The Toronto Zoo has had its international accreditation restored nearly four years after a controversial decision to move three aging elephants to an animal sanctuary in California.

The zoo says its status was restored after it underwent a thorough review to ensure it meets the standards in animal care, veterinary programs, conservation, education, and safety.

The Association of Zoos and Aquariums says the accreditation means the zoo will now be able to participate in education programs and online forums available to all 233 members of its members, as well as loan animals from other institutions.

The zoo lost its status in 2012 after Toronto City Hall decided to move three African elephants to a Performing Animal Welfare Society sanctuary in California against the recommendation of the zoo staff and management who wanted the animals to go to an accredited facility.

Bob Barker, the retired host of "The Price is Right," paid for the transfer of the animals to the sanctuary.

One of the elephants -- Iringa -- died last summer from a degenerative joint and foot disease. The other two -- Toka and Thika -- remain at the PAWS facility.