SaveTheElephants.ca : Citizens advocating to: (a) keep the three elephants at the Toronto Zoo, and (b) in the
alternative, have them moved to an AZA-accredited facility such as The National Elephant Center (TNEC) in Florida.

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Friday, 20 September 2013

Are elephants going to die because TO city cllrs wanted their profiles to look good?

"Are elephants going to die because TO city cllrs wanted their profiles to look good? Former Toronto Zoo CEO Peter Evans joins me. SHOWGRAM." - Jim Richards, radio host (source)

(19-Sep-2013) Jim Richards interviews former Toronto Zoo CEO Peter Evans and Lisa Selby from Zoos Matter about concerns regarding the planned moving of the Toronto Zoo elephants by truck transport to California.

Note: Interview starts at time 16:01.

Thursday, 19 September 2013

Journey by Truck Could be Deadly, Experts Fear

As reported by CBC News (18-Sep-2013), the Toronto Zoo's plan to ship three aging African elephants in crates to an animal sanctuary in California is being criticized by several experts — including the zoo's former CEO — as being dangerous or even deadly.

See also: Plan to Move Elephants by Truck to California Sanctuary

Plan to Move Elephants by Truck to California Sanctuary

(18-Sep-2013) Toronto Zoo officials Chris Dulong and Jennifer Tracey spoke to CityNews Toronto about how the Toronto Zoo's three female African elephants are planned to make the trek to an animal sanctuary in California, 4218 km away, by truck in steel transport crates. Toka, Thika and Iringa are planned to travel after the Thanksgiving weekend (i.e.: after 14-Oct-2013).

See also: Journey by Truck Could be Deadly, Experts Fear

Saturday, 29 December 2012

Truth for Toronto Zoo Elephants - Save Toronto Zoo Elephants

Video: "Truth for Toronto Zoo Elephants - Save Toronto Zoo Elephants"

Description:

Stop the transfer of these elephants to a sanctuary with two tuberculosis deaths in 2 years and current active tuberculosis which was transmitted ON SITE from one elephant (now deceased) to another. These TB+ Asian elephants shared a barn with the African elephants for five years... the last African elephant to die, Ruby has had no cause of death ever determined and the sanctuary would not provide her tissue culture reports to the Toronto zoo, WHY?

Transcript:

  • 0:00 - TUBERCULOSIS IS NOT FREEDOM
  • 0:05 - Refuting Propaganda 2.0
  • 0:10 - Why would anyone deliberately expose three healthy elephants to a deadly disease? In the name of a cause?
  • 0:18 - And send them to a facility with proven tuberculosis transmission on site?
  • 0:23 - [TRUTH] [LIES LIES LIES ...]
  • 0:30 - Sometimes the TRUTH challenges what we want to believe in
  • 0:35 - Toronto City Council Will force the Toronto Zoo Elephants to be moved to a sanctuary which has a scientifically proven tuberculosis risk in both its African and Asian herds. Why?
  • 0:42 - What is objectionable, what is dangerous, about extremists is not that they are extreme, but that they are intolerant. The evil is not what they say about their cause but what they say about their opponents.
  • 0:48 - Is your animal rights cause more important than true animal welfare?
  • 0:53 - We are not your post children
  • 0:58 - We are not a trophy
  • 1:03 - We are not your victory
  • 1:08 - You have no right to risk our lives in the name of your self-righteous dogma
  • 1:13 - To sentence us to death ... With your propaganda
  • 1:20 - We are NOT your political pawns
  • 1:25 - This is not animal welfare
  • 1:30 - This is Animal Abuse
  • 1:35 - There are safer alternatives. But your egos and your arrogance have more value than the truth. More value than our LIVES
  • 1:40 - WE ARE NOT YOUR CAUSE
  • 1:45 - Your politics, journalist degrees and environmental studies diplomas negate reality? Or is it your egos?
  • 1:50 - SAVE THE TORONTO ZOO ELEPHANTS
  • 1:55 - Say NO to tuberculosis!
  • 2:00 - Say NO to any risk. Say NO to any exposure. Say NO to false animal activism. Say NO to TUBERCULOSIS
  • 2:05 - [SAY NO TO TB]
  • 2:10 - Zoos exploit animals? Think again
  • 2:15 - TRUTH: PAWS DID NOT TELL TORONTO ZOO ABOUT THEIR TUBERCULOSIS CRISIS
  • 2:22 - Before they signed a contract with the Toronto Zoo.
  • 2:29 - Citizens had to prove it with USDA DOCUMENTS
  • 2:38 - Dragging the truth out tooth and nail...
  • 2:43 - To Save Our elephant's lives from the ignorance of politicians and animal rights dogma
  • 2:51 - You only meant well? Why don't you take this risk With your own pets and loved ones?
  • 3:00 - Tuberculosis risks exist at the sanctuary
  • 3:08 - What is more important? Your cause? Or our lives?
  • 3:16 - This is just what we need? TUBERCULOSIS, take a long hard look
  • 3:25 - [FAIL] What right does this man have to risk our lives?
  • 3:33 - ... because you are a self-proclaimed environmental activist? [WHO'S PLAYING GOD?] Zoos? Or politicians and activists?
  • 3:42 - [SAY NO TO TUBERCULOSIS] We are NOT your victory
  • 3:50 - We are not your trophy
  • 3:56 - We are not your political pawns
  • 4:02 - Or your bargaining chips...
  • 4:06 - [DON'T BELIEVE THE LIES]

Other "Truth For Toronto Zoo Elephants" videos:

To learn more about the issue, and how you can help, see the About page.

Sunday, 23 December 2012

Toronto Zoo Board Meeting (18-Dec-2012)

The Board of Management of the Toronto Zoo met on 18-Dec-2012 and discussed Item ZB18.5 Elephant Transfer Due Diligence.

This Zoo Board meeting was the first meeting following the latest City of Toronto Council meeting. At that City Council meeting (27/28-Nov-2012), City Council reaffirmed their decision to send the three Toronto Zoo elephants to PAWS in Item EX24.30 Elephant Transfer Status Update

As part of ZB18.5, the Toronto Zoo's CEO John Tracogna submitted documents:

Members of the public gave deputations regarding several important issues:

  • How is it that City Council could use Dr. Cork's report to say that due diligence has been met. The Toronto Zoo veterinarians are the ones who should be making that decision.

  • That Dr. Cork's report may not be independent. The letter by Dean Cribb (page 2) refers to the report as the "2012 PAWS report" and two attachments ("Cover Letter to Zoocheck" and "PAWS Zoocheck UCVM Release Authorization") are missing from the submission. When Dr. Cork was asked to supply information that was partially missing from her report and that she must have available since she is the author of the report, she said to contact Zoocheck.

  • That the submission to City Council contained three pages entitled "Notes on the Report" (pages 3-4) and "DISCUSSION POINTS" (page 5) that appear to not be from Dr. Cork. The authorship of those pages is in question.

  • That the City Council merely advised the Toronto Zoo Board and was not directing them when City Council made its decision on 27-Dec-2012.

  • Whether Dr. Cork contacted the Toronto Zoo senior veterinarians in preparing her report, and whether the Toronto Zoo senior veterinarians have reviewed Dr. Cork's report and have comments on it.

  • That Dr. Dale Smith said during her deputation at Executive Committee (5-Nov-2012), "The shipment of elephants without any evidence of tuberculosis to a location where animals have died with active disease, and where a strong possibility exists of there being additional infected animals, is an unethical decision."

