Bob Barker—yes, that Bob Barker—joins calls for a pachyderm-free Toronto

Bob Barker—yes, that Bob Barker—joins calls for a pachyderm-free Toronto

(Image: fireballk2588) 

As anyone who watched The Price is Right back in the day knows, Bob Barker is a bit of an animal rights nut. It’s why every episode ended with him asking viewers to spay or neuter their animals, and it’s why he gave the anti-whaling group Sea Shepherd $5 million last year. His latest target is neither pet genitals nor harpoons, but the Toronto Zoo, where a rash of elephant deaths has the zoo reconsidering whether to keep elephants this far north anymore. The Toronto Star has a transcript of their interview with Barker, in which he says he’s got nothing but love for Canada. Still, he had some harsh words for the zoo:

Barker: It was never intended for elephants to be in such cold weather. And in captivity, the biggest cause of death for elephants is foot problems. They develop foot problems, and they become infected; that infection spreads all over their body, and they die, die much earlier than they would in the wild.

Star: There is a councillor who is pushing for the elephants to be moved to California, but the zoo hasn’t agreed.

Barker: Well, that one councillor should be listened to. Is it a man or a woman?

Star: A woman. [According to another Star story, it’s Don Valley East councillor Shelley Carroll.]

Barker: Well, that lady probably knows a lot more about elephants than anybody else on the council. And as a person who is willing to step forward in the face of opposition, she is courageous as well as intelligent, and God bless her. If you speak with that councilwoman, please tell her that she’s my heroine. I love her.

We’re not sure, but it sounds like Carroll just won today’s contest for coolest councillor—but only if she can spin a giant wheel and get close to one dollar without going over. The Toronto Zoo, meanwhile, has a dilemma ahead of it: hang on to the elephants with the potential bad publicity they could bring, or send them somewhere warmer and more spacious than their enclosure at the zoo.

One idle thought: if Toronto is still scheduled to get pandas next year could they be housed in a (presumably refurbished) empty elephant pen? It might be one way to cut the $11 million cost of the panda exhibit.

• What the Elephants Know: can a one-hectare habitat in the middle of a northern city be any kind of home for exotic animals with complex thoughts and feelings? [Toronto Life]
‘Get all the elephants out of Canada’: Bob Barker [Toronto Star]
What should Toronto Zoo do with its elephants? [Toronto Star]