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Last Updated: Monday, 18 September 2006, 09:50 GMT 10:50 UK
Banksy's elephant provokes anger
The painted elephant at the exhibition
The elephant was intended to represent world poverty
An exhibition by headline-grabbing UK artist Banksy has been criticised for including a live painted elephant.

The animal, called Tai, was covered in pink and gold paint and placed in a mocked-up house to represent how world poverty is widely ignored.

Officials from the Los Angeles Animal Services Department told the Associated Press they would never again issue permits for such a "frivolous" purpose.

The elephant's owner said the dye was non-toxic and welfare was paramount.

Ed Boks, head of Animal Services in Los Angeles, said: "I think it sends a very wrong message that abusing animals is not only OK, it's an art form.

"We find it no longer acceptable to dye baby chicks at Easter, but it's OK to dye an elephant."

Secret identity

Mr Boks said he tried to withdraw permits for the elephant on grounds of public safety last Friday, but found the three-day exhibition would be over before they took effect.

"Permits will not be issued for such frivolous abuse of animals in the future," he said.

Tai's owner, Kari Johnson, denied that the 38-year-old Indian elephant had suffered as a result of the paint job.

She said: "Tai has done many, many movies. She's used to make-up."

The British graffiti artist's Barely Legal exhibition, which took place in a warehouse in downtown Los Angeles, finished on Sunday.

The artist was not available to discuss the California show, which focused on global poverty and injustice.

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