  • That the Toronto Zoo senior veterinarians are being put into an ethical dilemma if they are asked by the Toronto Zoo Board to move the elephants considering that they have concluded that PAWS is not a suitable facility. The Toronto Zoo senior veterinarians must uphold their professional responsibility.

  • That the Toronto Zoo senior veterinarians are responsible for the animals at the Toronto Zoo and thus they could not abstain from any decision, and that they could lose their veterinarian licenses.

  • Whether the Toronto Zoo's senior veterinarians should resign.

  • That the company Active Environments may not be an ethically suitable company to be brought in to crate train the elephants. There may be a connection to dolphin drive hunting in Taiji, Japan.

With regards to Dr. Cork's independence, Councillor Lindsay Luby commented that when her office contacted Dr. Cork to confirm independence, Dr. Cork referred to Zoocheck rather than directly answering the question herself.

Councillor Lindsay Luby stated that Dr. Cork's report was handed out at the Toronto City Council meeting and that the Councillors did not have a chance to read it beforehand.

Councillor De Baeremaeker suggested that if a professional is asked to do something by their employer that they feel is unethical then they should resign as a matter of principle. And he suggested that advice should be given to the zoo staff, that they should be encouraged to resign.

Prof. Ian Duncan stated that if the Toronto Zoo veterinarians were to resign, any replacement veterinarian would make the same ethical decision. Councillor De Baeremaeker replied that he and CEO John Tracogna had met with several veterinarians in the prior week and that those veterinarians said they would be comfortable transporting the elephants to PAWS.

Sabrina Fiorellino, one of the Toronto Zoo Board members, recommended that the Toronto Zoo veterinarians contact their governing body, the College of Veterinarians of Ontario (CVO).

In the end, the Toronto Zoo Board made the following decisions:

  1. Requested the Chief Executive Officer to provide a report to the Board of Management on Active Environments' qualifications and competence to work with Toronto Zoo staff on elephants.

  2. Requested that if air transportation is used to move the elephants, a pressurized plane with sound and temperature control be used and that each elephant be placed in a suitably sized crate, prior to transportation, thereby meeting the International Animal Transportation standards, to the satisfaction of the Chief Executive Officer of the Toronto Zoo.

  3. Thanked Toronto Zoo staff for their work in support of the Zoo.

  4. Requested Toronto Zoo staff to not consider resigning over this issue.

See: Toronto elephants on track for April departure, Toronto Sun (18-Dec-2012)

Friday, 14 December 2012

Truth For Toronto Zoo Elephants - We Will Continue to Fight For You

Video: "Truth For Toronto Zoo Elephants - We Will Continue to Fight For You"

Description:

Animal rights ideologies should not supersede true animal welfare. When your cause and the need to define one's self becomes greater than, more important than the health and well being of animal then it is time to re-evaluate the motives of the spiritual leaders of your agendas. Science facts and logic have proven that there is a tuberculosis risk if the Toronto Zoo elephants are transferred to PAWS Sanctuary. No matter how much you want to support the sanctuary or how much you are against the institution of zoos at no point should your emotions or personal opinions override the logical truth. The sanctuary is not safe for ANY ELEPHANT AT THIS TIME.You have no right to force our elephants to be deliberately and irresponsibly exposed to this deadly disease. "Fare Thee Well" copyright The Rankin Family. I do not own the copyright to this song nor am I using it for profit. Its beautiful classic Canadian music for three beautiful Canadian elephants whose lives we cherish and value enough to fight for.

Transcript:

  • 0:00: The Truth About Toronto Zoo Elephants
  • 0:01: Refuting Propaganda 2.0
  • 0:03: There is overwhelming evidence that PAWS elephant sanctuary has had TUBERCULOSIS TRANSMISSION on site. * Lab Reports, * Necropsy Reports, * Tissue Culture Reports
  • 0:08: These elephants have been USED * EXPLOITED As a trophy and a victory For the animal rights movement. The cause has superseded The true welfare of Iringa Toka and Thika
  • 0:13: City councillors colluded with Anti zoo organizations and engaged In a public relations campaign of lies about the Toronto Zoo
  • 0:18: This transfer is UNETHICAL. Disease prevention protocols FAILED at the sanctuary. The Toronto Zoo Elephants will be at risk of contracting TUBERCULOSIS.
  • 0:24: this transfer is an UNETHICAL ABUSE OF POLITICAL POWER. It is about who has the most money. Celebrityitis. USING OUR ELEPHANTS AS POSTER CHILDREN for the animal rights movement.
  • 0:30: Thika, Iringa and Toka we are sorry
  • 0:35: Sorry that animal rights ideologies and political egos have become more important than your lives
  • 0:40: You have become a cause, poster children for the self proclaimed morally superior animal rights movement
  • 0:45: A pawn for political egos and arrogance and personal gain
  • 0:50: Animal liberation at any cost? At the expense of your lives?
  • 0:55: Toronto City Councillors have denied the truth
  • 1:06: Councillors have chosen their personal extremist dogma, political gain and lies over truth
  • 1:11: Councillors conspired with animal rights organizations to malign our zoo staff, to publicly disparage our zoo
  • 1:16: 6 elephants have died @PAWS in less than 5 years
  • 1:21: 2 deaths claimed as arthritis, Sabu and Rebecca. USDA documents proved they were tuberculosis positive upon necropsy.
  • 1:26: And now your lives will be at risk for tuberculosis
  • 1:31: TUBERCULOSIS KILLS ELEPHANTS
  • 1:36: It is a slow and painful death...
  • 1:41: It systemically eats away at lungs, joints and lymph nodes
  • 1:46: It requires hundreds of pills orally and rectally inserted every day, it causes painful side effects. It is a lifelong disease.
  • 1:51: PAWS has an unknown strain of tuberculosis. It has no match in the GLOBAL DATABASES!
  • 1:56: It killed Rebecca. She gave it to Annie.
  • 2:01: What disease prevention protocols are these?
  • 2:06: Self proclaimed to be the best in the world
  • 2:11: Why wasn't Annie kept safe from this disease?
  • 2:16: The African herd @PAWS lived with the Asians...
  • 2:21: ... for 5 years! With Rebecca who had been treated for tuberculosis in 2002 and then died TB+ in 2011
  • 2:26: There is risk of TB exposure in the African herd @ PAWS
  • 2:31: Toronto Council ignores these facts, ignores the USDA Reports. They choose paid advocacy over truth.
  • 2:36: Sentencing our elephants to death by TUBERCULOSIS
  • 2:41, Annie @PAWS was reactive to statpak tests in 2011
  • 2:46: She still converted to active tuberculosis one year later. She didn't respond to treatments... WHY?
  • 2:51: Council said our elephants would choose this risk...
  • 2:56: If they could speak for themselves, really? Would you choose this risk for yourself? Your loved ones or pets?
  • 3:01: All the proof about TB@PAWS was evidenced by Toronto CITIZENS. Our motive? Justice for Iringa, Toka and Thika.
  • 3:06: PAWS and Zoocheck Canada denied tuberculosis @PAWS
  • 3:11: Denied it for months and months. They knew about their tuberculosis crisis For over a year before they signed a deal with the Toronto Zoo!
  • 3:16: Councillors outright lied to the media, denied tuberculosis
  • 3:21: We are sorry for their egos and arrogance...
  • 3:26: Emails accessed via Freedom of Information prove these councillors colluded with Zoocheck Canada...
  • 3:31: To use the media to attack and blame zoo staff for the delay of this transfer. Zoocheck told them what to say and they said it!
  • 3:36: City Councillors took advantage of public ignorance, what you have not been told. Used our elephants as pawns in their political games.
  • 3:41: Tuberculosis can take a healthy animal like this...
  • 3:46: And turn it into this.
  • 3:58: The National Elephant Centre is a safer alternative
  • 4:04: Say no to tuberculosis. Save the Toronto Zoo elephants
  • 4:08: [TUBERCULOSIS IS NOT FREEDOM] We fought for you, we will continue to fight for truth
  • 4:13: Iringa, Toka and Thika, your roots may be in Africa but your hearts will always be in Canada. We will fight for you.
  • 4:18: [If there is a better solution... find it. - Albert Einstein] Anti-zoo ideologies should not supersede true animal welfare
  • 4:23: [Don't believe the lies]

Other "Truth For Toronto Zoo Elephants" videos:

To learn more about the issue, and how you can help, see the About page.

