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Actress Richa Moorjani, well known for her portrayal of Kamala in the series Never Have I Ever, has joined In Defense of Animals in urging the Los Angeles City Council and Mayor Eric Garcetti to eliminate pony ride concession contracts in the city. Ongoing mistreatment at Griffith Park Pony Rides and Petting Zoo has prompted the Los Angeles star to call on city leaders to send all of the animals to a sanctuary, and replace the park with a non-animal model.

In Defense of Animals has partnered with the Los Angeles Alliance for Animals, an animal protection organization that has documented footage of elderly ponies on the turnstile not receiving water for long periods at a time, elderly ponies being overworked with no protection against hot temperatures or periods of rest and elderly ponies being prodded for several hours to provide rides to children when they refuse to move any further. The organization has also documented other animals suffering, including a sheep in distress, and rabbits sitting in the hot sun with no shade or water in the petting zoo over the summer.

Due to public pressure, the City of Los Angeles assigned a third-party equine veterinarian to report on the well-being of the ponies and horses at Griffith Park Pony Rides earlier this year. The veterinarian reported ponies with saddle sores, hoof issues, lameness, and dental problems. Based on dental examinations, the vet found many of the ponies to be between 20 and 30 years old.

Despite over 1,000 emails from In Defense of Animals supporters, the concessions contract was renewed and the animals there are still being forced to work despite challenges from advanced age and medical ailments. There are boundless options for educational models to replace this concession, allowing all of the animals at Griffith Park Pony Rides and Petting Zoo to retire from this business.

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“Elderly ponies and horses are being abused and neglected for entertainment, right in the heart of Los Angeles, it is beyond disheartening,” said Moorjani. “Horses are highly intelligent, emotional and sensitive beings that deserve to live and roam freely, not exploited for profit in the name of ‘fun.’ The conditions these animals are forced to work in are disturbing and unacceptable, and it is heartbreaking to see their very evident suffering. I urge you to please join me and stand with In Defense of Animals — demand the Griffith Park Pony Rides and Petting Zoo be replaced with non-animal ‘entertainment,’ and send all of the animals to a sanctuary where they can be given a chance to live happily without suffering.”

“Los Angeles has become home to many effective animal protection measures that often serve as models for laws and regulations elsewhere in the nation and around the world. City Council has the opportunity to join over 1,000 In Defense of Animals supporters, actress Richa Moorjani, and the Los Angeles Alliance for Animals to once again set a positive precedent by eliminating pony ride contracts in the city and sending the animals at Griffith Park Pony Rides and Petting Zoo to sanctuary, allowing these gentle, sentient beings to live out their golden years in peace and comfort,” said Lisa Levinson, Campaigns Director at In Defense of Animals.

“We are incredibly grateful that Actress Richa Moorjani is calling upon the Los Angeles City Council to retire all of the animals at Griffith Park and Pony Ride and Petting Zoo to a sanctuary. Angelenos would agree that this is a step in the right direction,” said Zohra Fahim, Founder and President of Los Angeles Alliance for Animals.

Over the past year, In Defense of Animals has encouraged supporters to reach out to Los Angeles Recreation and Park Commissioners, City Council, and Mayor Eric Garcetti to take action on these issues at Griffith Park Pony Rides and Petting zoo and eliminate pony ride concession contracts in the city so this type of neglect cannot happen elsewhere.