On October 25th 2011 the Toronto City Council voted 31 to 4 in favour of sending Iringa, Toka & Thika, the three remaining elephants at the Toronto Zoo, to the PAWS Sanctuary in California. Since that time, it seems a small number of zoo people and others have tried to delay or stop the transfer of the elephants to the Sanctuary.
Iringa, Toka & Thika are still in Toronto.
As you know, elephants are highly intelligent, exceptionally social animals that have evolved to walk over long distances and live in warm climates. The Toronto Zoo’s small, barren enclosure and Ontario’s cold winter climate are not appropriate for elephants. Iringa, Toka & Thika shouldn’t be spending another winter season in Toronto.
We are concerned that the delays caused by this unnecessary tug-of-war over the elephants put them at risk, especially Iringa, as she is suffering from serious foot problems, the major cause of elephant deaths in zoos. The elephants deserve to know the joy of walking the hills and pastures, something they could do at the PAWS Sanctuary.
The Sanctuary's African elephant enclosure provides 80 acres of rolling hills, a more elephant-friendly California climate and a dynamic social group for Iringa, Toka and Thika.
PAWS has received elephants from other zoos, as well as circuses. They have the facilities to maintain elephants properly and to manage/treat whatever ailments and/or captivity-associated diseases they arrive at the sanctuary with. No zoo in North America can match the space and accomodation that PAWS provides.
We endorse the decision by Toronto City Council (a decision affirmed by the Toronto Zoo Board of Management) to send Iringa, Toka & Thika to the PAWS Sanctuary. Now it is time for Toronto City Council to:
1. set a deadline for the elephant transfer that ensures the elephants are shipped to California, and
2. ensure there are no further obstructions and delays by taking whatever actions are necessary to expedite the elephant move.
Toronto City Council's decision was a “global good news story” for Toronto. I sincerely hope it doesn't become a global embarrassment.
We believe Toronto’s elephants deserve the best.