Thursday, 6 December 2012

Councillor Vows to Fight Transfer of Toronto Zoo Elephants

On 28-Nov-2012, one day after Toronto City Council voted 32-8 to send the three Toronto Zoo elephants to the PAWS facility in California, Councillor Lindsay Luby announced her continuing support of the Toronto Zoo elephants. The following excerpt appeared in the Globe and Mail (28-Nov-2012):

A Toronto city councillor is vowing to do everything she can to stop the transfer of three aging African elephants from the Toronto Zoo to a California sanctuary, fearing their safety could be jeopardized and the zoo could lose standing with a national organization.

“It’s never over till it’s over,” councillor Gloria Lindsay Luby told The Globe and Mail Wednesday. “My heart and soul is in this and I believe in doing the right thing for our animals.”

... The vote came after both the CEO of the Toronto Zoo, John Tracogna, and its top veterinarian presented evidence to council that sending the elephants to the sanctuary would put them at risk of being exposed to tuberculosis.

... On Wednesday, Ms. Lindsay Luby was critical of many of her fellow councillors. “I’m not an expert, nor is anyone on council,” she said. “When you don’t know the details, it’s easy to make a decision.”

At the Toronto City Council meeting on 27-Nov-2012, Toronto Zoo's CEO John Tracogna and senior veterinarian Dr. Graham Crawshaw had stated their concerns, including tuberculosis (TB) and bio-security issues at PAWS.

The Toronto Zoo's Due Diligence Review report indicated that the PAWS facility was not suitable for the three Toronto Zoo elephants and that the TNEC facility in Florida should be considered.

Despite the professional advice of the Toronto Zoo professionals, Toronto City Council decided 32-8 to send the three Toronto Zoo elephants to the PAWS facility.

See: Elephants at Toronto City Council, 27-Nov-2012

Elephants at Toronto City Council, 27-Nov-2012

On 27-Nov-2012, Toronto City Council discussed the Toronto Zoo elephants again -- item EX24.30 Elephant Transfer Status Update.

The discussion can be viewed on Rogers TV: Toronto City Council, 27-Nov-2012. The discussion of EX24.30 starts at time marker 487:10, about 73% into the video, about where the letter "l" is in the title "Council".

The Toronto Zoo's CEO John Tracogna and senior veterinarian Dr. Graham Crawshaw were present and answered questions from the Councillors. The Zoo presented its concerns and stated that it had concluded that the PAWS facility was not suitable. The documents that had been submitted as part of EX24.30 were:

Elephant Transfer Due Diligence Review (20-Nov-2012), with 3 attachments:

  1. Due Diligence Review, with 6 sub-attachments:
    1. PAWS Aerial Site
    2. USDA Reports for “Rebecca” and “Sabu” and PAWS' other elephants
    3. Letter from Dr. Michele Miller, DVM, PhD, Veterinary Advisory to the AZA Elephant Advisory Group
    4. Letter from Dr. Ramiro Isaza, DVM, MS, MPH, DACZM, Associate Professor of Zoological Medicine, University of Florida
    5. Letter from Dr. Ian Duncan, Professor Emeritus, Emeritus Chair in Animal Welfare, University of Guelph
    6. Letter from Dr. Dale Smith, DVM, DVSc, Professor, Ontario Veterinary College, University of Guelph
  2. Letter from Mr. John Lehnhardt, Executive Director, The National Elephant Center
  3. Letter from Mayor Susan Adams, Fellsmere, Florida

Several Councillors were practically verbally attacking the Toronto Zoo staff. While several Councillors stood and spoke in defence of the Toronto Zoo staff and urged Councillors to "do the right thing", including Councillors Ainslie, Grimes, Holyday, Lindsay Luby and Shiner.

In the end, City Council went against the professional advice of the Toronto Zoo professionals and decided by 32-8 to send the Toronto Zoo elephants to PAWS by 31-Dec-2012 or as soon as possible. City Council adopted the following motions:

1. City Council reaffirm its previous decision (MM13.9; October 24-25, 2011) to transfer the Toronto Zoo elephants (Toka, Thika and Iringa) to the Performing Welfare Society (PAWS) sanctuary (in San Andreas, California) on or before December 31, 2012 or as soon as possible and all funding for the move will be paid by PAWS.

2. City Council, having reviewed the due diligence process undertaken by the Toronto Zoo, accept the independent infectious disease report provided by Dr. Susan Cork that PAWS is a safe facility and meets the requirements of the due diligence process.

3. City Council advise the Board of Management of the Toronto Zoo that it considers the due diligence process to be complete and that the three elephants be made available for transport under the coordination of Active Environments including the responsibility for the transportation plan and to be paid for by PAWS.

Even though the Toronto Zoo professionals had concluded in their report that the PAWS facility has a tuberculosis (TB) and bio-security issue, the City Council accepted the disease report provided by Dr. Susan Cork of the University of Calgary. See Dr. Cork's report: part 1, part 2.

City Council saying that due diligence is complete and that everything is fine does not make it fine. There is still an elephant at PAWS with active and infectious tuberculosis, there are still African elephants at PAWS that shared a barn with that elephant, there is still no plan for safe and humane transport to PAWS, and the crate for Toka still does not fit her. Does this sound fine to you? Moving the Toronto Zoo elephants to PAWS is not in the best interest of the elephants. The Toronto Zoo professionals have said to not do it.

In addition to the elephant issue, Councillor De Baeremaeker who is on the Board of Management of the Toronto Zoo moved a motion related to AZA and CAZA accreditation. City Council adopted the following motion:

4. City Council request the Chief Executive Officer, Toronto Zoo to apply for admission to the Canadian Association of Zoos (CAZA) and the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) once both of these organizations demonstrate that their standards of care meet or exceed the standards of care adopted by the Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries (GFAS) and both CAZA and AZA enforce their own guidelines, to the satisfaction of the Toronto Zoo Board.

AZA had already revoked Toronto Zoo's AZA accreditation. And CAZA had already suspended Toronto Zoo's CAZA accreditation, meaning that it was not yet revoked but would be revoked if governance issues were not resolved. Now that City Council voted to move the elephants against the recommendations of the Zoo, there is little doubt that CAZA will revoke its accreditation too. With the above motion and the fact that Councillors Cho and De Baeremaeker have been re-appointed to the Toronto Zoo Board, it may be a very long time, if ever, when the Toronto Zoo regains AZA and CAZA accreditation. Lack of both accreditations will hamper the Zoo's participation in the Species Survival Plan (SSP) conservation efforts. Even if City Council passed this motion as a political statement against AZA and CAZA, City Council may not have fully appreciated the long term consequences of the motion as it would affect the survival of species.

