Updated after the jump: A witness describes the electric moment Billy's eyes met Tina's. (Sadly, she's post-reproductive. So is Jewel.) Originally posted at 12:05 p.m.
It's been a long four years of solitude for Billy, the Los Angeles Zoo's sole elephant on the block. But things got steamy last night when two older women moved in next door.
Zoo spokesman Jason Jacobs said that Tina and Jewel, believed to be in their mid-40s, were making all sorts of “grunts, squeaks and chirps” upon their evening arrival. The sprightly young 25-year-old answered with noises of his own (and a jazzy trumpet rendition of “Let's Get It On”).
On the downside, Billy will be sentenced to 30 days of blue balls:
The San Diego sirens are to be quarantined for a month before being slowly introduced to Billy, who has lived alone since two other females at the L.A. Zoo died — the second from arthritis complications in 2006 — and a third, Ruby, was transferred to a sanctuary.
City News Service reports that the trio will be the shining stars of a $42 million Elephants of Asia exhibit opening to the public on Dec. 16. The exhibit was paid for by the L.A. City Council four years back.
The Los Angeles Alliance for Elephants has long advocated for Billy, asking councilmembers and zookeepers to move him to a larger sanctuary. Now, the arrival of the two new cows, animal activists say, is irresponsible — a mere cover-up of an unhealthy situation that left many other elephants dead or scarred for life.
Since 1975, Last Chance for Animals reports, 11 elephants have died in the Los Angeles Zoo.
Good luck, girls. And Billy — hold tight.
Update: Zoo spokesman Jacobs gleefully recalls the elephants' first morning together:
“Today they went out and saw each other for the first time,” he said. “Tina and Billy looked at each other for quite a while. Jewel is more into eating.”
Guess that rules out a threesome. Jacobs explained that the quarantine period is necessary to ensuring the animals don't transmit outside diseases, and that it's still an exciting time.
“It's not as simple as just sticking them in,” he said. (That's also what she said.) “It's enriching to just be able to see each other, smell each other and touch each other through the holes.”
As for the requests by animal-rights groups that Billy be moved to a sanctuary like Ruby, Jacobs said he doesn't think that would be a good idea. He explained that Ruby was “an older post-reproductive African,” so she fit in better at the sanctuary.
“Sanctuaries are for animals who don't have options,” he said. “Billy has a lot of options.”
We'll say. Take a peek through the elephant cam: