Zoosmatter

Facts vs Fiction

There seems to be a misconception being perpetuated by animal rights fanatics that we here at Zoosmatter lobbied to keep our Toronto elephants at our zoo. This is not true and there is documented evidence throughout this blog and at City of Toronto Council and executive meetings proving otherwise. We would have preferred the zoo had fundraised and expanded the elephant exhibit and program but that was not to be the case with the coming of pandas. We supported a rehoming of our elephants, to a multi-generational family herd which would most mimic the lives led by their wild counterparts. We were against sending our elephants on long transports that would prove to be unhealthy and in the case of Iringa, deadly to the animals. We supported a move, just not to a facility with a long history of issues with tuberculosis and a known penchant for keeping facts and truths private as well as the promotion of agendas that denigrate and devalue the incredible conservation work being done by good zoos around the world.

Another misconception, well actually it is a blatant lie that PAWS needs to be called out on is that Toronto’s elephants were regularly chained other than for transport training. Why does the Toronto Zoo allow PAWS to allow its reputation to be damaged on the official webpage by not correcting this? Why does the zoo and PAWS allow these lies to be continually perpetuated? Enforce the contract Toronto Zoo Board because It is not true.

In fact the only time they were ever chained was when PAWS, Zoocheck and their anti-zoo army stepped in and forced an inhumane and ultimately deadly 85 hour road trip on them. Rest in peace Iringa.

Woodland Park Zoo's Bamboo and Chai integrated with multi-generational herd in less than three months

Woodland Park Zoo’s Bamboo and Chai integrated with multi-generational herd in less than three months

http://www.king5.com/story/news/local/pets-and-animals/2015/06/30/chai-bamboo-oklahoma-zoo-elephants/29522509/

The Show Must go on!

This past week we have seen many PAWS supporters ask a simple question, why won’t you or why can’t you evacuate your animals? Those who are known to be non-supporters of PAWS had their comments deleted pronto and were also swiftly banned from posting. Simple questions like “why have your live webcams been turned off?” go unanswered. There is always a handful of the most loyal fans who will respond to these questions on PAWS behalf with generally ludicrous made up answers to appease the more ludicrous of questioners. Still, we see you asking and we see you either attacked, appeased or ignored. Here is our take on last week’s events:

Now, if the air quality conditions were as you claim Ed, peachy keen, when the fires were very close and basically raging between Sept 10 to September 14, enough so that you could send the elephants out in to it for photo ops why not have the webcams running? If the animals were calm and unaffected by the fires and smoke then why not have the cams on? Just answer the question Ed, it is not that hard. We are prepared for your answer, “oh there is a problem with the live feed or it’s broken” and if that is the case then why the big deal? Why not just answer the damn question? It appears to be one of the most popular questions on your Facebook page currently, one that goes unanswered by you and your marketing team. But let’s move on to the greater more interesting question that has gone unanswered.

Why did you refuse to evacuate and then refuse the help offered to get your entire collection of animals out of the fiery and smokey conditions?

We understand why you refused help from the zoological and performing animal experts, accepting this aid from people who use an elephant guide would undermine your lobby efforts to ban the guide. Your fans may not accept this very rational and obvious assessment but there are many people out there who do. Are you incapable of moving those elephants without a major undertaking because simply put your management and training skills are not as world class as you claim? Unable to properly train Annie for treatment of TB would be one indicator this is the case (according to USDA FOI) And FYI Annie was not abused at her zoo, she lived with you for 19 years and you were unable to do anything to heal this alleged abuse or her foot issues? You do remember she was exposed to tuberculosis when you failed to diagnose Rebecca, she had positive STATPAK results shortly after and was eventually diagnosed with active tuberculosis. Your constant misrepresentation of the truth to make excuses for yourselves really is sickening.

a year after being diagnosed with tuberculosis she ha still not been treated, why?

a year after being diagnosed with tuberculosis she had still not been treated, why?

Incapable of integrating Thika with her own family herd or any of the Toronto elephants with your existing herd would be another major red flag. While zoos all over the world are integrating elephant groups within months and even days its been two years and still you cannot integrate our elephants with yours. It is pretty sad to think of Thika living alone all those months and now Toka as well.