City Council also adopted the following motion regarding the City of Edmonton's Asian elephant Lucy:

5. City Council encourage the City of Edmonton to take immediate action to move its lone, 37-year old Asian elephant Lucy to a warmer climate (as the City of Toronto has decided to do for Iringa, Toka and Thika) and that the City of Edmonton invite independent veterinarians to assist in assessing Lucy's condition and treat her, if necessary, so that she can be sent to one of the two elephant sanctuaries in the United States as soon as possible.

The following day, Edmonton Mayor Stephen Mandel issued a reply. The following excerpt is from Edmonton mayor blasts Toronto over elephant advice:

"It's none of their business what we do in the city of Edmonton," he said. "I don't butt into Toronto's business. I don't appreciate it at all." Mandel said it's "disrespectful" for another city to pass a resolution about what Edmonton should or shouldn't do.

Zoocheck Canada, PAWS's representative in Canada, had unsuccessfully tried earlier to get Lucy moved out of the Edmonton Valley Zoo. The above motion moved by Councillor De Baeremaeker is clearly in support of Zoocheck Canada's efforts. Zoocheck Canada's Campaigns Director was in the audience at the City Council meeting and could be seeing advising Councillors Berardinetti, Cho, De Baeremaeker at various times during the discussions.

Just before the motions were voted on, Councillor Peruzza stood and gave a blatantly anti-zoo speech. He questioned the existence of all zoos. His speech clearly demonstrated that he is either unaware or unappreciative of the Toronto Zoo's Conservation Initiatives and its Research & Veterinary Programs. The Toronto Zoo is far more than a "tourist attraction". See: "Inside Toronto's hidden zoo".

Not only was November 27th a sad day for the future of Toka, Thika and Iringa, it was a sad day for the Toronto Zoo and for zoos everywhere.

From what happened at City Council, one thing is absolutely clear. The Toronto Zoo must move to an independent governance model separate from Toronto City Council. The Toronto Zoo must be operated by a Zoological Society that listens to and appreciates the advice of the Toronto Zoo professionals. See: The Future of Toronto Zoo Governance.

See also: Minutes of Toronto City Council meeting, 27-Nov-2012.

UPDATE: Councillor Vows to Fight Transfer of Toronto Zoo Elephants.

Monday, 26 November 2012

City of Toronto's Executive Committee Meeting, 5-Nov-2012

The following videos are of selected portions of the City of Toronto's Executive Committee Meeting (5-Nov-2012), regarding Item EX24.30 Elephant Transfer Status Update.

To auto-play all videos in order, view playlist. Or click a video below to play that particular video.

Selected Deputations:

















Councillors' Questions to Staff:



Councillors' Speeches and Motions:

See also:

Sunday, 25 November 2012

Wildlife Biologist Sybelle Foxcroft Endorses Toronto Zoo's Decision to Stop Elephant Transfer

Famed activist and wildlife biologist Sybelle Foxcroft endorses the Toronto Zoo in their concerns about bio-security and tuberculosis (TB) issues at PAWS.

Ms. Foxcroft was provided with all the supporting scientific evidence and background research on the matter of the Toronto Zoo elephants. After reviewing a mountain of information, she graciously offered her support in a letter which has been forwarded to Toronto City Council et al.

In her letter, she writes ...

I have had the opportunity to revue all scientific documentation relating to the transfer of Iringa, Thika and Toka, and I agree, without doubt, that Toronto Zoo has solid ground, backed by science, to stop the transfer of their three female African Elephants.

Further in her letter, she writes ...

I personally find that Toronto Zoo is acting in a most highly professional manner and abiding by all disease prevention protocols, along with doing everything in their power to ensure the safety of their precious elephants.

It would be an utter tragedy if these elephants were transferred from Toronto Zoo when the crystal clear scientific facts have not been investigated, viewed or given the opportunity to be presented.

In conclusion, she writes ...

These three elephants are currently safe from disease thanks to the years of dedication and professionalism of the Toronto Zoo. Let’s keep it that way and employ all professionalism, and separate that from emotionally charged opinions.

For the complete text of her letter, see: Letter from Sybelle Foxcroft.

Thanks to Sybelle not only for this letter but for her dedication and commitment to animal welfare worldwide. A rational science based voice fighting for animals in crisis.

See also: www.cee4life.org

Friday, 23 November 2012

City Council to Consider Elephant Transfer Again

The Elephant Transfer issue will be discussed by Toronto City Council at the next City Council meeting on November 27th-28th, 2012.

Toronto Zoo's CEO John Tracogna submitted "Elephant Transfer Due Diligence Review (20-Nov-2012)" documents as part of agenda item EX24.30 Elephant Transfer Status Update.

The summary of the review is:

As requested by the Executive Committee, this report provides the results of the Toronto Zoo's Due Diligence Review of the Performing Animal Welfare Society (PAWS) facility, in relation to the transfer of the Zoo's three African elephants, Toka, Thika and Iringa. Based on the Due Diligence Review, and in the opinion of the Toronto Zoo Senior Veterinarian, the Toronto Zoo CEO concludes that PAWS is not a suitable facility for the three elephants, due to the presence of tuberculosis in the PAWS elephant collection, lack of access to PAWS' current health records, and issues concerning biosecurity measures to prevent the spread of disease at PAWS. Additionally, there is no workable transportation plan currently in place from PAWS, for the safe and humane transport of the elephants.

As requested by the Executive Committee, Toronto Zoo has looked at some options for the relocation of the elephants. Toronto Zoo has made inquiries with the National Elephant Centre (TNEC), a new facility opening in Florida in early spring 2013. TNEC has offered to house the three Toronto Zoo elephants as per the attached letter. Given the choice between a facility with a potential disease risk and one without, the Toronto Zoo would choose the disease free location. Zoo staff will undertake a full review of TNEC and any other potential options and report to the Toronto Zoo Board of Management on a recommended future home for the three elephants.

The documents that the Toronto Zoo's CEO submitted are:

Elephant Transfer Due Diligence Review (20-Nov-2012), with 3 attachments:

  1. Due Diligence Review, with 6 sub-attachments:
    1. PAWS Aerial Site
    2. USDA Reports for “Rebecca” and “Sabu” and PAWS' other elephants
    3. Letter from Dr. Michele Miller, DVM, PhD, Veterinary Advisory to the AZA Elephant Advisory Group
    4. Letter from Dr. Ramiro Isaza, DVM, MS, MPH, DACZM, Associate Professor of Zoological Medicine, University of Florida
    5. Letter from Dr. Ian Duncan, Professor Emeritus, Emeritus Chair in Animal Welfare, University of Guelph
    6. Letter from Dr. Dale Smith, DVM, DVSc, Professor, Ontario Veterinary College, University of Guelph
  2. Letter from Mr. John Lehnhardt, Executive Director, The National Elephant Center
  3. Letter from Mayor Susan Adams, Fellsmere, Florida

The following excerpts appeared in the media:

Toronto Star (22-Nov-2012):

California sanctuary ‘not suitable’ for Toronto’s elephants, zoo’s CEO says

The California sanctuary slated as the next home for the Toronto Zoo’s three remaining elephants “isn’t suitable” because it has a problem with tuberculosis, says the zoo’s CEO in a report set to go before city council next week.

Toronto Sun (22-Nov-2012):

Toronto Zoo says California sanctuary unsafe for its elephants

“There are several significant concerns that lead the Toronto Zoo to conclude PAWS (Performing Animal Welfare Society) is not an acceptable facility for the Toronto Zoo’s elephants,” a due diligence review, conducted by zoo staff and going before city council next week, says.

