elephants

The Informer

Random Stuff

Comments

Toronto’s three lady elephants are moving to California in a month (for real this time)

Finally, after years of bickering and delays, Toronto’s prolonged pachyderm saga is drawing to a close. Shortly after Thanksgiving, the Toronto Zoo’s biggest, wrinkliest residents, Toka, Iringa and Thika, will embark on an epic, 50-hour road trip to their new home at an animal sanctuary in California. Former Price Is Right host and animal lover Bob Barker is, as promised, funding the trio’s transport, even though his preferred plan to fly them via either a military plane or a Russian cargo jet fell through. The elephants will, however, be able to soothe their aching post-journey muscles in a therapeutic Jacuzzi once they get set up in their west coast digs. Sounds awfully nice. [Global]

The Informer

Random Stuff

4 Comments

The Toronto Zoo’s elephants won’t fly until August (at the earliest)

An easier way to fly an elephant (Image: ckramer)

For a moment, it looked as though the Toronto Zoo’s three elephants would (at long last) fly out to the PAWS sanctuary in California later this month. But it turns out, no, the zoo is still conducting a due diligence review of PAWS amid continuing debate about the presence of tuberculosis at the sanctuary. While some councillors, including Glenn De Baeremaeker and Michelle Berardinetti are optimistic Iringa, Toka and Thika will be airborne by August, we won’t believe it until the elephants are at cruising altitude, eating their in-flight peanuts. Or, more accurately, chained inside crates in their Soviet-designed cargo plane. [Toronto Star]

The Informer

Random Stuff

41 Comments

Bob Barker and Giorgio Mammoliti face off in the Toronto Zoo elephant saga

(Image: John Vetterli)

The Price Is Right icon Bob Barker is riled up (but not this riled up, thank goodness) that Toronto Zoo management is delaying sending its remaining three elephants to his sanctuary of choice. The animal lover is threatening to withdraw his offer to pay for the elephants’ $800,000 flight to California (via private aircraft, no less) unless there’s an “ironclad guarantee” that they’ll make it to the Performing Animal Welfare Society (PAWS) sanctuary, near Sacramento. Problem is, talks between Toronto Zoo chief executive John Tracogna and PAWS director Ed Stewart have gone so badly that they now only speak to each other via lawyers, and zoo staff have waged a campaign against PAWS, claiming elephants there have tuberculosis. Then there’s Giorgio Mammoliti, the former chair of Toronto Zoo’s board, who has tried to stop the deal since the zoo allegedly lost its accreditation over the plan to send the elephants to PAWS, which doesn’t have the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ stamp of approval. Trying to salvage the deal, Councillor Michelle Berardinetti, who orchestrated the vote last October when council decided to move the elephants, has challenged Mammoliti and Tracogna to go to PAWS with her next week to check it out—but we doubt Barker would cover the airfare for that trip. [Toronto Star]

The Informer

Random Stuff

4 Comments

Toronto Zoo loses its accreditation and Rob Ford loses his cool

Thika, Iringa or Toka—we still haven’t figured out how to tell them apart (Image: Phil Marion)

We’ve been following the saga of the Toronto Zoo’s efforts to relocate its trio of elephant dames for months, but things just got serious (even more serious than Bob Barker’s offer of a private aircraft). The Association of Zoos and Aquariums has taken away the zoo’s accreditation, apparently because city council voted to send Iringa, Thika and Toka to a California sanctuary not recognized by that illustrious body. Without the AZA’s stamp of approval, the zoo can’t take part in species survival programs. Plus, exchange programs with accredited zoos must be assessed on a case-by-case basis (don’t worry, though—the giant panda visit is still a go). Rob Ford took the opportunity to deliver some political jabs, unleashing what sounded like several weeks of pent-up anger at council, whose vote to send the elephants to the sanctuary had overturned recommendations by zoo staff. “Council sometimes thinks they know better, and this is a perfect example of when they don’t know better,” he told reporters. No prizes for divining what other examples he may be thinking of. [Globe and Mail]

The Informer

Random Stuff

Comments

Bob Barker offers $880,000 for Toronto elephants to fly private

(Image: fireballk2588)

The estimated cost to Bob Barker to charter a private plane and bring Toronto Zoo’s trio of elephants to a California sanctuary: $880,000. The one-time The Price Is Right host and all-time sweetheart is making good on his offer to cover airfare for the Zoo’s much-talked-about elephants. Apparently, Iringa, Thika and Toka will travel by private jet because Iringa has a bad foot, ruling out a long-haul road trip. And you didn’t expect them to fly coach, did you? Read the entire story [Globe and Mail] »

The Informer

Random Stuff

Comments

Toronto Zoo’s elephants could be guzzling Gatorade on their way to a hot tub party in Cali

With the Toronto Zoo’s three remaining elephants—the all-female trio of Toka, Iringa and Thika—ready to depart for a warmer locale, the Toronto Star offers a look at what the Detroit Zoo did to move two of its own animals to the PAWS sanctuary in California (to which we say, Detroit? Really?). Apparently, the pair of pachyderms was loaded onto a truck equipped with remote cameras and thermometers that enabled zoo staff to monitor the animals and keep tabs on the temperature. Also, the truck contained a healthy supply of Gatorade—the elephants need to be properly hydrated in time to hit the Jacuzzi, after all. Read the entire story [Toronto Star] »