It seems however that the real reason evacuation was avoided was right there in front of our faces all this time.

And here it is.

  • “Seeing the Elephants”
    2-Day Weekend Getaway
    Your Schedule:
    • Arrival in San Andreas, California, on Friday.
    • Spend Friday and Saturday nights at a lovely bed & breakfast in this historic Gold Rush town.
    • Awake each morning to a scrumptious, homemade breakfast.
    • SATURDAY features an educational, fun-filled, daylong visit with PAWS’ elephants — Mara,
    Nicholas, Gypsy, Lulu, Prince, Toka, Thika and Maggie at ARK 2000.
    • You’ll receive an “insider’s” tour of the elephant habitat and spend the day with PAWS president, and co-founder, Ed Stewart, and ARK 2000 Sanctuary manager, and senior elephant keeper, Brian Busta.
    • A vegetarian picnic lunch will be served.
    • On your own for dinner Friday and Saturday.
    • SUNDAY features a special extended visit with the lions, tigers, leopard and bears in their ARK 2000 habitats.
    Receive an “insider’s” tour of the habitats.
    Donation price for this unique experience: $800 per person
    ($1,300 for 2 people sharing a room)
    “Seeing the Elephant”
    Saturday, 1-Day Getaway
    Your schedule:
    • Arrival in San Andreas, California, by 9 a.m.
    • Take part in an educational, fun-filled, day visit with PAWS’ elephants — Mara, Nicholas, Gypsy, Lulu, Prince, Toka, Thika and Maggie at ARK 2000. You’ll explore elephant habitat and spend the day with the PAWS president, and co-founder, Ed Stewart, and ARK 2000 sanctuary manager, and senior elephant keeper, Brian Busta.
  • A vegetarian picnic lunch will be served.
    Donation price for this unique experience: $250 per person

This event would have most certainly had to be cancelled if you moved your animals to safety. And with many people likely flying in for the event and with bookings at your friend’s B and B as well, evacuation and rescheduling would have been a financial and logistical disaster for all involved. It was just easier and more financially beneficial to “shelter in place”.

How much does this event bring in? $15,000, $25,000? Not to mention all the priceless photo ops you use afterwards to promote yourself. We know there are many of you out there that will be outraged at this suggestion on our part, but we are not concerned about your outrage over us, we could care less actually. Our main concern is the animals and their health and well-being. Anyone who would see this connection and not have an “aha” moment, actually stop and think to themselves that this makes sense is not someone we are appealing to. We are appealing to those who have a rational thought process and who care more about animal welfare than their ideological membership in the PAWS club.

Did they refuse evacuation so as to ensure this event was not interrupted or cancelled? You should all ask yourselves this question honestly and without bias.

Did you know that USDA elephant inspector Dr. Denise Sofranko has been known to frequent these visitor events? That is relevant when you consider PAWS told a news station that they have kept their inspector informed about their “shelter in place” emergency plan. If a zoo or a private owner had done this there would be a 50 thousand person petition and complaints to the USDA. But PAWS always gets a pass and its starting to appear suspicious don’t you think?

One minute Ed Stewart is telling the media “you cannot prepare for a monster fire like this” and the next minute he is saying “we prepare all year for this”. One minute he says they cannot evacuate and the next he says oh we have an evacuation plan. Either you do or you don’t Ed. Just pick one answer and go with it, people ARE PAYING ATTENTION.

Should PAWS get a pass just because you support their ideology? Should they get a pass even if it might put the animals’ lives at risk? What happens when the next fire comes from the south or the west and there is no city or highway to buffer the onslaught? The intensity of the heat and smoke alone sweeping across those dry, barren fields would be enough to kill animals. And these fires are not going away anytime soon.