Thursday, 8 November 2012

City of Toronto Executive Committee Votes to Let Zoo Staff Decide Where Elephants Should Go

The City of Toronto’s Executive Committee met on Monday, November 5th, 2012. On the agenda was item “EX24.30 Elephant Transfer Status Update” to discuss the Toronto Zoo elephants. Over 20 speakers gave deputations. Following deputations, Councillors asked questions to the Toronto Zoo’s CEO John Tracogna. They also asked questions to senior veterinarian Dr. Graham Crawshaw who spoke about the major issues identified in the Elephant Transfer Status. The following newspaper excerpts summarize the meeting.

Toronto Sun (6-Nov-2012):

... A majority of Councillors on the committee, Ford included, approved a motion from Councillor David Shiner ordering the three elephants be moved “as soon as possible” to a facility zoo staff “determine is the best location.”

CityTV (5-Nov-2012):

The committee also requested that the CEO of the Zoo report directly to Council setting out the results of the due diligence review conducted [of] the Performing Animal Welfare Society (PAWS) facility. They also asked the CEO attend City Council meetings to answer questions on that review.

Sun News Network (6-Nov-2012):

"(The elephants) should go to the place that our experts think is best," [Councillor Shiner] said. "The last thing we are, are experts about where these animals should go." Zoo staff will be reporting to council directly on the result of the due diligence review of PAWS and answer any questions for Councillors.

Deputy mayor Doug Holyday said council shouldn't have voted to send the elephants to California in the first place. "I couldn't believe what happened that night, that so many people were stampeded in the wrong direction," he said. ...

"There is overwhelming evidence that there is active (tuberculosis) infection at the PAWS sanctuary," [Ian Duncan, Professor Emeritus], said. "In my opinion, it is completely unethical to send animals that are known to be free from TB to a facility where that infection is known to exist." "I'm an expert in animal welfare and tuberculosis reduces welfare," Duncan added.

See the official minutes of the Executive Committee meeting of Monday, November 5th, 2012.

Videos: Deputations at Executive Committee (5-Nov-2012)

Friday, 19 October 2012

Council Could Make a New Elephant Decision in Next Month

The following are excerpts from Toronto Star. The excerpts are with regards to Toronto City Council's 24-Oct-2011 decision to send the elephants to PAWS.

Toronto Star (18-Oct-2012):
Council Could Make a New Elephant Decision in Next Month
When Toronto City Council meets in two weeks, more than a year will have passed since the 31-4 vote to send the Toronto Zoo’s three elephants to a sanctuary in California. That means the controversial decision could be reversed with only a simple majority vote, not a two-thirds supermajority. ...

In September, the zoo’s senior veterinarian, Graham Crawshaw, told reporters he is concerned about active cases of tuberculosis at the California sanctuary, known as the Performing Animal Welfare Society, or PAWS. The zoo, Crawshaw said, was continuing its “due diligence” probe of PAWS. ...

The zoo board voted at its September meeting to send a report on the status of the transfer to Mayor Rob Ford’s executive committee meeting and then on to council. Councillors may prefer to wait until the report is brought forward in November before they undertake any new vote.
See also: Toronto Zoo Releases Documents About Elephant Issues
See also: City Council to be Asked to Cancel Elephant Move to PAWS
See also: Zoo's Senior Vet Speaks to CBC Metro Morning about Tuberculosis at PAWS

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Executive Committee to Receive Elephant Transfer Status Report

At the 25-Sep-2012 meeting of the Board of Management of the Toronto Zoo, the zoo's CEO John Tracogna and the zoo's senior veterinarian Dr. Graham Crawshaw presented the Elephant Transfer Status report in which four major issues were identified: 1. Permits, 2. Final Transportation Plan, 3. Crates and Training, and 4. Medical and Health Records.

Prior to the presentation, the public gave input.

After lengthy discussion, the Zoo Board passed a motion "That the Board direct the Chief Executive Officer to forward the (September 25, 2012) memorandum on the elephant transfer status to the Executive Committee, for its meeting on October 9, 2012, and thereon to City Council for consideration." See: 2012-09-25 Minutes - Board of Management of the Toronto Zoo.

However, the agenda of the 9-Oct-2012 Executive Committee meeting does not have an item regarding the report. So, it may be at the 5-Nov-2012 meeting when the report is considered.

See also: City Council to be Asked to Cancel Elephant Move to PAWS
See also: Toronto Zoo Releases Documents About Elephant Issues

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Zoo's Senior Vet Speaks to CBC Metro Morning about Tuberculosis

On 26-Sep-2012, Dr. Graham Crawshaw, senior veterinarian at the Toronto Zoo, spoke with Piya Chattopadhyay on CBC Metro Morning regarding tuberculosis at PAWS.

To hear the audio interview, click here.

The Globe and Mail also reported:
Dr. Crawshaw said he is not satisfied PAWS has sufficient quarantine measures in place to protect the Toronto animals. “Based on what I know, I cannot recommend it,” he said about the planned move. -- source: Globe and Mail (25-Sep-2012)
See also: Toronto Zoo Releases Documents About Elephant Issues
See also: Tuberculosis is a Deal-Breaker

Toronto Zoo Releases Documents About Elephant Issues



At a press conference held on 25-Sep-2012 at the Toronto Zoo, the Toronto Zoo released a press package titled "Several Outstanding Items Remain Including Major Health Concerns Regarding the Transfer of the Toronto Zoo Elephants".
CEO John Tracogna and senior veterinarian Dr. Graham Crawshaw identified four major issues:
  1. Permits
  2. Final Transportation Plan
  3. Crates and Training
  4. Medical and Health Records
View the Toronto Zoo's press release for full details about each of these four major issues.

Included in the press package were several supporting documents from 3rd-parties.

See: Toronto Zoo press package, 25-Sep-2012 (includes supporting documents)
See: Toronto Zoo press release, 25-Sep-2012 (on Canada Newswire)

See also: Zoo's Senior Vet Speaks to CBC Metro Morning about Tuberculosis

Public Gave Input at Toronto Zoo Board Meeting

At the meeting of the Board of Management of the Toronto Zoo on 25-Sep-2012, the residents of Toronto were given the opportunity to make deputations. Four speakers were scheduled; however, only Lisa Selby and Peter Cusimano made presentations.

Lisa Selby from Zoos Matter spoke about medical issues, and Peter Cusimano spoke on the issue of due diligence.

City Council to be Asked to Cancel Elephant Move to PAWS

The following is an excerpt from Newstalk 1010:

Next month, when the [Toronto Zoo] board updates the [City Council] executive committee on the status of the move, councillor Giorgio Mammoliti says he will introduce a motion asking council to cancel the move to PAWS altogether. -- source: Newstalk 1010
See also: Toronto Zoo Releases Documents About Elephant Issues

Monday, 24 September 2012

Time to Terminate Agreement with PAWS

The time has come for the Toronto Zoo to terminate its agreement with PAWS. Questions arising from the due diligence process cannot indefinitely remain unsatisfactorily answered.

The Toronto Star is reporting today that "over the past several months, the zoo has accused Zoocheck/PAWS of failing to hand over all the medical records it is seeking. A major concern has been reports of tuberculosis at the U.S. facility."

There are also reports that the Zoo has not signed off on a transportation plan. The plan calls for flying these three elderly elephant for several hours in a cargo plane's cargo bay which is only partially pressurized. It is recommended that the humans wear oxygen masks. Is it safe and humane to fly three elderly elephants in a partially pressurized cargo bay where it is recommended that humans wear oxygen masks?

If the due diligence process cannot be satisfied within a reasonable time then the proper thing to do is for the Toronto Zoo to exercise its legal right to end the agreement to send the elephants to PAWS.

