Statement by Canada's Accredited Zoos and Aquariums on the move today of the Toronto Zoo's three African elephants

Statement by Massimo Bergamini, Executive Director of Canada's Accredited Zoos and Aquariums, on the transfer today of the Toronto Zoo's three African elephants to the PAWS facility in California.

OTTAWA, Oct. 17, 2013 /CNW/ - "The Toronto Zoo's three elephants begin a long journey today to their new home, the Performing Animal Welfare Society's (PAWS) facility in in Northern California.

Canada's Accredited Zoos and Aquariums (CAZA) opposed Council's decision to move the elephants to the PAWS facility because of the risk of exposure to TB - an often-fatal disease among elephants.

It is important to note that Council's decision was made against the recommendation of Toronto Zoo staff that had wanted the animals moved to an alternative site, the National Elephant Centre in Florida. The 200-acre facility is disease-free and its relative proximity to Toronto would have reduced transport-related stress for the animals.

How this decision unfolded raised questions about the appropriate role of political institutions in setting policies that affect animal welfare and whether appropriate checks and balances were in place. These questions remain.

On what must be a terribly difficult day, to the people -- zookeepers, trainers, veterinarians and other Zoo staff -- that cared for these incredible animals for so many years, our thoughts are with you.  And to Thika, Iringa and Toka, Canada's accredited zoo and aquarium community wishes you a safe journey. "

SOURCE Canada's Accredited Zoos and Aquariums (CAZA)

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