Saturday, January 2, 2016

Leider v. Lewis and the City of Los Angeles

In August, 2007, a tax-payer and resident of the City of Los Angeles filed a lawsuit against John R. Lewis, the director of the Los Angeles Zoo, and the City of Los Angeles in an attempt to close the elephant exhibit and transfer Billy, Tina, and Jewel to Sanctuary. Specifically, the plaintiff sought injunctive and declaratory relief prohibiting the use of bull hooks and electric shock to manage the elephants at the zoo and permanently closing the elephant exhibit.

On July 29, 2012 the trial court issued its Statement of Decision. Judge Segal ruled in favor of the plaintiff, but only offered the following relief for the elephants:
1. An injuction against the use of bull hooks and electric shock.
2. An injuction requiring zoo staff to exercise the elephants at least 2 hours every day.
3. An injuction requiring zoo staff to rototill the soil and substrate of the exhibit regularly.

Incredibly, Lewis and the City of Los Angeles appealed these minor concessions to the comfort and well-being of the elephants in their care. While they did agree to cease using bull hooks and electric shock, they appealed both the exercise and rototilling requirements. The grounds for appeal were procedural only. Lewis and the City of Los Angeles claim that the plaintiff did not have the necessary standing to file this lawsuit in the first place.

The appeal has been argued in the California Court of Appeal, 2nd District, and both parties are waiting  for the Court's decision.

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