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Court Rules Against Man Who Fled With Two Elephants

January 19, 1989

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) _ An appeals court on Wednesday rebuffed an absentee animal trainer who went underground with two elephants he says were mistreated by their buyers, and who continues to pursue court appeals by telephone.

Arlan Seidon was absent for the court session, an appeal he pursued through telephone contacts with lawyer Isabelle Strauss of East Orange, an animal- rights activist.

The state appeals court ruled that Seidon had no right to repossess the elephants from two buyers and then flee Monmouth County with them after a judge ordered their return more than four years ago.

″If Seidon was dissatisfied with the result of the trial he had a right to appeal,″ the court’s opinion said. ″Certainly, he had no right to abscond with the elephants.″

Seidon agreed to sell the elephants for $80,000 in 1981 to Edward and Richard Drake, a father and son from California. He retained the right to take the elephants, Tory and Duchess, back if a payment became 90 days late.

When payment was late the next year, the Drakes upped the collateral by adding a chimpanzee and camel, and Seidon said they could keep the elephants. But then Seidon took the pair anyway, beginning a long court battle.

A judge finally ruled in favor of the Drakes in 1984 despite Seidon’s claim that the animals had been mistreated.

Seidon called the Asbury Park Press last March from an undisclosed location and said he would reappear with the animals only if he could get a new trial.

The appeals court judges said, however, that Seidon had failed to show the animals were abused and did not provide any reason to believe the court had erred in 1984.

Ms. Strauss could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

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