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Toronto Zoo elephants may be trucked to PAWS sanctuary

There is now talk of moving the Toronto Zoo’s last three aging elephants to a sanctuary in northern California by truck, according to reports.

Toronto City Council voted in October 2011 to send Thika, Toka and Iringa to the Performing Animal Welfare Society (PAWS) rather than keep them at the zoo where they’d have to endure the harsh winters. It reaffirmed its decision last November to send them to PAWS in San Andreas, Calif.

The latest proposal by PAWS, its Toronto representative Zoocheck Canada and its consultant Active Environments hired to move the elephants was discussed at a meeting of the zoo’s board of management on Thursday during an elephant transfer update.

Their first plan was to move the elephants by plane, and the tab would be picked up by former-game-show-host-turned-elephant-rights-crusader Bob Barker. But the ground transport plan emerged after the Department of National Defence said a military plane may not be available until at least the fall.

If zoo management, who weren’t immediately available for comment, sign off on the truck plan, the trip would happen in early October.

Under the plan, one elephant would go in one truck, and the other two pachyderms would go in a second truck. The trip would pass at least seven zoos in case of an emergency and last several days including stops, the Toronto Star and the Globe and Mail reported.

Veterinarians and other animal experts would closely follow the caravan and security cameras would monitor the animals in their crates. To stay cool, the elephants will be misted.

A zoo spokeswoman said in an email, “the Toronto Zoo has received a preliminary transport plan and it is currently under review.”.

“During this review, the Toronto Zoo will continue to work with the elephants to train them in preparation for their transport.”