Section 17 of the agreement states:
17. If, as a result of its due diligence review of ARK 2000 and PAWS, the CEO is not satisfied that ARK 2000 and/or PAWS are suitable or financially viable to care for the Elephants, the CEO shall report to the Board and to Toronto City Council of this decision and the reasons therefor. If the CEO's decision is affirmed by the Board and Toronto City Council, the Board may terminate this Agreement upon written notice to PAWS in which event this Agreement shall be null and void and neither party shall have recourse against the other party.
The Toronto Star in its editorial on 29-Aug-2012 stated, "City council made a Jumbo mistake last year when it voted to send three elephants to an unaccredited sanctuary rather than an accredited zoo. In doing so, politicians rejected a decision by the zoo’s board and advice from the zoo’s own experts."

It is time to do the right thing and terminate the agreement and look at alternatives.

See also: Tuberculosis is a Deal-Breaker.
See also: Toronto Zoo Releases Documents About Elephant Issues
Update: Council Could Make a New Elephant Decision in Next Month

Tuberculosis is a Deal-Breaker

Are City councillors listening to the USDA and Toronto Zoo professionals?
The following excerpts are from the Toronto Star:

Toronto Star (24-Sep-2012):
The U.S. Department of Agriculture also found that two other elephants that died at PAWS within the past two years also tested positive for [tuberculosis] TB, according to necropsy reports. -- source: Toronto Star (24-Sep-2012)
Toronto Star (19-Jun-2012):
Like Rebecca, Sabu, an Asian male, also had mycobacterium tuberculosis in his lung tissue. USDA spokesperson David Sacks said Tuesday the agency considers that to mean positive and “infectious’’ cases of [tuberculosis] TB. -- source: Toronto Star (19-Jun-2012)
Toronto Star (14-Jun-2012):
City councillors who support sending the Toronto Zoo's African elephants to the PAWS sanctuary in California insist the three should go despite a lab test this week showing that an elephant at the [PAWS] U.S. facility tested positive for [tuberculosis] TB. -- source: Toronto Star (14-Jun-2012)
Document links:
     -- source: Zoos Matter

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

The Future of Toronto Zoo Governance

Highlights of the Toronto Zoo Board meeting on September 5, 2012:

Video - CTV news coverage:

Click image to play video. News item starts at time marker 3:30.

Official Report:

Click report cover image to view official report:
The Future of Toronto Zoo Governance

Decision Document:

For the offical record of what the Board of Management of the Toronto Zoo decided at the meeting, see:

The Globe and Mail - Shakeup distances zoo from city council:

“We have to take the politics out of this board,” said Toronto Councillor Mark Grimes, describing the involvement of city council in the decision to move the three elephants as a “fiasco.”

     -- source: The Globe and Mail, 5-Sep-2012

Toronto Star - Toronto Zoo board members seek to end city funding:

If approved by the city, the plan will create an oversight body called the Toronto Zoological Society headed by a 24-member board which will include leaders from the corporate world and the community, but no city councilors.

     -- source: Toronto Star, 5-Sep-2012

Scarborough Mirror - Toronto Zoo’s board of directors calls for change to facility’s governance:

Toronto Council forced the zoo to accept transfer of its elephants to a non-accredited California sanctuary after the board decided on sending the animals to another zoo. Dr. Cal Bricker, chairperson of the zoo board’s governance committee, said the episode was a perfect example of people using the board “as a political forum” and creating “a large distraction from doing what we have to do” to improve the zoo and draw in more partnerships and donations. “It’s unclear who runs the zoo” at present...

     -- source: Scarborough Mirror, 7-Sep-2012

Toronto Star - Zoo must go back to future:

"The model that the current zoo board proposes is very similar to the one upon which the zoo was founded in the early 1970s. I was the first membership secretary for the Metropolitan Toronto Zoological Society, a non-profit organization that operated the Metro Toronto Zoo (as it was then called) ..." -- Catherine Brydon.

     -- source: Toronto Star, 10-Sep-2012

Thursday, 30 August 2012

"City Council Made a Jumbo Mistake" - Toronto Star

The following are excerpts from Toronto Star editorials. The excerpts are with regards to Toronto City Council's 24-Oct-2011 decision to send the elephants to PAWS.

Toronto Zoo sale remains worth exploring:
... The other big concern — that council continue to weigh in on animal treatment decisions better left to professionals — is far less defensible. City council made a Jumbo mistake last year when it voted to send three elephants to an unaccredited sanctuary rather than an accredited zoo. In doing so, politicians rejected a decision by the zoo’s board and advice from the zoo’s own experts. That ill-judged move came at the urging of animal rights activists. As a result, the Toronto Zoo was stripped of a prized accreditation issued by the organization that sets standards for most major North American zoos.

When the decision is made whether or not to privatize, maintaining council’s right to meddle shouldn’t be the deciding factor.

     -- source: Toronto Star (29-Aug-2012)

The Toronto Zoo’s departing elephants have squashed its accreditation. Thanks, Bob Barker.:
Toronto City Council made an elephantine mistake last fall and the zoo is suffering the consequences. An international organization [AZA] setting standards for most major North American zoos has stripped the Toronto Zoo of a prized accreditation. And it’s because councillors rejected the advice of the zoo’s expert staff last October [2011] and opted to send three elephants to an unaccredited sanctuary.

... Now the zoo has lost an accreditation it had since 1977. [Councillor] Berardinetti has condemned the AZA for attempting to tell Toronto “what to do with our elephants.” But that’s the organization’s job. Since in its view it is unacceptable to send elephants to an unaccredited facility, the AZA’s action should come as no surprise.

-- source: Toronto Star (20-Apr-2012)

You too can speak out about the elephant decision by signing the petition.

Related post: About (an overview of all the issues)
Related post: The Future of Toronto Zoo Governance (proposed new governance model)
Related post: Speaking Out About the Elephant Decision

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Speaking Out About the Elephant Decision

The following are excerpts from the Toronto Star and from the Brantford Expositor with quotations from Vernon Presley (Toronto Zoo elephant keeper), Peter Evans (former Toronto zoo board member) and Wayne Jackson (former Toronto Zoo elephant keeper). These excerpts are with regards to Toronto City Council's 24-Oct-2011 decision to send the elephants to PAWS.

Toronto Star - Zoo keepers fuming over vote sending elephants to sanctuary (26-Oct-2011):
... “No offence to any city (councillors) that made the decision, but they’re quite honestly not qualified to make a decision on what’s best for these elephants,’’ an angry Vernon Presley, one of seven elephant keepers at the [Toronto] zoo, told the Star.

... Peter Evans, a former [Toronto] zoo board member for 12 years, called council’s decision a “slap in the face’’ to the current board and zoo staff. “The arrogance and lack of respect shown and the disregard for the process, is appalling,’’ Evans said.

     -- source: Toronto Star (26-Oct-2011)

Brantford Expositor - The elephant man weighs in on zoo episode (24-Dec-2011):

Wayne Jackson, former zookeeper at the Toronto Zoo, has worked with more than 100 elephants at several zoos around the world.
... "When it comes to such things as zoo animals, it should be the professionals at that particular institution that makes the decision on a particular animal, not someone who really knows nothing about the species or particular animal," said [Wayne] Jackson in his correspondence on [9-Nov-2011 to Mayor Ford].

     -- source: Brantford Expositor (24-Dec-2011)

Global News - Elephant Keeper Speaks Out (Nov-2011)
Elephant Keeper Speaks Out (video);
Vernon Presley, and Councillor and Vice-Chair Paul Ainslie.

     -- source: Global News (Nov-2011)

You too can speak out about the elephant decision by signing the petition.

