Court Overturns Decision In Hopes To Protect Elephants At LA Zoo

By Staff Writer | May 30, 2017 05:15 AM EDT

An order in court that requires the Los Angeles Zoo (LA Zoo) to exercise their elephants on soft ground and to bar the use of electric shock was overturned last Thursday by the California Supreme Court. The court's decision on the zoo was in order to protect the welfare of the animals.

In an article published by the Los Angeles Times, the state's highest court said that the taxpayers obtaining an injunction against the LA Zoo used the wrong legal device in order to obtain the results. This was a unanimous decision made by the judges concerned for the case.

The ruling, which is described as highly technical, said that a taxpayer lawsuit cannot be used to stop a criminal conduct. The suit, which relies heavily on the rules of civil law, led to the injunction against the LA Zoo being accused of violating a criminal law against animal cruelty.

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In an article published by, a Los Angeles Superior Court judge has issued the injunction back in 2012 that would order the LA Zoo to exercise the three Asian elephants for at least two hours a day on rototilled soil as an order to reduce the impact on their legs and pads. The injunction also banned the use of electric shock as a "bull hook" to the elephants in LA Zoo. The use of a barbed stick, which is also a disciplinary tool at the Zoo, will be also banned for a use.

Tarzana lawyer, David Casselman who worked on the LA case for more than five years, said he would return to the trial court to see if there is another way to obtain a similar injunction or ask the Legislature to overturn the ruling. Casselman also worked for the case without any charge.

"What they are saying is, the taxpayer waste statute does not allow civil cases to pursue criminal conduct," he said. Moreover, Casselman said the injunction was important in order to ensure the LA Zoo cares for its elephants properly.

"This is heartbreaking because I thought we had done something here to move the ball forward and instead the Supreme Court has allowed the zoo to take a step into the dark ages," he said. LA Zoo director John Lewis said they will continue to exercise them and provide the best care for their elephants.

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