Room to Roam?

Here is my response to the comments made by “celebrity Zookeeper”, Jack Hannah, in LA Unleashed ( regarding his support for the controversial “Pachyderm Forest” project at the Los Angeles zoo.

“Lame. That’s the only word to describe Mr Hanna’s support for keeping the solitary elephant, Billy, at the LA Zoo.

It was very sad to learn recently that Mr Hanna’s interest in wildife was inspired by Born Free (1966), the film that my parents Bill Travers and Virginia McKenna starred in. My late father would be turning in his grave to think that a film which was all about liberty, justice and ‘letting go’ had so encouraged Mr Hanna that he then seems to have spent most of his life supporting captivity.

I have observed wild elephants in their natural habitat for 25 years. I have helped rescue orphaned elephants, move elephants from places of danger to safety, fought the ivory trade and even had the privilege of successfully returning an elephant to the wild after 20 years in a zoo.

Mr Hanna says Billy will have ‘room to roam’ but, bizarrly, he doesn’t compare the LA Zoo’s proposed Pachyderm exhibit with elephants in the wild (thousands of acres) or even with enclosures in the two Gold Standard Elephant Sanctuaries in the USA (60 acres at PAWS in California and 300 acres at the Tennessee Elephant Sanctuary), he compares the LA Zoo proposition with the San Diego Wild Animal Park’s postage stamp elephant exhibit – circa 3 acres. Lame, Mr Hanna, and shameful.

It’s simply not good enough. Second best will not do. Compassionate US citizens should expect better than that.

And, by the way, if the LA City Council does do the right thing and decides to build an Elephant Sanctuary instead of a ‘bigger zoo box’, then, if they want to really help elephants, they can spend the $30 million they’ll save on protecting thousands of elephants in the wild.

C’mon Jack. Let’s do what’s best for Billy, best for the city of Los Angeles, and best for elephants. That’s REAL conservation.”

IMPORTANT: Please vote in the LA Unleashed poll against keeping elephants in zoos (see the above link)

Find out more at or and see this article about two recent reports which indicate that elephants die younger in zoos.

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