Demonstrators call on LA Zoo to free Billy the elephant, hold rally ahead of World Elephant Day

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Demonstrators held a rally at the Los Angeles Zoo on the eve of World Elephant Day Sunday.

Elephant Guardians of Los Angeles held a "Free Billy" rally in front of the zoo, calling for a ban on the international elephant trade and urging the zoo to release "Billy the Elephant" to a sanctuary.

Members say Billy has been at the zoo for too long. They're concerned about what captivity is doing to the elephant's physical and mental health.

"After 30 years, it's been long enough. It's time to let him go," said Kiersten Cluster of Elephant Guardians of Los Angeles. "It's time to let him go to a sanctuary where he will have more space. He'll be able to engage in natural elephant behaviors. He will be out of the city, he will be out of the noise and the pollution and away from the stress of being on constant public display."

The zoo released a statement saying it has no plans to send Billy to a sanctuary.

"We remain committed to an excellent elephant management program and to the conservation of these highly endangered animals," a statement from the zoo said in part.

World Elephant Day is on Aug. 12. and aims to bring attention to the plight of elephants.
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