LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — Some major star power has entered the ring to fight to free “Billy The Elephant” from what they call an unnatural environment.

Actress Lily Tomlin especially loves Billy who’s lived at the L.A. Zoo for decades. She’s been fighting for years to have the 32-year-old Asian elephant moved to a sanctuary.

“I just love those little animals, especially the big ones,” Tomlin said. “We aren’t asking to take all the elephants out we are just trying to save Billy’s life.”

Animal right’s activist, Kiersten Cluster doesn’t think Billy’s fairly new enclosure is big enough for him.

“And we’re talking about moving him to a place that has thousands of acres where he can roam. Elephants walk miles in a day and they need to do that for their health.” Cluster said.

Others, who agree, filled the seats of City Hall including Cher, who tweeted:

Some worry Billy’s head bobbing is a sign of distress.

The Zoo disagrees.

“With Asian elephants in particular the distances vary according to where they live,” Zoo director John Lewis said.  “If they live in a habitat that has dense forest lots of food and protection they don’t move that much. Maybe eight miles a day. Our elephants actually move that much each day through the exhibit. They’re exercised two hours a day and have access outside 24 hours a day.”

Zoo leaders argue Billy head bobs while waiting for food or activities and that’s he’s been doing this since he was brought to the zoo at age 4.

“I think we’ve proved over and over the years that the programs at the zoo for elephants and all the other animals are strong professional, and passionately managed.”

City leaders want an independent analysis on Billy’s health as soon as possible and could make a decision on whether Billy stays or goes to a sanctuary depending on what the report finds.


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