Slash Backs Pachyderm Forest At L.A. Zoo


January 13, 2009

Velvet Revolver guitarist Slash, who has visited zoos around the world while on tour, Tuesday lent his backing to the under-construction Pachyderm Forest at the Los Angeles Zoo.

The $42 million project has reinvigorated a long-standing dispute over whether elephants should be kept in relatively small enclosures and whether it is fiscally responsible to spend so much on an animal habitat.

Slash, formerly of Gun N’ Roses, and his family toured the habitat Sunday. The Pachyderm Forest is designed to house up to five adult Asian elephants and three of their offspring, with more than 3 1/2 acres for the elephants to roam around, plus two pools and a waterfall on the six-acre site.

“It’s really beautiful,” Slash said. “It’s really well done. It gives the elephants an amazing amount of room to move around. I’m a huge advocate of this particular exhibit.”

Karen Poly, a 25-year animal keeper at the zoo, said she has “always been impressed with Slash’s knowledge of animals. In many cases, he is even able to identify the different subspecies, something that most people can’t do.”

The Los Angeles City Council voted 13-2 last month to stop construction on the exhibit until at least the end of January. The Arts, Parks, Health and Aging Committee will discuss the issue on Jan. 27.

“I want to make sure that the city council has all of the facts to make this very important decision,” said City Councilman Tom LaBonge, who supports moving ahead with the exhibit.

Councilman Tony Cardenas has led the fight shut down the elephant exhibit and move the zoo’s lone elephant, Billy, to a sanctuary. Cardenas has voiced concerns that elephants need room to walk and typically suffer debilitating foot problems inside zoos.

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