Good news for animals just kept pouring out of Toronto yesterday. First, the city council passed a much-debated ban of shark fin products. Then, it was decided that the elephants currently living at the Toronto Zoo will be sent to live permanently at a sanctuary.
The Toronto Zoo’s three elephants (Toka, Thika and Iringa) are aging and their fate has been a topic of heated debate for months, with animal activists arguing that they should be removed from the zoo. Bob Barker, constant advocate for animals, has been among those speaking up. According to the Huffington Post, Barker argued that Toronto is too cold for the elephants and that they should be relocated to a warmer climate and a facility that would provide them with more open space.
The zoo board decided to close the exhibit and find a new location for the elephants, originally planned to be a zoo in the United States accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. However, since they could have ended up in another cold region, that plan was changed. Last night, the City Council determined that the animals will be sent to the Performing Animals Welfare Society (PAWS) in California, with a vote of 31-4. PAWS describes their sanctuaries as “places where abandoned, abused, or retired performing animals and victims of the exotic animal trade can live in peace and dignity.”
According to The Star, Councillor Michelle Berardinetti said before the vote, “The sanctuary has 80 acres for these elephants to finally roam free…We need them to send them to the PAWS sanctuary, that’s what we need to do, at this time, on this council, today.” There was opposition too though, including Coucillor Paul Ainslie, who referred to the campaign as “inappropriate” and “fear mongering.”
It remains unclear exactly when the elephants will be moving in at PAWS, but soon it’s goodbye zoo, and hello peace and sanctuary for Toka, Thika and Iringa!