A legal tug-of-war over the city’s aging Asian elephant has officially begun, after a high-profile attorney representing two animal-rights groups filed a lawsuit against the City of Edmonton yesterday.
“We wouldn’t have brought it if we hadn’t had accommodation of a very strong case for the pain and suffering the animal is in,” said Toronto-based lawyer Clayton Ruby, hired by PETA, Zoocheck Canada and Edmonton-based Voice For Animals.
Ruby claims the 34-year-old elephant’s living conditions put the city in direct violation of the Animal Protection Act of Alberta.
The lawsuit hinges on Lucy’s segregation from other elephants, her concrete enclosure, diet and exercise regime. Ruby says her failing health — including arthritis, obesity and respiratory problems –— are a direct result of her living conditions. “They can’t be cured unless she’s sent off to a natural environment,” Ruby said.
Steven Phipps, an attorney representing the City of Edmonton, claims the contrary — that the allegations don’t contravene legislation, and to move Lucy would kill her. “The claims do not have merit. The city has a solid case, and we’re confident we can refute the allegations being made.”
Phipps says the long-awaited suit itself is inappropriate, as complaints should have been filed to the Edmonton Humane Society for investigation.
“To go to a court without going to the officers first circumvents the whole process,” he said.
The lawsuit is the first of its kind seen in Canada.
“It’s going to cost hundreds of thousands to defend this kind of case and defend Lucy’s suffering, and they can’t find enough money for snow removal,” Ruby said.
The legal teams meet in Court of Queen’s Bench March 1.