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Bob Barker helps move elephants from Toronto Zoo

An elephant soaking up the sun at the Toronto Zoo
An elephant soaking up the sun at the Toronto Zoo

Jill Colton, staff writer

May 12, 2011 — The Toronto Zoo has announced that they will find new homes for its three elephants. The move comes after pressure from game show host Bob Barker.

Barker helps close elephant exhibit
Barker helps close elephant exhibit

Former game show host Bob Barker has been a longtime supporter of animal rights. He's been arguing that Canada's cold climate wasn't suitable for three elephants at The Toronto Zoo.

Barker felt the city was too cold for the gentle giants. He said Toka, Thika and Iringa belong in a sanctuary in a much warmer climate.

“It would be like having a polar bear in Las Vegas. It’s not a place where they can be healthy or happy.”

The facility's management board voted on Thursday and the 5-2 result was in favour of moving its three elephants to another zoo. Officials say the decision however, doesn't guarantee that they will be sent to sanctuaries like Barker suggested, just that they will be sent to facilities accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums.

“These elephants have been there for 30 or 40 years. Just like us, they've worked hard for a long time and it's time to send them down south to enjoy their sunset years, much like most of our seniors want to do,” said city councillor and zoo board member Glenn De Baeremaeker. “I think there's a lot of very positive momentum to protect our elephants and to free our elephants at the Toronto zoo,” he told reporters compassionately last month.

A recent report said it would cost the city over $16 million to build a new home for the elephants and consultants recommended they be moved.

It could take up to two years to relocate the three female elephants, two of which are in their 40's and the transferring costs could add up to $50,000. When Barker was in Toronto last month he offered to contribute to the cost for relocation.

With files from The Canadian Press and Andrea Stockton

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