Zoo board votes to move three elephants

The Toronto Zoo has decided it’s time to find new homes for its three elephants.

TORONTO — The Toronto Zoo has decided it’s time to find new homes for its three elephants.

The facility’s management board voted 5-2 Thursday in favour of moving Toka, Thika and Iringa to another zoo

The move comes after pressure from animal rights activists — including former game show host Bob Barker — who argued that Canada’s cold climate wasn’t suitable for elephants and they should be sent to sanctuaries in the southern United States.

But the decision doesn’t guarantee that the elephants will be sent to warmer climates, only that they will be sent to facilities accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums.

“Our elephants are wonderful, they’re beautiful, they’re old,” said councillor Glenn De Baeremaeker, a member of the board who voted against moving them to another accredited zoo.

“They get cold during January. They should be retired somewhere where it’s sunny and warm.”

The board spent the day hearing submissions on whether to spend millions on a new elephant facility or relocate the animals.

A recent report said it would cost the city $16.5-million to build a new home for the pachyderms and recommended they be moved to another accredited facility.

The report rejected the sanctuaries suggested by Barker as destinations for the elephants because they are not accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums.

The zoo will now begin looking for a facility that can take all three elephants but they could end up being separated.

CEO John Tracogna said it would take up to two years to relocate the three female elephants, two of which are in their 40s.

Barker was in Toronto last month hoping to convince zoo officials that a sanctuary in California or Tennessee would be the best option for the animals