Archive for June 10th, 2012

The Elephants in the (Council) Room

- June 10th, 2012

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Thika the elephant at the Toronto Zoo (file photo)

Councillor Raymond Cho tried two days in a row to get the Toronto Zoo’s elephants on the agenda of this month’s council meeting.

On both days, Cho didn’t get the two-thirds of council support he needed to walk on a motion about the ordered but yet to be completed transfer of Toka, Thika and Iringa.

I managed to snag a copy of Cho’s motions Friday, here’s the rundown:

Had Cho succeeded in getting this motion on the council floor, councillors would have been voting on giving the zoo another order. The last order council gave the zoo was to transfer the elephants to the PAWS sanctuary in California. This time council would have been ordering the zoo to transfer the elephants within 30 days of getting the CITES permit – the documentation needed to transport an endangered species across the Canada-US border.

Here’s the exact text of what councillors didn’t vote on Wednesday or Thursday:

Recommendations:

1) The Toronto Zoo commence transport of Toka, Thika and Iringa to the Performing Animals Welfare Society (PAWS) Sanctuary in San Andreas, California, within 30 days of receiving the CITES permit approval and confirmation of the elephants’ continued good health.

Cho had to change the wording of the motion’s reason for urgency each time he brought it to council.

On the first day, Cho said the reason for urgency was because Iringa is suffering from a foot infection “caused by a lack of open space available to elephants at the Toronto Zoo facilities.” He pointed out PAWS had the open space that could “potentially cure” Iringa’s foot and that two elephants at the zoo have passed away due to complications from foot infections.

When he tried for approval on the second day, Cho invoked retired U.S. game show host Bob Barker to help make his case for urgency. In his motion, Cho said the matter was urgent because Barker had threatened in the past to rescind his offer to pay for the elephants transfer unless he has a guarantee it is going to happen.

“If PAWS and their supporters rescind their offer, the full cost of the elephants’ transfer will have to be paid for by the taxpayers of Toronto,” Cho stated in the second motion.