved.
"It sent one of its previous elephants, named Ruby, to the PAWS sanctuary and allowed her to live out the rest of her life being a real elephant," Koretz said, referring to a Performing Animal Welfare Society facility. "Billy deserves the same."
Koretz is expected to introduce a measure to the city council on Wednesday as part of the effort to relocate the elephant.