Friday, 17 August 2012

Zoo's elephant move 'futile:' Lindsay Luby

The following are excerpts from The Globe and Mail and from Toronto Sun with quotations from Toronto City Councillor and Toronto Zoo Board member Gloria Lindsay Luby regarding the Toronto Zoo elephants:

Losing elephants could cost zoo its accreditation (18-Nov-2011)
... the elephant decision [i.e.: Toronto City Council's 24-Oct-2011 decision to send the elephants to PAWS] rankled a few veteran zoo board members. “I was thoroughly disgusted,” said Councillor Gloria Lindsay Luby. “This motion usurped the board’s decision-making process. If you’re going to keep doing that, what’s the point of a zoo board? It’s sneaky, it’s unprecedented and not worthy of council.”

       -- The Globe and Mail, 18-Nov-2011
Toronto elephants get more support (26-Apr-2012)
Board member, Councillor Gloria Lindsay Luby, said sending the elephants to PAWS “was the wrong decision” and “now, I just have to be certain we’re not sending them into something they’re going to get sick in and will shorten their life-span” since “because they’re not an accredited institution, they don’t really have any accountability.”

       -- Toronto Sun, 26-Apr-2012
Zoo's elephant move 'futile:' Lindsay Luby (2-May-2012)
“This whole exercise we are going through has cost us time and money, staff time, the board’s time,” Lindsay Luby said Wednesday. “We’re not saving any money by sending them, I think that has been pretty clear so what are we getting out of it? Nothing, we’re losing three elephants.”

Lindsay Luby said the actual cost of providing food and lodging for the elephants at the Toronto Zoo is quite small and there will be no saving in staff costs once the elephants are gone because those that care for the pachyderms will be redeployed elsewhere in the zoo.

... Lindsay Luby called the entire elephant affair an “exercise in futility for all concerned.”

... “It’s not a matter of Councillor Berardinetti being happy … it’s a matter of the vets being happy, they are the people with the expertise,” she said.

       -- Toronto Sun, 2-May-2012

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Toronto Zoo Elephant Keeper Talk

Each day at 12:00pm noon at the Toronto Zoo, you can meet the elephant keepers for informative talks.

The first and second videos below show the elephant keeper doing various exercises with Thika the elephant. In the third video below, Toka was eating some hay while the elephant keeper was answering questions. Sometimes when the elephant keeper gives their talk, the elephants are still inside the elephant house. The fourth video below shows just the elephant keeper giving her educational talk; the elephants came outside several minutes after she had finished answering questions.

The elephants used to have exercise sessions twice a day plus individual walks around the back paddock for about 20-30 minutes. Since crate training, the elephants are exercised once a day, sometimes outside, due to time constraints. The elephants are asked to do the exercises by the keeper using positive re-enforcement.

Video of Elephant Keepers with Thika: (10 minute video)


Video of Elephant Keeper with Thika doing exercises: (2 minute video)


Video of Toka while Elephant Keeper answeres Questions: (2 minute video)


Video of Elephant Keeper (no elephant): (3 minute video)


More: Ele Training 101 (3 short videos; 3 minutes total)

Before visiting the zoo, read the "African elephant" page to learn all about elephants.

Also read "Getting to Know Toka, Thika and Iringa" to learn more about the Toronto Zoo's three female African elephants and how to identify each one.

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

Getting to Know Toka, Thika and Iringa

Toka:
Toka is a 42 year-old female African Bush elephant. She was born in the wild of Mozambique in 1970. In Sep-1974, she arrived at the Toronto Zoo.

Iringa: (shown in photo at left)
Iringa is a 43 year-old female African Bush elephant. She was born in the wild of Mozambique in 1969. In Nov-1974, she arrived at the Toronto Zoo.

About the name Iringa: The name is derived from the Hehe word lilinga, meaning "fort". There is a city and region in Tanzania named Iringa.

Thika:
Thika is a 32 year-old female African Bush elephant. She was born on 18-Oct-1980 at the Toronto Zoo to parents Tantor(M) and Tequila(F). Thika was the first African elephant born in Canada and the 4th born in North America.

About the name Thika: There are two explanations for the name Thika (pronounced "Thee-ka"; "Thee" as in Theo and Thea). One has its origin in the Kikuyu word Guthika, meaning "to bury". The other explanation comes from the Maasai word Sika meaning "rubbing something off an edge". There is an industrial town in Central Province, Kenya named Thika.


How to Tell the Elephants Apart:

Click photos to enlarge.

Toka has the long tusks, with left tusk that is broken (shorter than right tusk). She also has a small hole in her left ear. See: Video of Toka.

Iringa is very easy, she has a large rip in her right ear and short stubby tusks. See: Video of Iringa.

The one without these characteristics would be Thika, who is leaner and taller as well. In comparison to Iringa, Thika has longer tusks and hair on her tail, plus she's taller! See: Video of Thika.

    -- source: ZooChat.com

Note from a Toronto Zoo elephant keeper:
Toka’s enthusiasm is enough to snap any person out of a bad mood, she is eager to please and an amazing elephant to work with.

Iringa is incredibly smart, and has an unwavering faith in us. That faith is a testament to this elephant program that I have been fortunate enough to be a part of.

Thika… well, Thika is a brat… and is the favourite of many keepers because of this.

    -- source: ZooChat.com

Thika's Birth Announcement (18-Oct-1980, 6:40pm):

Birth Announcement of African elephant Thika  (18-Oct-1980, 6:40pm), Toronto Zoo
Announcing the arrival of Thika, the Toronto Sun, October 27, 1980.
    --source: Torontoist.com

Coincidentally, Pierre Elliott Trudeau, 15th Prime Minister of Canada, was born on October 18, 1919.


Read the About page for an overview of the saga that the Toronto Zoo elephants are going through. Go to About page.


Friday, 27 July 2012

Email Exchanges with Toronto Zoo Board of Management, 27-Jul-2012

The Board of Management of the Toronto Zoo had a meeting on July 5, 2012. In advance of the meeting I made a written submission to express my concerns about the elephants.

The Chairman did not let me speak at the meeting claiming technical issues, notwithstanding that under the Toronto Zoo's By-laws there is discretion to permit deputants to speak at the meeting and make submissions.

Prior to and after the meeting, I had several email exchanges with Joe Torzsok, Chair of the Toronto Zoo Board of Management, and with the Committee Administrator.

Click here to read the email exchanges. [Updated: 27-Jul-2012]

Important questions still remain unanswered.

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

About

In a "nutshell", Toronto Zoo decided to close the elephant exhibit. Then Toronto City Council (not Toronto Zoo) decided to send the elephants to PAWS in California. After checking it out, Toronto Zoo found that PAWS has tuberculosis ("TB") issues and the Toronto Zoo elephants may get TB if they go there. The Toronto Zoo elephants do not have TB. Treating TB involves quarantine and about 100 pills per day taken rectally -- yes, that end. So why risk sending them there? There are other places to send the Toronto Zoo elephants. One place is The National Elephant Center (TNEC) in Florida which opens Spring 2013 and is closer. Contact your Toronto City Councillor and ask that City Council listen to the Toronto Zoo's trained professionals and let Toronto Zoo make the animal care decisions.

An overview:

  • SaveTheElephants.ca is citizens advocating to: (a) keep the three elephants at the Toronto Zoo, and (b) in the alternative, have them moved to an AZA-accredited facility such as The National Elephant Center (TNEC) in Florida.

  • The Toronto Zoo has three female African elephants. The three elephants are approximately aged 32 years, 42 years and 43 years and are being well taken care of by the trained professionals at the Toronto Zoo. Average elephant lifespan is 40-60 years.

