Finding sanctuary for Ontario’s elephants
Ontario isn’t a place that you usually associate with elephants; however, there are currently two interesting initiatives underway to improve the welfare for elephants in the province. Earlier in the year Toronto City council supported a proposal by city councillor Michelle Berardinetti to relocate the elephants from the Toronto Zoo to the Performing Animal Welfare Sanctuary (PAWS) in California. The three elephants, Iringa, 42, Toka, 41, and Thika, 30, are getting older and can no longer handle the cold Toronto winters – which can lead to painful arthritis and chronic foot injuries. The PAWS sanctuary is located on more than 30 hectares of rolling grasslands, has a therapeutic Jacuzzi, a mud pond, lakes and 24-hour veterinary care. Retired game show host and animal advocate Bob Baker and Zoocheck Canada have offered to fund the entire move – a win-win situation for the elephants and tax payers. Unfortunately the move has been stalled by the zoo.
Ontario Liberal MPP Lorenzo Berardinetti (spouse of Michelle) has introduced a Private Members bill which seeks to end the use of fear or dominance-based elephant training devices such as electric prods, bullhooks, an ankus, or any implement used to shock, poke, strike, hit, stab, pierce or pinch the skin of an elephant. The bill will also limit the use of chains, ropes or similar devices to restrain an elephant.