Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Billy the bull Asian elephant at the LA Zoo is probably the most controversial elephant of recent history. Many notable animal rights activists backed by celebrities including Bob Barker, Halle Barry and Cher called for an end to Billy’s captivity in the LA Zoo and sought to have him transferred to an elephant sanctuary. The issue was pushed by city council member Tony Cardenas. The big problem for the zoo wasn’t permission from the city, it was money. The zoo needed 42 million to finish the pachyderm forest enclosure that is already years behind schedule. Fortunately for the zoo the drama surrounding Billy was finally put to rest when the city council approved the completion of the pachyderm forest at the LA Zoo. The fervor on both sides of the issue made Billy the elephant a daily feature on the news.

Elephants in captivity are a touchy issue. I can definitely empathize with both sides of the issue. I can’t imagine my childhood without them. But seeing an elephant is not a right, it is a privilege. Elephants are very intelligent social creatures that depend on relationships with other elephants. Unfortunately because of their size and strength their social needs are too often neglected in zoos. I have visited many elephants in zoos who in cramped enclosures sway from side to side and neurotically bob their heads up and down. I hope that the new pachyderm forest in the LA Zoo is able to provide a mentally and physically stimulating home for Billy and other elephants.


  1. You are so right on about this issue. We had a famous elephant here in Kansas City Zoo. His name was Casey... I think he made it to 50 some years but it was the treatment of him the last decade or so that was inhumane. The zoo was broke so ere went all the animals. It is a privilege to view God's creatures.
    Super sketch from my side of the table. Thanks.

  2. Hello
    my name is rebecca are we allowed to put our drawings of animals here or is that not allowed and if yes how do we do it? I loved the elephant drawing you are very good was that in watercolor? it is unnatural what they make elephants do in the circus they would never do that in the wild. and to be beaten with a spiked stick would drive any animal crazy. please never stop creating beautiful pieces of art you are so necessary

  3. I'm glad the issue has been resolved to better benefit the animals where you are, David! I remember Casey's sad state, Rick...

    And Rebecca, this is an invitation-only blog, sorry--you can see your correspondents in the sidebar to the left, sorry!

  4. The line work in these drawings is lovely as is the colour play. One of my favorite bits is in the second sketch were you have allowed no colour to wash into the outer line on the back. Whether done to accentuate a preferred lower line or not it allows for a sense of motion and highlight both. Love it.


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