(Images: hot tub, Jeannine Cousin; elephants, Thierry)

The Informer

Random Stuff

3 Comments

Bob Barker says he’ll pay for Toronto elephants’ air fare (and spa day)

Former Price Is Right host and long-time animal lover Bob Barker is going to pay to fly the Toronto Zoo’s three elephants to a California sanctuary that, apparently, boasts super-luxe amenities, like therapeutic Jacuzzis (no, really). The elephants’ long, complicated and often controversial story looks like it will finally come to a close—hot tub party anybody? Read the entire story [Globe and Mail] »

(Images: hot tub, Jeannine Cousin; elephants, Thierry)

The Informer

Random Stuff

3 Comments

Apparently moving a bunch of elephants is difficult 

Turns out that sending the Toronto Zoo’s elephants to balmier climes is tricky business. The Globe and Mail reports the zoo could lose its accreditation if it sends the pachyderms to an elephant sanctuary in California. Over the last few months the three elephants have proven to be something of a political hot potato: first, the zoo board said in May that the best place for them was another certified zoo; then a motion from councillor Michelle Berardinetti in October asked to send them to a Bob Barker–approved sanctuary instead (effectively undermining the zoo board in the process); now, a staff report says the animals should be sent to a certified Florida facility. The fight will likely continue when the zoo board meets again on Thursday. Read the entire story [Globe and Mail] »

The Informer

Features

11 Comments

Six reasons the International India Film Academy Awards are in Toronto

If you encounter more than the usual number of bhangra dancers on the streets this month, that’s because the International Indian Film Academy Awards are taking over the Rogers Centre on June 25. The gala will be watched by 600 million people in 60 countries and do more to raise Toronto’s profile than several G20 weekends. Forty thousand tourists will descend on the city’s hotels, and in the background, government and business officials will meet to build trade ties between Ontario and India. Infinitely more exciting are the many Indian movie stars who’ll be here, strolling in and out of the Thompson Hotel, signing autographs and, if we’re lucky, travelling the streets by elephant. Here, a primer to all things Bollywood in Toronto.

Read the rest of this entry »

The Informer

Random Stuff

5 Comments

Bob Barker gets his wish: Toronto Zoo sends pachyderms packing

Three elephants neither at the Toronto Zoo nor in Quebec (Image: Nils Rinaldi)

On Thursday, the board of directors of the Toronto Zoo voted to send three elephants south after former Price is Right host Bob Barker and zoo watchdog group Zoocheck lobbied heavily for the African Bush elephants to be relocated somewhere more akin to their natural habitat. When the news broke, it appeared the three females—Toka, Thika and Iringa—were destined to escape Ontario’s winter blahs for California’s sunny shores (apparently, even Canadian elephants move to the southern U.S. when they retire). But now it looks like the elephants will actually be heading north to the Granby Zoo in Quebec, where the winters are just as cold but the facility is accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums.

Read the rest of this entry »

The Informer

Random Stuff

1 Comment

Bob Barker comes to town to remind us that Toronto is “too cold” for the elephants at its zoo

One of the elephants at the Toronto Zoo (Image: Day Trips Canada, day-trips.ca)

Former Price is Right host and noted animal rights activist Bob Barker has a new bevy of beauties on his mind: the elephants at the Toronto Zoo. The Toronto Star reports that the 88-year-old celeb is in town this week to encourage officials to shut down the zoo’s elephant enclosure and let the three surviving elephants live out their lives at a northern California sanctuary. The zoo currently houses three female African elephants—Thika, Toka and Iringa—and has taken nothing off the table in its discussions of what to do with them in the coming years.

Read the rest of this entry »

The Informer

Columns

Comments

Dear Urban Diplomat: is it wrong for a vegan to pontificate at the zoo?

Dear Urban Diplomat,
I’m a vegan mom with strong environmental ethics. But my eight-year-old has been begging, literally for years, for a visit to the zoo, and I finally broke down last month. As far as I’m concerned, caging wild creatures is cruel—my acquiescence was on the condition that we would discuss why I oppose uprooting animals from their natural habitats. As we watched the elephants, I began an admittedly emphatic recap of recent deaths. I was startled when a fuming mother interrupted me, launching into a tirade about ruining her kindergartner’s first visit to the zoo. I felt terrible, but all I could do was inadequately apologize. Is there any graceful way to recover from inadvertently crapping all over a child’s wonder?

—I’m a strange animal,
MISSISSAUGA

Read the rest of this entry »

The Informer

Random Stuff

1 Comment

Bob Barker—yes, that Bob Barker—joins calls for a pachyderm-free Toronto

(Image: fireballk2588)

As anyone who watched The Price is Right back in the day knows, Bob Barker is a bit of an animal rights nut. It’s why every episode ended with him asking viewers to spay or neuter their animals, and it’s why he gave the anti-whaling group Sea Shepherd $5 million last year. His latest target is neither pet genitals nor harpoons, but the Toronto Zoo, where a rash of elephant deaths has the zoo reconsidering whether to keep elephants this far north anymore. The Toronto Star has a transcript of their interview with Barker, in which he says he’s got nothing but love for Canada. Still, he had some harsh words for the zoo:

Read the rest of this entry »