Crime & Justice

LA Zoo unveils pachyderm forest preview

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The Los Angeles Zoo unveiled its new Elephants of Asia habitat this morning. Supporters of the pachyderm forest are thrilled. The attorney at the helm of the lawsuit to shut it down has another response.

On its website, the L.A. Zoo says the new elephant exhibit features a variety of elements that elephants would enjoy in the wild: bathing pools, waterfalls and sand pits. Along with barns to house the big creatures, the habitat amounts to 6 acres. Nearly four of them are open space for elephants to roam.

“The space is too small.” Comparable to a walk-in-closet for a human child, says trial attorney David Casselman, although he does credit zoo keepers for making an effort.

“They’re putting logs out there with holes in them and holes in the waterfall where they stuff food behind, so elephants will stick their trunk in," says Casselman. "They consider that intellectual stimulation. It’s better than nothing. It gives them something to do. But, you cannot give a child a yo-yo and say your life has been made.”

Casselman says confinement in such tight quarters boils down to elephant abuse. His legal battle to shut down the zoo’s new $42 million exhibit is in limbo. The zoo will open it while attorneys for and against the habitat prepare for appeals court.