Published in the August 21 2010 issue of The Edmonton Sun. News
Judge turfs Lucy suit
Lucy the elephant won’t be moving to California any time soon.
A judge has thrown out the case between the city and animal rights groups trying to move the elephant from the Valley Zoo.
“The city is obviously very pleased by today’s ruling,” City of Edmonton lawyer Stephen Phipps said Friday.
“We were confident that our position would prevail.”
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) and Zoocheck Canada officially launched a lawsuit against the city in February, saying the 34-year-old Asian elephant was suffering at the Valley Zoo.
The Court of Queen’s Bench of Alberta dismissed the case on the basis that “it constituted an abuse of the court’s process.”
Phipps says PETA and Zoocheck did not take the appropriate steps required in a case involving complaints against care of animals and instead tried to “shortcut” the judicial process.
He says a formal complaint and investigation into Lucy’s conditions was not officially made, rather, it was “more of a request that she be removed and moved to California.”
That request was made several years ago and an investigation at that time had concluded that Lucy’s conditions were fine and that moving her would in fact be harmful to her health.
David Perle, senior media co-ordinator for PETA, said he was disappointed with Chief Justice John Rooke’s ruling, saying the judge did not rule on the merits of the case.
“The judge has simply commented on a matter of procedure,” Perle said Friday.
“The judge’s ruling today demonstrates what little legal protection exists for animals who are kept in grossly substandard conditions.”
Perle said PETA will continue to try to get Lucy — who suffers from various respiratory conditions — moved through other forms of legal action, as she “continues to suffer … (as a) result of the substandard conditions at the Valley Zoo.”
But Phipps, zoo officials and a third-party vet maintain that the elephant is well cared for.
“We’re continually striving … to make Lucy’s situation as good as it possibly can be,” said Phipps.
Last year, animal activist and former Price is Right host Bob Barker visited the city in an effort to get Lucy moved.
Actor William Shatner has also been involved in the high-profile case — pleading in a letter to the mayor to let the elephant retire away from the Valley Zoo.