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Elephant Awareness Day Declared PDF Print E-mail
Written by Andres Chavez   
Thursday, 21 June 2012 04:50

PHOTO COURTESY

Juliette West, known as "elephant girl." traveled to Thailand as part of a rescue mission

In a unanimous vote, the Los Angeles City Council Tuesday declared Aug. 3 as Elephant Awareness Day in the city. The goal is to increase awareness of the often poor conditions that pachyderms experience in captivity.

"Throughout history, elephants have played an important role in human economies, religion and culture, and they are beloved animals that attract crowds to zoos and circuses and many attractions," said Councilman Tony Cardenas, who sponsored the resolution to increase awareness about the often poor treatment of elephants in captivity.

Juliette West, a 16-year-old Pacific Palisades resident and well known activist against elephant cruelty, was also given a commemorative resolution by the council for her efforts on behalf of elephants. She's part of the 2009 effort to get an elephant out of the L.A. Zoo.

She told the council that the resolution provided a "powerful foundation" for raising elephant awareness. "I think people should understand that any time you see any wild animal in an enclosure that they think is too small or somewhere that is so different from their natural habitat, they obviously don't belong, and I consider that abuse," West said Although very young, West is considered a leading animal activist, known by many as the "elephant girl" for her heroic work. Her activism has included elephants rescue missions in Thailand. A documentary was made about her rescue efforts.

West has also spoken at dozens of events across the country during the last seven years, urging people to boycott elephant entertainment.

"Elephant Awareness Day will be a great way to get people's attention," West said. "People think it sounds funny and ask what there is to know about elephants.

But then they are shocked to find out that there is a lot to learn about how they are inhumanely treated, and how going to zoos and circuses helps to support the abuse of elephants.

I hope and intend that Elephant Awareness Day will be part of the solution in helping to better the lives of elephants worldwide."

Animal activists were pleased by the city's resolution and stressed the positive impact it will have for elephants everywhere.

"Awareness is the key to protecting and preserving these magnificent animals, whether it's learning about the suffering of elephants in captivity or taking action to conserve them in the wild," said Catherine Doyle, Elephant Campaign Director for In Defense of Animals.

"We applaud Councilmember Cardenas, a true champion for elephants, and the Los Angeles City Council for establishing Elephant Awareness Day and also congratulate Juliette West for the special recognition she's received from the Los Angeles City Council," Doyle added. "Her advocacy work on behalf of elephants is an inspiration to other young people and will lead the next generation to take action for elephants and make a meaningful difference in the world."

Rachelle Owen, Manager of Youth Programs for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, PETA, also applauded the city's progressive action.

"Asking people to take a day to consider how they can help elephants- an animal who is loved yet notoriously abused in circuses and other industries-is groundbreaking and is a sign that we're moving towards a day when elephants are not kept in chains, denied basic rights, and instead are allowed to live out the natural lives in the wild where they were meant to be," Owen said.

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Last Updated on Thursday, 21 June 2012 04:53