Restraining order holds up new elephants at LA Zoo

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Don’t expect an elephant parade at the Los Angeles Zoo soon. A judge issued a temporary restraining order today that’ll prevent the zoo in Griffith Park from acquiring new pachyderms for awhile.

The order results from a lawsuit animal rights activist Robert Culp filed three years ago. The actor best known for TV’s “I Spy” died earlier this year, but his fellow activist Aaron Leider has kept the long-running legal battle going.

The lawsuit claims that a new elephant habitat the zoo plans to open in December will waste taxpayers’ money — and won’t do its inhabitants much good, either. Right now only one of the big mammals, an Asian elephant called Billy, lives in a 9,000 square-foot space at the zoo.

Two other elephants that used to share the enclosure died in recent years.

Activists contend that cramped quarters, neglect and even abuse from zookeepers shortened their lives. L.A. Zoo officials have denied that employees mistreated the animals, or that the elephants’ living conditions are unhealthy.

The zoo plans to add elephants — it won’t say how many — but the court order prohibits that until at least October 25.