It’s now just over two years (May 12th, 2011) since the board of the Toronto Zoo – and then the city council – ruled that the three elephants at the zoo should be released to the care of a sanctuary. Two years of stalling and prevaricating.
Every time they get the green light, yet another red light pops up as the zoo industry tries to stop the move. Here’s the latest:
Two months ago, the Royal Canadian Air Force agreed to transport Toka, Thika and Iringa to their new home at the Performing Animal Welfare Sanctuary (PAWS) in California. Famed animal protector and former host of The Price Is Right Bob Barker had agreed to pay all the expenses of the flight. The Toronto Star wrote: “Once the expected approval [from the Defense Minister] comes through, Operation Dumbo Drop will swing into action and the elephants will be moved almost immediately.”
Perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised that they’re still at the zoo. According to the Defense Department:
We have been unable to resolve issues to allow for their move before the summer weather. We will continue negotiations with the City of Toronto but the earliest they could move would be the fall. These are discussions only, and no final decision has been made.
The zoo has passed all responsibility for the move over to the animal protection organization Zoocheck, which acknowledges that once summer weather arrives, the elephants can’t be moved until fall. Julie Woodyer, a Zoocheck director, told the Star that the Defense Department wanted the group to insure the plane, which she called “unrealistic.”
The other option, she said, is to move the elephants by truck. It’s a long ride, and the elephants already have foot troubles after so many years of standing around at the zoo. But the alternative, if they’re not moved, is yet more time spent standing around at the zoo.