Perhaps this will help you decide. When PAWS, Zoocheck and Active Environments moved the Toronto elephants in trucks and with drivers who had little to no experience transporting large animals Thika’s truck’s brakes burned out in the Donner Pass, why we cannot say for certain but it is suggested that speed was a factor. You see it was getting late and dark and good Old Bob Barker and the press were waiting at the facility for the animals to arrive so they could film the big victory. The push days previous to get on the road at a very specific time was probably because they had hoped to arrive on the Saturday of the Grape Stomp event. Imagine how grand that would have been and imagine people opening up their wallets on the spot. They wholly underestimated the time it would take to move these elephants citing originally 40 to 50 hours when in fact it took 85 hours. After Thika’s truck broke down the others chose to speed off with Toka and Iringa leaving Thika behind. Emotionally and physically exhausted and drained she had to watch her only family drive away and leave her behind and alone. Imagine how traumatizing that must have been for her. She was traumatized because she didn’t even want to leave her crate later and it took the Toronto Keepers over an hour to get her to do so and then she refused to enter the barn. And she was allowed to remain outside despite the cooler evening temperatures and not taking into consideration how those cold temperatures could affect an animal experiencing physical or emotional trauma after transport. And as we know the next morning Bob Barker kicked those keepers out after mocking their sadness and tears of course, PAWS did not allow them to stay and aid in the transition as per industry standards. Because it was not about the animals’ well-being it was about egos and pay back on the part of Ed and his team. This is what Thika looked like just days after arrival and we assure you she did not look like that before she left Toronto.

Thika healthy at Toronto Zoo then gravely ill four days after arriving at PAWS

Thika healthy at Toronto Zoo then gravely ill four days after arriving at PAWS

But the show must go on. And it really is a show. Carefully chosen video clips and photo ops, limited information, media statements. Everything calculated to present PAWS in just the right way to promote themselves and their profitable animal rights agendas.  PAWS continues to have the nerve to accuse people who make their living with animals of exploiting them for money, profit and greed despite several million dollars in profits sitting in their own bank accounts. And to add insult to injury they had the nerve to capitalize on this disastrous and deadly fire to ask for donations for their magical firefighting goat fund. It was only after they were mocked on social media for putting out the begging bowl for themselves that they suggested people assist animal rescue efforts in the areas affected by the fires. Which of course was followed by photos of Ed donating some hay. By the way, with a tuberculosis quarantine order in place for Gypsy and possibly the bulls we were wondering if that hay came from ARK2000, because, well that would be against USDA regulations right?

If you want to believe that PAWS didn’t put all of their animals at risk in order to salvage their visitor weekend and a $15+ profit then that is your choice, we believe they did and that is our right. More and more of you have begun to ask questions and we applaud your courage to face the wrath of the super fandom, to stand on your own, step away from the groupthink mentality and do what is truly best for these animals. Keep asking questions and never stop. Hold them to the same standards they publicly demand of others. Those animals depend on your courage.

Fire is the New Normal Ed Stewart so get used to it

http://www.latimes.com/opinion/opinion-la/la-ol-valley-fire-climate-change-0814-story.html

“Ken Pimlott, director of the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, said Monday during a news conference on the Valley fireand two other major fires still burning, that the state has recorded about 1,500 more fires than usual for this time of year. And it’s not over yet. “We don’t see an end to fire season in the months to come,” he said.”

Wildfires are the new normal

smoke dangers

PAWS and its supporters are complaining that they are being targeted, picked on unfairly. First let’s just point out that PAWS and its affiliates have targeted and picked on animal owners and zoological facilities for many years. They are not exempt from scrutiny, not because quid pro quo but because they have made very public claims that they are the industry standard and the world’s best at just about everything, transport and animal care, leaders in protected contact, the moral higher authority on everything animal including disease prevention and treatment. But PAWS is not exempt from scrutiny, their claims of the best disease prevention protocols has been debunked during the Toronto Zoo elephant crisis. USDA and other government agency documents evidence a complete and utter failure at preventing the spread on tuberculosis and in fact having an onsite outbreak that infected humans and animals not previously infected with the disease. Their claims of the statpak as the gold standard of diagnosis and that they were the leaders in utilizing this process also fell apart like a wet cookie.As for transport that is a matter of opinion, if of course your opinion is that transporting any animal for an inhumane 85 hours by truck is some kind of high quality standard others should aspire to. And there is no evidence made public to assess the effects of this transport on the elephants. Except that within months the youngest Toronto elephant Thika was segregated from her family herd of 30+ years with unfounded claims bought hook line and sinker by the fandom of PAWS that it had been a forced herd, that Thika was aggressive to her family group. Again, this was disproved by the many years she spent with her herd without major issue. But PAWS and Zoocheck scoured their freedom of information documents from the zoo and found a couple of random non-issue occurrences they blew out of proportion just enough to justify their claims and further their agendas. Protect your image at all costs right?

