Bob Barker gets his wish: Toronto Zoo sends pachyderms packing

Bob Barker gets his wish: Toronto Zoo sends pachyderms packing

Three elephants neither at the Toronto Zoo nor in Quebec (Image: Nils Rinaldi)

On Thursday, the board of directors of the Toronto Zoo voted to send three elephants south after former Price is Right host Bob Barker and zoo watchdog group Zoocheck lobbied heavily for the African Bush elephants to be relocated somewhere more akin to their natural habitat. When the news broke, it appeared the three females—Toka, Thika and Iringa—were destined to escape Ontario’s winter blahs for California’s sunny shores (apparently, even Canadian elephants move to the southern U.S. when they retire). But now it looks like the elephants will actually be heading north to the Granby Zoo in Quebec, where the winters are just as cold but the facility is accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums.

While the move is largely informed by a concerned for the animals well-being—hence the decision not to send them to a non-certified facility in San Andreascash also had a little something to do with it. From the Toronto Sun:

The board voted down the option of an elephant sanctuary in Tennessee or California for fear of mistreatment of the animals.

Five of seven members preferred a facility that is accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) after realizing the board doesn’t have the money to build the new enclosure or afford the animals’ $1-million annual upkeep bill.

So, the elephants are going somewhere nicer (sort of?) and the zoo is cutting costs, much to elephant-loving councillor and former budget chief Shelley Carroll’s pleasure. Also, now that a few extra bucks are kicking around, we assume the zoo’s new Chinese overlords—pandas, which could arrive by 2012—will see a funding spike, this time, much to Giorgio Mammoliti’s pleasure.

Zoo elephants to pack trunks [Toronto Sun]
Elephants to retire south, zoo board decides [Globe and Mail]
Toronto Zoo to cancel elephant program [CBC]