Lily Tomlin and Friends Gather In Beverly Hills To Help Billy The Elephant‏
Thursday, August 19, 2010 at 03:29PM
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By Songirl Sez, Special for Diversity News Magazine                                                           August 2010

Legendary comedienne Lily Tomlin appeared with some of today’s hottest leading comedy acts on Saturday, August 7, 2010 in Beverly Hills, CA at the Lavinthal estate for a fundraiser held by Voice For The Animals to raise funds for Billy the elephant, who has been in solitary confinement at the L.A. zoo for over 20 years.

With Lily Tomlin and Robin Torme'

  Held on the sprawling estate grounds, the event went from 5-9pm and was emce’d by Bruce Vilanch, who introduced an all star line consisting of fellow comedians Orny Adams, Elayne Boosler and Rick Overton. A special speech of support by Los Angeles City councilman Tony Cardenas, before Lily graced the stage at the mansion. Tax deductible tickets ranged from $100-$350 and included cocktails and fine vegan food. An auction continued after the show while desert was served.

With Patty Shanker

Celebrity supporters for the evening (although some unable to attend) included James Cromwell, Kevin Nealon, Bernie Williams, Georja Umano, Mariana Tosca, Fawn and Ashley Bell. There were a host of well known animal advocates present including Patty Shanker, Ed Boks, Bill Dyer, Robin Torme’, Bryan Monell, Daphne Dimitriadi, Linda Grey Heitz, Marjorie Hirsch Loeb, Sandra Mohr and Kat Kramer.

With Rick Overton and Robin Torme'

  “Lily and all of our guests understand the significance of the lawsuit, not only to save Billy from what inevitably will be an early death, but to send an even louder message,” said Melya Kaplan, founder and executive director of VFTA. She added “These magnificent, sensitive and loving creatures belong in the wild and if they’ve already been brought here, then they belong in wide-open sanctuaries designed to meet their physical and emotional needs.”

With Bryan Monell.

About Billy the elephant and why so many people gathered to help him:
Billy was born in 1985 and has been in solitary confinement since 1989 at the L.A. zoo. He was caught in the wild and forcibly taken from his native home of Malaysia, as part of a trade between the L.A. Zoo and the Malaysian Game Department. Billy lives on approximately one-quarter acre at L.A. Zoo. In the wild, elephants can walk 30 miles in a day. There are roughly 640 acres in one mile.

Lily Tomlin woos the crowd.

With no other elephants near him, Billy lives an unnatural, solitary life at the Zoo. While male elephants are often kept separate from other elephants in zoos, in the wild males can display social connections, residing in bachelor herds or frequenting areas with female elephants, sometimes moving from family to family. In India, younger bulls join with older bulls to crop raid. For many years Billy has displayed stereotypic behavior in the form of repetitive head bobbing that goes on for extended periods of time. Stereotypic behavior is often viewed as an indicator of poor welfare, caused by factors such as restriction of movement, size of enclosure, social isolation, and lack of complexity in the physical environment. Billy has experienced all of these factors at the L.A. Zoo. In fact, Billy was routinely chained each night, likely from the time of his arrival at L.A. Zoo in 1989 until 1994, for approximately 12 to 14 hours each night. It was during this period that a keeper reportedly physically abused Billy by using electric shock on him.

 Experts state that stereotypic behavior can lead to foot problems such as nail cracks (which Billy already has), and abscesses and abrasions to the sole of the foot. Foot-related problems are one of the leading causes of euthanasia in captive elephants in the United States.  If you would like more information on Billy or A Voice For Animals, please visit http://vftafoundation.org/ or http://www.helpbilly.org/


With Orny Adams.

Article originally appeared on Fawn (http://www.fawnmusic.com/).
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