Oct 17, 2013
By Jane Brown
Thika, Toka and Iringa leave on a trip for the PAWS animal sanctuary in California today. The three remaining Toronto Zoo elephants will be accompanied by Toronto Zoo staff until they get to the U.S. border crossing. But after that, zookeeper’s union spokesman Matthew Berridge says there’s a problem. “Our keepers are able to follow the convoy to the border,” he expains, “then at the border they ask that our keepers sign a disclosure agreement.” He says the non-disclosure agreement promises they won’t reveal anything about what might happen on the U.S. portion of the trip.
Zoocheck Canada’s Julie Woodyer says it’s not necessary for the zookeepers to continue on the trip to California because two veterinarians and four elephant handlers are being brought in to accompany and monitor the animals until they arrive at the animal sanctuary. Toronto City Council voted in 2011 to send the elephants to the U.S. facility after facing pressure from animal rights activists to make the move. Among them is former TV game show host Bob Barker, who is concerned the aging animals don’t adapt well to cold weather and the concrete floor of their enclosure is hard on the feet. 89 year old Barker has also promised to pay for the elephants’ trip to California.