It is more realistic to assume that Iringa was physically damaged from the transport and that Thika’s young and boisterous nature was a concern, a concern that she might knock over the physically frail and Injured Iringa who died 18 months later. And as soon as she died ta dah you are attempting to reintegrate Thika with Toka, what a convenient coincidence. So not only did none of the fandom scrutinize PAWS for having not one but two elephants living isolated and alone, Thika and Gypsy whose herd has all died off, they in fact supported this by not questioning it at all. Of course a zoo elephant or privately owned elephant living alone is a crime against humanity and all of the animal kingdom punishable by death according to what animal rights zealots post on social media. The contract with the Toronto Zoo clearly states that two health updates were required annually, months and months after arrival PAWS you send what basically amounts to a blog post where you harp back to health records from the elephants time at the Toronto Zoo, “oh this is better and that is better, we have cured everything” But freedom of information requests proved that PAWS did not send a single actual medical or veterinary document, no blood work nothing to support anything claimed in the report. The Zoo board, under the power and influence of city politicians who are pro PAWS would not invoke the contractual agreement to demand better more industry standard information on the health and welfare of our elephants. We could go on and on and on with evidence which suggest that PAWS should be scrutinized. To your loyal fans we ask, is it about idolizing an organization and an ideology or about caring about animal welfare? With little to no actual video footage, 30 seconds here and 30 seconds there and calculated photo ops how can anyone know the truth? Considering PAWS and Zoocheck were dishonest about tuberculosis at the facility, to the media, to the zoo and to the people of Toronto sorry if we are loath to trust them now. Causes of death are always somehow conveniently attributed to the former owner. Even Annie exposed onsite to undiagnosed tuberculosis in 2011, who tested as infected soon after then positive in June of 2012 was claimed to have died from foot ailments, the number one cause of death of elephants in captivity they stated, again conveniently pushing their anti-zoo agendas. This was the former zoo’s fault? Annie had lived at PAWS for almost 19 years. Why in 19 years were you unable to treat Annie? Why didn’t the rolling foothills of Calaveras County and the free range roaming aid her feet as PAWS claims it is supposed to? We await USDA FOI and we will see what Annie’s true cause of death was. We predict shades of Sabu and Rebecca.

So fast forward to today, where wildfires raging uncontrolled and endless drought are the new normal. Ironically when deputing to Toronto Councilors we raised this concern time and again, fear mongering they said. More ironically is that many of these councilors cite concerns with the effects of climate change and how to change and update our city management in accordance to new erratic and extreme weather conditions but our concerns about drought and wildfires was somehow pseudo-science. In fact as always our concerns were rational, fact and science based logic. So PAWS dodged this fiery bullet but what about the next fire or the one after that? What about the fire that comes from the west or the south or north? Where there is not a town or a highway to act as a buffer zone? Do you all really believe that goats and sprinklers will save those animals? In this time of extreme drought and subsequent threats from wildfires in Northern California PAWS should have an evacuation plan and the means execute said plan. You cannot afford to stand around begging elephants with treats to get them into crates and then on to trucks to get them to safety. The USDA and California Fish and Game should be demanding that PAWS find the means to operate a full scale evacuation if necessary. Simply saying oh hey were will stick it out, or we will stay here with our animals sounds all nice and martyr like but we don’t want martyrs we want safe animals. So to all you PAWS fans and to you Ed Stewart go ahead and complain, oh woe is me poor me they are picking on us. We understand how this solidifies your fanbase fanaticism, we get your marketing techniques and always have. But the doesn’t change the facts, other facilities, in particular ones you have harassed alongside your affiliates for years are held to high standards both legally and through the eyes of the public and you should be held to that same standard and those same rules regulations and laws, you are not infallible.

