Friday, February 02, 2007

A Trip to the Zoo


Feb. 2, 1907
Los Angeles

Conditions at Chutes Park are so bad that the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals is making a second inspection to see whether operator J.B. Lehigh has made any improvements before his Feb. 20 trial on charges of abuse and neglect.

Chutes is nothing more than a mud-filled stockyards of suffering animals, The Times says. “The ‘park’ is a long puddle of filth, reeking with slime and mud. In the pen where three little does are confined, one of them so emaciated that it is literally hidebound, a thick green scum has formed over the stagnant pool of slime that occupies a good share of the particular part of the ‘park’ where these poor little animals are shut up.”

In answer to the question of what became of the birds, an attendant replied: “Dead.”

“They used to keep ’em in cages over by the entrance, but a few weeks ago they moved ’em all down [illegible] with the cockatoos and parrots and you can guess what happened. [Those?] great big birds just killed all the [illegible] off—that’s where the birds have gone to.”

“A patient zebra paced up and down the narrow path at one edge of his cage, which was the only dry spot in the pen, and a big, beautiful elk beat his horns helplessly against the bars of his small quarters. His coat was matted with filth and the mud was a foot deep in his pen,” The Times says.

Lehigh was found not guilty animal cruelty after witnesses testified that elk like to wallow in mud. “At times, it is in a manner necessary to their comfort,” The Times says. “Elk, said one old-timer whose beard hung to his waist, like to wallow and it does them good.”

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