IDA UNVEILS CONTROVERSIAL BILLBOARD URGING MAYOR VILLARAIGOSA TO RELEASE L.A. ZOO ELEPHANT

MEDIA ADVISORY

Los Angeles, Calif. (November 2, 2009) – Tomorrow, In Defense of Animals will unveil a new billboard at a major intersection in Los Angeles that calls on citizens to urge Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa to free Billy, the only elephant at the L.A. Zoo, and send him to a spacious sanctuary.

WHAT: Official "unveiling" of the "Free Billy" billboard with IDA representatives and elephant advocates
WHEN: Tuesday, November 3rd, 11am
WHERE: Northeast corner of Santa Monica Blvd. and Barrington Ave.

"IDA cares deeply about elephants and we are alarmed that Billy is suffering, alone and forgotten in a tiny display at the Los Angeles Zoo,” said Catherine Doyle, IDA campaign director. “This billboard is a plea to Mayor Villaraigosa to be a man of his word by doing the right thing and sending Billy to a sanctuary."

During his bid for mayor, Villaraigosa made several public statements in which he said elephants do not belong in zoos and fared better in larger preserves.

Billy, a 24-year-old Asian elephant, lives in a tiny yard of less than one-half acre. Elephants in the wild typically walk tens of miles a day. Billy repetitively bobs his head up and down, an abnormal behavior indicative of psychological distress.

The Zoo is currently constructing a $42 million elephant exhibit that still will be inadequate for elephants. The City of Los Angeles estimates that it costs $156,000 annually to hold just Billy at the zoo.

In 2007, Mayor Villaraigosa and the L.A. Zoo sent a female African elephant, Ruby, to the PAWS sanctuary, where she is living on 80 acres of natural habitat with other elephants. PAWS currently holds one male elephant but has facilities to accommodate another.

Contacts:
Catherine Doyle, 323-301-5730
Bill Dyer, 310-301-7730

In Defense of Animals is an international animal protection organization located in San Rafael, Calif. dedicated to protecting animals' rights, welfare, and habitat through education, outreach, and our hands-on rescue facilities in Mumbai, India, Cameroon, Africa, and rural Mississippi. _________________________________________________________________________________

IN DEFENSE OF ANIMALS • 3010 KERNER BLVD. • SAN RAFAEL, CA 94901 • 415-448-0048

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