Keeping those animals on site exposed to that heavy smoke is unforgivable. You were offered an olive branch by people who by all accounts despise you and for you the feeling is mutual. But your animal’s lives are more important than a pissing match between you and your nemesis. But again we understand, accepting the help of people who use free contact with an elephant guide would undermine all the lobby work you are engaged in to ban it. So essentially in our eyes your animals and the people who support you were used for political power and gain. But here is the thing, don’t use our elephants or any other animal as a tool to achieve your personal agendas. That is exploitation. Don’t risk their lives to protect your ego and the reputation you have masterfully crafted over the years. Are you the Performing Animal Welfare Society or the Performing Animal Rights Society?  Get an evacuation plan in place and put aside your polarized ideologies and fundraising agendas to put you animals first over agendas. Seriously, how much does it really cost to run a goat fire management program? Maybe you could use the money you fundraised in Mila’s name for those expenses.

So are you being attacked? Picked on? No, you are being scrutinized just like every animal organization should be, no one is exempt Ed and certainly not because you put the word sanctuary in your name and or  have a bunch of big empty rolling hills that give the illusion of living in the wild. FYI, animals need enrichment, try throwing a few tires and balls in there already because it’s not the wild it’s a big, empty barren dry space, it is still captivity with nothing to do but wander around, eat and get fat.

How many hours in the crates? 85 hours!

Ticker was stopping last evening we will post the final number later today. Total time in the crates and total time on the road.
You can follow this LINK to see the results

how long will Toronto Zoo elephants be inhumanely crated on transport to California? 84hrs Crate time,over 70hrs on the road.

We are not your Victory

Toronto Zoo patrons and members – you have been lied to by Toronto City Council

Time for Action! Please read the quick review below. More detailed explanations and discussion can be found in other blog posts.

As we prepare for our elephants to leave it is important for the people of Toronto to know a few things which have thus far been missing from any media reports. The media are clearly hesitant to use freedom of information documents which they themselves did not acquire. The zoo veterinary staff and others at the zoo were censored by City Council and prevented from sharing officially with the media why they had concerns about tuberculosis at PAWS. You have only been given the Pro PAWS side of the story. This is how council wanted it.

As citizens and rightful owners of the Toronto Zoo elephants we had a right to know what the vets concerns were and why. Council ensured that the legal rights of PAWS were catered to while ours were denied. We still own these elephants. PAWS claimed legal obligations to previous owners of the deceased elephants in question to aid in the censorship of this information.

Our vets reviewed the necropsy reports of the 2 most recently deceased African elephants at PAWS, Ruby and 71. They found anomalies on both reports. In particular Ruby had a bronchial mass on one of her lungs. As tuberculosis would be found predominantly on the lungs at time of death the vets asked PAWS for tissue culture reports on these two elephants. PAWS and Zoocheck claimed they had given the zoo everything and had nothing more and at this time those reports are still outstanding. At that point there were some public legal threats from the PAWS/Zoocheck team. We conducted an extensive freedom of information search of all the USA agencies which would have these tissue cultures be they negative or positive for disease, USDA, California Fish and wildlife and California State Health Department. There was nothing. To the best of our knowledge these cultures were never done. As a result of council catering to PAWS needs only and ignoring the democratic rights of the people of this city you were never given an opportunity to review the vets findings. The findings which convinced them along with stacks of documented evidence that there is a risk for tuberculosis at PAWS. You were disallowed from knowing the truth and without an official statement or release of information from the zoo the media could not report on this. We had the facts. We did a reverse FOI to the University of Calgary. We were investigating the independent bio security report that Zoocheck commissioned and which council adopted over the due diligence of the Toronto Zoo. In that foi zoo vets explained to the individual who wrote the report. a Dr. Susan Cork (it was paid advocacy) about their necropsy findings for the African elephants. Without those tissue cultures we cannot be certain of the disease status of that herd. The diagnostics which PAWS claims clears that herd of disease failed to diagnose active TB in their Asian herd;  tuberculosis which killed one elephant and infected two others one of which is now TB+. The African elephant with the bronchial mass at time of death had a high risk history of exposure to this disease having lived with an Asian elephant previously at the LA Zoo which had lived with two other Asians, both of which died from TB. She was treated as a precautionary measure at the LA Zoo. Then she went on to live at PAWS in a shared barn where both Asians and elephants lived together for over five years before a second barn was built in 2009. She died March 2011.

