Cher petitions for release of elephant from the Los Angeles Zoo: "He is in pain"

Cher petitions for release of elephant from the Los Angeles Zoo: "He is in pain"

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Cher petitions for release of elephant from the Los Angeles Zoo: "He is in pain"

August 13, 2019 4:00 PM

John Shearer/Getty Images via ABCCher doesn't just want to address the elephant in the room -- she wants to rescue it.

The singer and actress Lily Tomlin have teamed up with the Voice for the Animals Foundation to call for the release of Billy, an elephant living at the Los Angeles Zoo.

Cher believes the animal is "in pain" and she wants him to be transferred to a sanctuary operated by the Performing Animal Welfare Society (PAWS).

"He is in pain both physically and psychologically. He spends 80 percent of his time rocking back and forth," Cher tells People. "This behavior is called stereotypic behavior and is widely known to be a sign of distress. It is never seen in wild elephants."

She adds, "Billy is standing on hard-packed dirt in a small, sterile environment. In the wild, he would be walking hundreds of miles a day on soft earth. In the zoo, Billy can't choose what he eats. At a sanctuary, he will have choices."

According to Cher, at a sanctuary, Billy would have 15 acres to roam, rather than his current 3.6, and he would be able to "swim, dust himself as elephants like to do, [and] eat whatever he wants from the lush vegetation at the sanctuary."

The Los Angeles Zoo released a statement to People, assuring that Billy is well taken care of and saying, in part, "The Performing Animal Welfare Society has not reached out to the Zoo directly to offer Billy a home, and notwithstanding, the Zoo has no intentions of sending Billy to a sanctuary."

Cher and Tomlin will also be participating in the 3rd annual "Wait Wait … Don't Kill Me!" Comedy Gala on September 7 in Santa Monica, California, to benefit the Voice for the Animals Foundation.

Monday was World Elephant Day.

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