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:
- Toronto City Council's motions regarding EX24.30
- Toronto Zoo's Elephant Transfer Due Diligence Review (2012-11-18); part 1, part 2
- Councillor Berardinetti's submission containing report from Dr. S. Cork and Dr. D. Abraham
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:
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.
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.
Thanked Toronto Zoo staff for their work in support of the Zoo.
Requested Toronto Zoo staff to not consider resigning over this issue.
See: Toronto elephants on track for April departure, Toronto Sun (18-Dec-2012)