The Dr. Cork Bio Security report which was commissioned by Zoocheck Canada failed to include very important information. There were multiple missing trunk wash results in particular for the deceased African elephant Ruby but more importantly it failed to indicate that there had been human transmission of the disease at the sanctuary. Yes, someone got it and converted to the active form of the disease in the spring of 2012. When we did a FOI to access the genotyping for active cases of TB in Calaveras county (PAWS county) we received the two results. Both had the same genotype. The genotype actually matched another elephant other than the documented TB strains at PAWS. the elephant was Calle who had never lived at PAWS. It was clear and evident through logical deduction that one of the cases of human tuberculosis in the county was the case at PAWS evidenced in our FOI of emal correspondence between th PAWS vet and California State health. Calle (deceased TB+) did live with two Asian elephants, one died from TB and the other was the Asian Gita which went on to live with Ruby at the LA Zoo and then Ruby went on to live at PAWs and when she died PAWS did not have tissue cultures done on a bronchial mass found on her lung at time of necropsy. Are you getting it yet?

Consider these factors:

Three months before the zoo announces it is phasing out the elephant exhibit the source Asian elephant in PAWS outbreak dies. They indicate in foi that they had no idea she was even TB+ until after she dies and as a result wore no protective gear.

Three months after this death the African Ruby dies and it appears PAWS chooses not to have important tissue cultures done on a bronchial mass found on her lung

They knew full well they would be lobbying for the Toronto Zoo elephants at this time in fact their lobby began around 2009. Instead of having tissue cultures done to ensure the African herd is 100% clear of disease they choose not to? Why?

By summer of 2011 PAWS knows that two other Asians have been exposed and they show reactions on an early detector test called the STATPAK.

In the summer of 2011 a visiting sanctuary owner from Thailand notes in his blog that he witnessed masks and gloves being used in the barn for an Asian bull named Sabu indicating full quarantine. Sabu dies in January of 2013. PAWS and Zoocheck claim he died from euthanasia due to arthritis. Despite USDA documents which say he was TB+ at time of death they still make this claim.

In the Fall of 2011 Toronto Council seizes control of our elephants and make claims that there is no TB at PAWS

Councillors, PAWS and Zoocheck claim in the media that there is no TB at PAWS and that no elephant has ever died from TB at PAWS even though they know full well Rebecca died TB+ the previous January.

In the Fall of 2011 the director of the Detroit Zoo sends a letter of support for PAWS to the Zoo’s CEO, in it he indicates that there was on site transmission of TB at PAWS in 2011. This information is never made public. The zoo CEO knew about a tuberculosis outbreak and either refused to share this information with the public or was ordered not to by Councillors.

So at a time when animal rights activists and Councillors were attacking our zoo and maligning staff for opposing PAWS on the grounds of tuberculosis Council had evidence that the zoo staff concerns were not unfounded, that it was true.

In April of 2012 citizens accessed Freedom of Information Documents (FOI) proving here had been an outbreak of disease at the sanctuary and proving that all those involved with supporting PAWS had lied about it.

Our Freedom of Information evidence from Toronto City Hall indicates that Councillors DeBaeremaker and Berardinetti colluded with Zoocheck to malign and disparage the staff in the media. Zoocheck would spoon feed Councillors statements to make about the staff. They also were fed statements to malign the AZA when we lost our accreditation.

You have not been told the truth. The evidence which supports the Zoo vets concerns about tuberculosis has been purposefully censored by City Council in an effort to expedite the transfer of our elephants to what experts believe in an inappropriate facility which represents a risk to their health and welfare. As a citizen, zoo patron or zoo member you had a right to that information. Council chose the rights of PAWS over your rights! Because they knew you would support the scientific evidence and zoological expertise. They have the world convinced that this was nothing more than the AZA bullying a poor little sanctuary. Well that poor little sanctuary is aligned with an animal rights coalition which represents millions and millions of dollars. You were not told the truth and there is a risk of tuberculosis in the African herd at PAWS.

Rebecca and Sabu both had active TB 10 years before it recrudesced and they died. It took ten years for the disease to secretly eat away at their bodies. Latent TB is hard to diagnose and once an animal has it despite treatment they have it for life. It can reappear at any time. Another elephant which was documented in our research died at another facility 8 years after initial diagnosis and treatment. This disease has a 1-20 year incubation period. Why are we taking this risk with our elephants? Because you didn’t know the truth and if you had been told the truth you would have fought this transfer.