  • In May 2011, the Toronto Zoo announced that it would close the elephant exhibit. A study showed that it would have taken $16.5 million to renovate and triple the size of the elephant area. And since elephants are social, three is the recommended minimum herd size (although some zoos have less than three). If one of the senior elephants were to pass away, there would probably be a request put forth to move out the other two elephants or to acquire one or more elephants (possible but probably not likely without the renovation).

  • The Toronto Zoo and the Toronto Zoo's Board of Management started the lengthy process of exploring the various options of where to send the three elephants. A decision was anticipated around the end of 2011.

  • In October 2011 (about two months away from a decision), Toronto City Council took less than 1 hour to decide to pass an urgent motion without notice to send the three Toronto Zoo elephants to a place in California called "Performing Animal Welfare Society (PAWS)"; however, PAWS is not accredited by the nationally recognized Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). When council passed the motion, it took the decision out of the hands of the trained professionals at the Toronto Zoo. Subsequently, the AZA revoked Toronto Zoo's long-standing AZA accreditation because of governance issues.

  • Even as of October 2012, the lengthy due diligence process is still being carried out to ensure that the elephants are safely and humanely transported. Due diligence is not an administrative process of simply filing out paperwork. It includes, but is not limited to, examining the procedures and protocols and animal health records of PAWS. If questions remain from the due diligence process, the agreement to transfer the elephants to PAWS can and should be terminated. See:

    • "Several Outstanding Items Remain Including Major Health Concerns Regarding the Transfer of the Toronto Zoo Elephants", Toronto Zoo, 25-Sep-2012

      1. Transportation Plan: PAWS is responsible for transporting the elephants. There currently is no transportation plan in place. PAWS originally wanted to fly the elephants in a partially pressurized cargo bay. PAWS finally agreed that was not safe for the elephants or for the zoo's accompanying personnel.

      2. Crates and Training: Toka's steel transport crate is too small. The door cannot close behind her. And there have been setbacks training Iringa to use a crate. Crate training requires patience and trust. During transport, the elephants will be chained inside their crates by three legs for the entire trip.

      3. Medical and Health Records: There is tuberculosis (TB) at PAWS. Toronto Zoo's senior veterinarian Dr. Crawshaw (30+ years experience) has concerns about the bio-security at PAWS. Imagine if you were sending a loved one to a retirement home where there are active cases of an infectious disease; wouldn't you be concerned?

      4. Permits: There were delays in PAWS supplying the USA import permits which expired 1-Oct-2012. An extension on the import permits will likely be required while the Canadian export permits are being prepared by Environment Canada.

  • Toronto Zoo Board member, Councillor Gloria Lindsay Luby, said deciding to send the elephants to PAWS “was the wrong decision” and “now, I just have to be certain we’re not sending them into something they’re going to get sick in and will shorten their life-span” since “because they’re not an accredited institution, they don’t really have any accountability.” (source: Toronto Sun, 26-Apr-2012)

  • As of October 2012, PAWS is asking for a deadline to be set and ensure there are no further obstructions and delays. Keep in mind that the delays can be primarily attributed to factors under the responsibility of PAWS. Where's the transportation plan from PAWS? Where are the permits? Where's the bigger crate for Toka? Where are PAWS's answers to the health concerns? And if a deadline is set and the elephants are not ready on that date, would you shove the elephants into the crates kicking and screaming? Of course not. Is it going to be claimed that "the Toronto Zoo is delaying yet again"? A safe and humane transfer can only be done when the elephants are ready.

  • On 26-Oct-2012, a Toronto Zoo press release stated that the Toronto Zoo has received a letter from PAWS's American attorneys threatening legal action against the Toronto Zoo and certain individuals arising from a Status Report update in September.

  • On 5-Nov-2012, the City of Toronto's Executive Committee passed a motion ordering the three elephants be moved “as soon as possible” to a facility zoo staff “determine is the best location.” This motion is significant and takes things in a positive direction. See: Summary of committee meeting.

  • On 27-Nov-2012, Toronto City Council discussed the elephants again. Despite the professional advice of the Toronto Zoo professionals, Toronto City Council decided 32-8 to send the three Toronto Zoo elephants to the PAWS facility. See: Summary of Council meeting.

  • After you consider all the facts, you have to conclude that the professionals at the Toronto Zoo really are looking out for the well-being of these elephants. It's time that this entire elephant transfer be reconsidered. It's about the health and safety of the elephants. Always has been. Always will be.

  • The National Elephant Center (TNEC) in Florida and other AZA-accredited facilities should be considered. See Toronto Star: "Zoo's elephants: Could another retirement option be Florida?"

For additional information, see:

For latest updates and more information, see the home page.

Email Exchanges with Toronto Zoo Board of Management

The Board of Management of the Toronto Zoo had a meeting on July 5, 2012. In advance of the meeting I made a written submission to express my concerns about the elephants.

The Chairman did not let me speak at the meeting claiming technical issues, notwithstanding that under the Toronto Zoo's By-laws there is discretion to permit deputants to speak at the meeting and make submissions.

Prior to and after the meeting, I had several email exchanges with Joe Torzsok, Chair of the Toronto Zoo Board of Management, and with the Committee Administrator.

Click here to read the email exchanges. [Updated: 26-Jul-2012]

Friday, 6 July 2012

URGENT: Make Your Submissions to Council Today

Let Toronto City Council know your thoughts.

If you wish to be heard at the July 11/12, 2012 Toronto City Council meeting, you must submit a written submission (verbal presentations won’t be allowed). As such you can send a written submission to the City Clerk.

Here is a sample email that you can send:

To: clerk@toronto.ca
CC: mayor_ford@toronto.ca
Subject: Written Submission regarding anticipated Motion re Toronto Elephants

I understand that Councillor Berardinetti or another Councillor may be bringing a motion to Council at the July 11/12 meeting in regards to the Toronto elephants.

In the event that Ms. Berardinetti or another Councillor brings such a motion without notice or on an urgent basis, then I would like to have the attached written submission distributed to all the Councillors for their consideration of such motion.

Please see attachment.

Please confirm receipt.

If you have any written materials, attach them to your email. If not, then attach (or type in the email directly) a bullet list of your thoughts.

Send your email to clerk@toronto.ca and copy to Mayor Ford (cc: mayor_ford@toronto.ca) and also copy to your local Councillor. See: contact information (scroll down the page).

Related: Is an Urgent Motion Without Notice Planned?

Is an Urgent Motion Without Notice Planned?

Is an urgent motion without notice planned for the July 2012 Toronto City Council meeting?

  • InsideToronto.com: "Tug of war over Toronto Zoo elephants continues", 20-Jun-2012
    "Should the zoo management find reason to keep the elephants in Toronto, the two councillors [Scarborough councillors Glenn De Baeremaeker and Michelle Berardinetti] said they're preparing a motion for the July meeting of Toronto Council to ensure that the transfer goes ahead."
  • Toronto Sun: "Berardinetti asks council to approve summer elephant transfer", 5-Jul-2012
    "Councillor Michelle Berardinetti said she will be asking councillors at their July meeting to lock in the transfer of the elephants to a California sanctuary this summer."
  • Agenda of City Council Meeting, July 11-12, 2012
  • However, the Agenda for the July 11-12, 2012 Toronto City Council meeting does not appear to contain any motion in regards to the Elephants. It is unclear whether Councillor Berardinetti or Councillor Baeremaeker or another Councillor may propose an urgent motion without notice as was done on October 25, 2011.

    Related: URGENT: Make Your Submissions to Council Today