Ruby the Elephant Will Go to a Sanctuary!

IDA and other animal advocates applaud compassionate decision

IDA and Los Angeles Alliance for Elephants are hailing the decision to transfer Ruby, a 46-year-old elephant who has been the center of controversy since 2003, from the Los Angeles Zoo to the PAWS sanctuary in Northern California. Advocates and citizens -- including California Assemblyman Lloyd Levine and TV game show host Bob Barker -- have long urged the move. Barker has pledged $300,000 in matching funds to support Ruby's transfer and care at the sanctuary.

"Ruby was the first elephant to bring national attention to the suffering of elephants in zoos," says veterinarian and IDA president Elliot Katz. "We are pleased to have played a part in encouraging the decision to move her to the sanctuary. It's the right thing to do."

Ruby gained worldwide attention when, in 2003, the L.A. Zoo separated her from Gita, her companion of 16 years, and sent her to a Knoxville, Tenn. zoo. The zoo was unable to integrate her with its elephants, forcing former L.A. mayor James Hahn to call for Ruby's return. L.A. Zoo has held Ruby off public display since her return in 2004.

Ruby must leave L.A. Zoo because, as an African elephant, she has no place in the Zoo's planned Asian elephant exhibit. She has been held in solitary confinement since the death of Gita in 2006, even though elephants are highly social and should never live alone.

At the PAWS sanctuary, Ruby will be able to roam more than 70 acres of natural landscape with other African elephants. The facility will give Ruby more than 500 times the space of her current enclosure. PAWS has received elephants from zoos in Detroit, San Francisco, and Milwaukee.

"We are pleased to see the City, the L.A. Zoo and Mayor Villaraigosa recognize that it's best to send Ruby to a sanctuary, which, unlike any zoo, can provide the vast space and natural conditions elephants need to thrive," said Catherine Doyle of Los Angeles Alliance for Elephants.

One elephant remains at L.A. Zoo, a 21-year-old male Asian elephant named Billy. For more information on IDA's years-long campaign to move Ruby to a sanctuary, please visit Also read the article "Ruby to leave L.A. Zoo for greener pastures" in the L.A. Times, which quotes IDA elephant campaign director Catherine Doyle.

What You Can Do

Please "Take Action" to thank Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa for sending Ruby to a sanctuary. Then follow up with a phone call, email, fax or letter. Your message can be as simple as: "Thank you for making the compassionate decision to send Ruby to a sanctuary. It's the right thing to do."

It doesn't matter if you are a citizen of Los Angeles or not: what's important is that the mayor receive a huge amount of comments thanking him not only for the decision, but also for sticking to his progressive belief that elephants belong in sanctuaries and not zoos. He reiterated that belief at the press conference announcing Ruby's release, and also commented that there is an ongoing conversation about this issue. We need to keep that conversation going!

Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa
200 N. Spring St., Room 303
Los Angeles, CA 90012
Tel: (213) 978-0600
Fax: (213) 978-0750

In your message to the mayor, please save your comments regarding Billy and the planned exhibit expansion for another time. Rest assured, we'll be providing plenty of opportunities to take action on those issues in the near future, as our work at L.A. Zoo is not yet done!