Latest elephant plan not peanuts

first_img The estimated cost: $38.7 million, to be financed through $25 million in pre-approved Proposition A and CC bond funds; $11 million borrowed from the city’s Municipal Improvement Corp.; $1 million from city coffers; and $2 million in private donations. “Sounds expensive,” said Jon Coupal, president of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association. “Notwithstanding the political symbolism, Republicans should not even stand for this. People can drive 100 miles to San Diego Wild Animal Park.” Villaraigosa, who had not read the proposal, reiterated Friday afternoon his general opposition to keeping elephants in zoos. “My interest is in ensuring our elephants are healthy and safe and I believe they are safer when they are not in zoos,” Villaraigosa said. “I need to digest this proposal.” The mayor, who has pledged to eliminate the city’s nearly $300 million budget deficit within five years, said he appreciates that the majority of the elephant proposal comes from bonds and private sources. Critics were quick to denounce the size of an exhibit they say is too small for elephants used to more space in the wild. “It wouldn’t be enough,” said Assemblyman Lloyd Levine, D-Van Nuys, who introduced a bill last month to require zoos to maintain at least five acres for up to three elephants. “Elephants need more space than that.” “Its cruel to the elephants – that exhibit will take four to six years to build,” added Melya Kaplan, executive director for Voice for the Animals, an animal-welfare group. “It is basically fiscally irresponsible for the city to spend this kind of money for a substandard exhibit.” Dana Bartholomew, (818) 713-3730 dana.bartholomew@dailynews.com160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORECasino Insider: Here’s a look at San Manuel’s new high limit rooms, Asian restaurant The Elephants of Surin exhibit, once forecast to cost $19 million for two acres, was put on hold for more than a year while the mayor commissioned a study of the zoo’s elephant quarters. The study, released in December by the City Administrative Office, recommended that the zoo enlarge the elephant quarters from a half-acre to three acres. In a letter sent Friday to the mayor, Los Angeles Zoo General Manager John Lewis outlined plans for an elephant exhibit that would be among the largest of any urban zoo in the nation. The proposed exhibit would create a grassland with water holes, waterfalls and natural surfaces for walking and standing, as well as ultrasound equipment for elephant care. “This exhibit will further solidify the Los Angeles Zoo and Botanical Gardens as one of the city’s leading cultural institutions,” Lewis wrote. Despite a city budget shortfall of $300 million, the Los Angeles Zoo proposed Friday building a 3.5-acre exhibit, at a cost of nearly $40 million, to house its three elephants. While revised plans for a three-acre exhibit drew high praise from City Councilman Tom LaBonge and other city officials, critics called it a pachyderm-size bungle during a severe budget crunch. And animal-welfare activists, who’d won a campaign promise from Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa to close the zoo’s elephant digs, vowed to continue their campaign to have the animals sent to a sanctuary. “This is wonderful for Los Angeles and for children young and old to have the best pachyderm exhibit in the country,” said LaBonge, whose district includes the zoo. “We’re going to come up with the money, because the children of Los Angeles deserve it.” last_img

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