Stars Perform To Free Billy From L.A. Zoo



Legendary comedienne Lily Tomlin will be joined by some of today's leading comedy acts including Orny Adams, Elayne Boosler, Rick Overton with emcee Bruce Vilanch at a private estate in Beverly Hills in a benefit event for Voice For The Animals www.vftafoundation.org on Saturday, August 7th from 5:00 - 8:00 p.m.  Tickets are $100 and $200 and are tax deductible. To purchase tickets and for more information go to www.helpbilly.org or call (310) 392-5253 ext. 6#.

The evening will commence with cocktails and fine vegan food on the grounds of a spacious private estate in Beverly Hills. Tomlin and friends will then take the stage in a knockout round of non-stop laughs. And while laugh-until-it-hurts is the objective, the benefit's cause is no laughing matter. Tomlin, a longtime friend of VFTA, hopes to draw attention and raise money to support VFTA's lawsuit to free Billy the Elephant from the Los Angeles Zoo-and close down the planned pachyderm exhibit.

"Lily has been instrumental from the start in helping us bring this issue to light.  She loves elephants and wants Billy to go to a place where he can roam free on many acres with other elephants," says Melya Kaplan, founder and executive director of VFTA. "Our lawsuit against the Los Angeles zoo is scheduled to go to trial November 2nd."  Celebrity supporters for the evening, though not attending, include James Cromwell, Kevin Nealon and Bernie Williams.

VFTA's lawsuit originated in 2007 and was filed on behalf of two plaintiffs including the late actor Robert Culp. The suit charges the Los Angeles zoo with cruel and unusual punishment of elephants (there have been 14 elephant deaths in the zoo's history, two in the past four years) and seeks to shut down the $42 million planned elephant exhibit the city council approved in January of 2009.  It was the second time the council voted in approval of the exhibit in light of sufficient evidence that proves the care captive elephants receive constitutes civil and criminal abuse under California law. After a series of motions and appeals, the Court of Appeals finally ruled the case could go to trial.

"Lily and all of our guests understand the significance of the lawsuit, not only to save Billy from what inevitably will be an early death, but to send an even louder message," explains Kaplan. "These magnificent, sensitive and loving creatures belong in the wild. And if they've already been brought here, then they belong in wide-open sanctuaries designed to meet their physical and emotional needs."

Donations may also be sent to  Voice For The Animals Foundation, 2633 Lincoln Blvd., #202, Santa Monica, CA; 90405-4656.

About Voice for the Animals Foundation
Founded by Meyla Kaplan, Voice for the Animals Foundation (VFTA) is a nonprofit devoted to empathy for animals through education, rescue, advocacy and legislation.  Since it's founding in 2000, VFTA has implemented programs such as reuniting Ruby the elephant with her companion in the L.A. Zoo in 2004.  In 2007, Ruby was moved to a free-roaming, natural habitat in Northern California.  VFTA "Working Cats" program has successfully placed homeless cats in the Orchid Mart, Crossroads School campus and the Los Angeles Police Department Wilshire and Foothill divisions to repel rats. This has allowed the cats to live in cooperation with the businesses they help.

Georja Umano is an actress/comedienne and animal advocate.

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