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.

Categories: Politics

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13 comments

  1. JANE DOE says:

    A person like bob barker willing to donate almost a $1 million dollars treated like garbage….So Toronto city hall have the nerve to tell someone who donates money what to do with their donation? This is not about the welfare and safety of zoo..This is about Toronto city union power..out of control. FIRE THESE PEOPLE AND SEND THE ELEPHANTS TO THE CALIFORNIA SANCTUARY.

  2. JOHN DOE says:

    @JANE DOE – shouting your point doesn’t make it any more correct.

    Why on earth should the Toronto City Council’s opinion of what to do with the elephants be more valid or better informed than that of the elephants’ keepers? If you think these people should be “fired” then how can you possibly support what they want done with these animals? Either they’re doing the right thing (they’re not) and they should be commended and re-elected for their decision, or they’re doing the wrong thing and the elephants should go to a zoo. You can’t have it both ways.

    But I did love how you brought the unions into something that has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with any union. Classic smoke and mirrors.

  3. unknown_man says:

    Another failure of the bureaucracy to listen to the government elected by the people. If it were up to me I would close the zoo.

  4. PAWS has Tuberculosis says:

    PAWS has Tuberculosis and CHO and Berardinetti have an inappropriately close relationship with anti Zoo organizations. A member of the Toronto Zoo board of management should not spend all of his time and motions without notice in council actively spitting in the face of an organization is charged with helping and representing.

    Mr. Peat if you are reading this – why not look into why Cho and Berardinetti did not post their personal expenses related to their belated trip to PAWS as they are required to do by the City Clerks Office? They say they paid for the trip, but where is the proof? By the way if Berardinetti has to claim this expense (as she should have) shes over her office expense budget for the the year I would venture a guess…

  5. Meaghan Edwards says:

    Raymond Cho needs to step down; his affiliation with ZooCheck Canada, while being on the zoo board, is simply a conflict of interest.. Remember Tim Trow? Another ARist who nearly ruined Toronto Humane Society’s image. ARist extremists do not belong in the animal field, period.

    unkown_man, and the rest with the same belief, If the zoo was to close, would you be willing to be involved in the zoo’s breeding programs for the number of endangered species they are working on trying to save? No, I didn’t think so.

    And I do hate to break to you, but concern about the animals that the staff work with on a daily basis, is not a fireable offense, and such a cry is baseless anyways (look up Toronto’s whistleblower policy).

    Even Rob Ford said animal based decisions need to be made by the animal care staff, certainly not by politcians who have never visited the zoo before. I wonder how many people still remember Michael Bryant, who sentanced thousands of dogs to death in this province (and did not reduce the number of dog attacks) instead of listening to expert advice.

    If you care about the elephants, support the zoo and the zoo staff who want what is best for them; their concerns are most certainly valid. Attacking them is not helping the girls.

  6. Toronto Citizen says:

    Thank goodness his fellow council members are starting to wake up and see the politics in all this for what it is. Cho is a traitor to the Zoo Board of Management and should resign. He’s in bed with Zoocheck and Zoocheck has no place in the management affairs of the Toronto Zoo. Rhinos come from the same continent & climate as elephants so why is he not trying to move the Rhinos out of the TZ? Oh wait – there are no rhino sanctuaries in California and PAWS doesn’t want them. All Cho cares about is his panda task force and his blessed memorial garden. He should NOT be on the Board of Directors, he’s harming the zoo more than he’s helping it.

  7. Stagger Film says:

    Why people are in such a hurry to send these animals to a TB infected facility is beyond me.

  8. How are lynx and elephants similar? says:

    Zoocheck has reported that it has successfully sent London’s Storybook Gardens 2 Canadian lynx to PAWS. Lynx enjoy cold weather climates, enjoy the snow, get lethargic in the hot weather. Can someone please explain why this organization thinks it’s ok to send lynx and elephants to the same place? Either this California sanctuary isn’t so hot and sunny as it’s claimed to be and will have sufficient snowfalls and below 0 temperatures to keep the lynx happy or they’ve sent the lynx to a place that’s as miserable to them as Mexico is to a polar bear (zoocheck’s propaganda, not mine).

  9. bszasz says:

    After all this time, the zoo has not acquired CITES approval OR provided confirmation of the elephants’ health?! Instead, scare tactics are being used, and every other reason that can be dredged up, to stall the move. Since we know that the majority of captive elephants in North America have been exposed to TB, in one way or another, this insistence that PAWS is un acceptable is pure hogwash. And any elephant put in a facility like the proposed NEC will be continuously exposed to mycobacterium tuberculosis, as well as the dozens of other contagious mycobacteria that infect the herds,. by having elephants continuously coming & going for breeding. We have elephants coming to Ontario with the Shrine circus who share winter quarters with elephants with active TB. That’s where we truly concerned people have been fighting – we thought we’d won health and freedom for Toka, Thika & Iringa. Obviously, city employees are not required to obey council directives.

  10. Meaghan Edwards says:

    The concerns that the keepers and concerned citizens are not scare tactics; just facts. I think the insisting that NEC is a horrible place, is, however.

  11. Merry says:

    June 12, 2012 at 11:38 pm

    What a shame that any article about the elephants keeps getting high-jacked by the Tuberculosis Trolls which use their own brand of smoke and mirrors to prejudice the public – it is not working because it has gotten tiresome. After reading about TB on my own I now understand that PAWS does not have active TB, but if you will notice the Trolls will not tell you that. Though some ASIAN elephants have been exposed, they do not have active disease and there is a big difference. Also the Asian elephants are not near enough the African elephants to transmits the disease even if it were active. We have all read their tired-old fraud before. Wish the Sun would be better at moderating, especially when one of the trolls describes itself as “PAWS has tuberculosis” which is bordering on slander. But then again these keepers/trolls have acted so outrageously that such in-you-face prejudice only makes people stop and think. In my case, it has worked against them.

    This highjacking of the elephants from going to live a happy life at PAWS, will backfire in all the councillors, keepers and trolls faces when one of the elephants dies – which after seeing them in their pathetic small space, could be very soon. The whole situation is revolting.

  12. Meaghan Edwards says:

    Tuberculosis Trolls. Hm, another one to add to the list of names that the concerned have been called. Meanwhile, we are the ones that are accused of slandering.

    BTW, that “pathetic small space” can be renovated into a state of the art facility. It can be done. Look at Toledo, loook at Denver. These places did not bow down to the ARists.

  13. AnimalAdvocate says:

    What is most concerning is the sheer lunacy of so many of the zoo keepers and so-called friends making false and libellous comments about the city councillors. As our democratically elected officials I expect them to listen to the people of Toronto who want the elephants moved to PAWS. I am one of the hundreds of people who have signed the letter requesting Councillors to move the elephants to PAWS – long before the October vote at Council. Meaghan Edwards is nothing more than a cyber-twit constantly making comments on this situation as if she is an expert or holds expert knowledge. The same can be said for Lisa Selby, Margaret Prior and the other zoo extremists who on one hand say they love and support animals and on the other oppose animal rights. Which is it? Those who care and support the rights and welfare for animals have more credence than the lot of you who continue to write derogatory and false statements about the Councillors and PAWS. Council has spoken, they represent the will of the people, and the public servants are there to fulfill the requests made by Council. Zoo staff are not hired to make decisions, they are hired to provide a service. Councillors made a fully informed decision based on sound world renowned expert advice – real experts who hold various degrees, years of experience, and a wide variety of experience with elephants in captivity and the wild. They made the right decision, Send them to PAWS!

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