The Association of Zoos & Aquariums is in shock. A big zoo is doing the unthinkable, challenging the authority of the AZA, and setting out to do what’s right for the animals.
The Toronto Zoo, working with the animal protection group ZooCheck, has decided to send its three elephants to the California sanctuary PAWS, where they’ll have a better life in a warmer climate, even though it means the zoo will lose a big crowd pleaser.
The suits at the AZA are angry. They wanted Toka, Thika and Iringa to go to another zoo, not a sanctuary. They argued that PAWS is not “accredited” by them. In fact, PAWS is considered one of the best homes imaginable for elephants being released from captivity. The real story is that the AZA is losing control.
It’s been a long haul for the elephants. In April, Bob Barker paid a visit to Toronto to host a press conference and lobby for the move. In October, the zoo’s board gave the move a thumbs-up. And in October, the city council approved the move 31-4.
What’s the AZA’s real concern? The fact is keeping elephants in zoos is on the way out. And Toronto’s decision is a big step forward.