Councillors to tour California elephant sanctuary
Published Thursday, May 3, 2012 8:23PM EDT
Two councillors and zoo officials will travel to a California elephant sanctuary in an effort to re-start the stalled process of moving three elephants from their current home in the Toronto Zoo.
Toronto council voted last October to move three elephants from the Toronto Zoo to a Performing Animal Welfare Society (PAWS) sanctuary in California where they will have a warmer climate and more room to roam.
The Price Is Right host and animal activist Bob Barker said he will pay to send the elephants down south.
But the process has been stalled as Toronto Zoo officials ask for more medical documentation than was initially agreed upon.
"There is always a risk, putting elephants that have never left the zoo into containers and flying them, or by land or air, there's always a risk," said Toronto Zoo CEO John Tracogna.
During a meeting Thursday, Councs. Giorgio Mammoliti and Michelle Berardinetti decided they should go to the sanctuary with zoo officials and the zoo CEO and a zoo veterinarian.
"It is important, for a lot of reasons, for us to go down," Mammoliti said. "To take a look at the facility and to have some of those questions answered in their own boardroom."
Berardinetti, the councillor liaising with PAWS, said lawyers for the two sides need to speak face-to-face and get the documents sorted out.
PAWS representative Julie Woodyer said the in-person meeting was a "positive move."
"I am optimistic that we can get through the very small issues that are outstanding here," Woodyer said.
Both councillors will pay for their own flights, while flights for the two zoo officials will come from the zoo budget.
If all goes according to plans, the trip will happen next week and the elephants could be shipped and in their new home by the end of June.
With files from CTV Toronto's Natalie Johnson