TORONTO, Sept. 25, 2012 /CNW/ - Today, John Tracogna, CEO and Dr. Graham
Crawshaw, Senior Veterinarian at the Toronto Zoo provided an update to
the Toronto Zoo Board of Management on the elephant move of Iringa,
Toka, and Thika, to the Performing Animal Welfare Society (PAWS)
Sanctuary in Northern California.
"There are a number of complexities involved with transferring three
elephants over an international border, and the associated technical
elements that a privately owned/operated sanctuary and a public
institution (Toronto Zoo) need to coordinate as part of due
diligence," said John Tracogna, CEO, Toronto Zoo.
While much progress has been made on the move to date, the delays in the
safe and humane transfer of Iringa, Toka, and Thika can be primarily
attributed to a number of factors under the responsibility of PAWS,
including: USA permits/documents, supply of right-sized crates, a
sound transportation plan, and provision of medical information as it
relates to PAWS' elephant collection.
"We think it's important to let the public know that we have been
working diligently on ensuring that our elephants' relocation occurs
smoothly under conditions that ensure the health of all involved,"
said Dr. Graham Crawshaw, Senior Veterinarian, Toronto Zoo. "There
still remain significant unanswered questions regarding the medical
records and the prevailing biosecurity conditions at the PAWS
The new information regarding potential health risks to the elephants
raised concerns amongst several Toronto Zoo Board of Management members
today. "As I have stated before, it would be entirely irresponsible to
move members of our family to another home until we have all the
answers to complete our due diligence review and make the best decision
for the future of these animals," added Mr. Tracogna.
The Toronto Zoo has confirmed to PAWS that Environment Canada has the
export permits for the elephants and will issue them as soon as the
U.S. import permits are ready and provided. While our applications were
filed with Environment Canada in December 2011, we were just informed
by PAWS of the US import permit on September 18, 2012. The date of
permit issuance was July 26th, 2012 (55 days prior). With an expiration
of October 1, 2012, it seems unusual that the Toronto Zoo was only just
notified. An extension on the import permit will likely be required
while the export permits are being prepared by Environment Canada.
Final Transportation Plan:
Under the current agreement, PAWS is responsible for making and paying
for the safe and humane transportation arrangements for the elephant
transfer. PAWS agreed that the air carrier (AN124) originally proposed
by them was not suitable to transfer the elephants to California
because the cargo area was not sufficiently pressurized to ensure the
safe transport of the elephants and accompanying personnel. PAWS has
yet to provide final details of the transportation plan.
Crates and Training:
The three crates provided by PAWS need modifications in order to
properly accommodate (fit) each elephant into their respective crates.
While two of the crates have been modified and are deemed acceptable,
one is in need of upgrades including lengthening as one of the
elephants (Toka) cannot fit into her crate as the rear doors are not
closeable. Training has been conducted to prepare the elephants and
accommodate transport. There have been a few setbacks (Iringa) as the
preparation process is one of patience and trust to ensure the most
humane transfer possible.
Medical and Health Records:
Toronto Zoo veterinarians Dr. Graham Crawshaw and Dr. William Rapley
were permitted to review PAWS medical records in late June. The
confirmation of TB at PAWS and the threat, if any, it may pose to the
Toronto Zoo's elephants, is part of the due diligence review. Dr.
Crawshaw has provided a list of questions/issues that he needs to be
supplied or addressed by PAWS that are most pertinent outstanding
medical record related questions, and that need to be answered in order
to permit him to finish his due diligence review. PAWS has been
provided with Dr. Crawshaw's request for information. Additionally,
there are some public accounts of the presence of tuberculosis (TB) at
the PAWS facility. In December, 2011 the visiting team from the Toronto
Zoo was not permitted access to two of the five barns where the
elephants are housed. This lack of access combined with numerous PAWS
staff wearing masks and freely moving between all five barns has raised
some serious concerns due to the contagious nature of TB and potential
fatal health risks associated with the disease.
About the Toronto Zoo
The Toronto Zoo is Canada's premier zoo and a leader in animal
preservation and environmental protection. More than a tourist
attraction, the Toronto Zoo boasts a number of leading programs for
helping animals and their natural habitats - from species
reintroduction to reproductive research. A world-class educational
center for people of all ages, the Toronto Zoo is open every day except
Christmas, and attracts approximately 1.3 million visitors each year. www.torontozoo.com
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SOURCE: Toronto Zoo
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