SOURCE: Last Chance for Animals

August 01, 2006 19:12 ET

Group Blasts LA Zoo for Animal Death Blunders, Calls for Zoo Director's Dismissal

LOS ANGELES, CA -- (MARKET WIRE) -- August 1, 2006 -- Disgusted at the latest reports of the unnecessary death of a male chimpanzee at the Los Angeles Zoo, Last Chance for Animals (LCA), an LA-based animal advocacy organization, calls for Mayor Villaraigosa to dismiss LA Zoo Director John Lewis.

Judeo, a 25-year old chimpanzee, was bitten by a rattlesnake that fell into his enclosure at approximately 1pm last Wednesday. Zoo officials claim the chimp was promptly given antivenin but later died. However, according to the Los Angeles Daily News, a whistleblower at the zoo claims keepers were aware Judeo was bitten at 1pm, but failed to act until approximately 3pm, despite reports that Judeo had "a bad case of the shakes." However, instead of calling a veterinarian, keepers called the "Reptile House" -- the zoo's home for snakes and lizards. Even then, instead of administering antivenin, the whistleblower reports Judeo was merely given over-the-counter Benadryl.

"The level of mismanagement at the LA Zoo is incomprehensible. When Gita the elephant died, the zoo's official account of the events of her death was proven false after a zoo employee came forward with the real story. Now another employee is coming forward regarding Judeo. If the whistleblower is correct, we have a serious problem on our hands and LA city officials need to re-evaluate John Lewis' employment with the city," stated LCA President Chris DeRose.

When the real story about Gita's death was uncovered, zoo officials put all the blame on one employee -- a woman they later "allowed to resign." Backing up zoo officials, Councilmember Tom LaBonge, whose district includes the zoo, responded by stating, "When a public employee misses such an important call, their services to the city should be re-evaluated." LCA asserts that John Lewis should be held up to the same standards.

"We are sick and tired of John Lewis not taking responsibility for the problems at the LA Zoo. Judeo received inadequate care and someone needs to be held accountable. That someone is John Lewis," stated Lisa Beal, LCA Campaigns Director.

Chris DeRose and Lisa Beal are available for comment. Please call (310) 271- 6096 x27.

Last Chance for Animals (LCA), a national animal rights organization based in Los Angeles.

For more information, visit www.LCAnimal.org.

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