There is a high risk for tuberculosis exposure within the African herd at PAWS. And council chose to cater to their anti-zoo animal rights ideology over the true health and welfare of our elephants. They can no longer be trusted to make decisions about the health and welfare of animals at our zoo and Councillor DeBaeremaker as a zoo board member has betrayed us all. He must be removed from our board and the only way to make this happen is with your active support and you voice!

A few more important factors to note:

2009 IDA claim Toronto Zoo is one of the worst zoos for elephants in North America (IDA’s former director now works for PAWS)
2009 – PAWS also makes statements publicly about Toronto Zoo elephants

their campaign for our elephants had begun

Fall 2010
John Tracogna is hired as new CEO of Toronto Zoo
His first order of business is to hire a consulting firm to assess the long term viability of the African elephant exhibit at the zoo. Multiple deaths had occurred at the zoo in recent years and facility upgrades were badly needed.
Comparatively 6 elephants died at PAWS sanctuary in 4 years.

January 2011
PAWS ARK2000 – Rebecca a female Asian elephant dies
Lab reports sent after necropsy show she was TB+
FOI indicates that the sanctuary staff and vet team did not know she was TB+ until after she died
No protective gear was worn by staff
Three other Asian females are exposed

March 2011
PAWS ARK2000 – Ruby a female African elephant dies
No cause of death is ever determined. Ruby had high risk history of exposure to TB at all her former facility homes including the LA Zoo where she had been treated as a precautionary measure due to exposure to a female Asian elephant whose two former herd mates had both died of tuberculosis. No tissue samples are sent to be cultured for disease. USDA TB Management Guideline strongly suggest that all deceased elephants have cultures done at time of death. Claiming to have the best disease protocols  in the world why wouldn’t PAWS have these cultures done?

May 2011
Toronto Zoo board decides to phase out its elephant exhibit and re-home their elephants. They lay out a series of criteria including no facilities which use elephant hooks or free contact and no facilities on the west coast due to the logistics for transport AND no facilities with previous or current issues with tuberculosis. The Tennessee Sanctuary is ruled out early on due to their past history with a TB outbreak in 2009. Council then chooses to maintain adversity to limited use of elephant hook at National Elephant Centre (used in calving to protect calves) but is willing to overlook disease and inhumane transport. They were willing to do anything to continue to cater to their anti zoo ideology.

By June of 2011 Two of the Asian female elephants exposed to Rebecca’s TB test positive on early TB detector test STATPAK. At the time this information had not been made public

July 2011 A visiting sanctuary owner Karl Cullen (now deceased) writes in his blog about his trip to PAWS. He indicates that the PAWS staff was wearing full protective gear, masks and gloves when working a bull Asian elephant named Sabu. This would indicate the presence of disease. Sabu tested positive and was treated for TB in 1999-2001. He came from Ringling Brothers Circus as a result of a legal settlement between PAWS and RLB.

August 2011 City councillors MB and Cho visit PAWS
Sanctuary councillors and Zoocheck Canada deny the presence of any TB or TB deaths at the sanctuary when zoo staff and citizens raise concerns about tuberculosis

October 2011 Toronto City council rules in a motion without notice that the elephants are city assets and seize control over decision making regarding their future home. Without any due diligence or official expert site visits they choose PAWS over the zoos choice the yet to be built but now completed National Elephant Centre. Council cites the limited use of elephant hooks for breeding and calving as their reasons for opposition against TNEC.

Fall 2011 Detroit zoo director sends letter of recommendation for PAWS to Zoo CEO and indicates in his letter that there had been on site transmission of tuberculosis at PAWS in 2011. CEO does not make this public
December 2011 Zoo staff visit the sanctuary, their site visit report is never made public FOI accessed the report in the summer of 2013. Report indicates multiple concerns about bio security protocols and zoo staff are only allowed to review 2 out of the 5 barns

January 2012
Sabu the bull elephant at PAWS dies. PAWS claims he dies from severe arthritis, euthanasia due to severe arthritis actually.
February 2012 Zoo signs legal agreement with PAW sanctuary despite the zoo vets concerns over TB at PAWS.

April 2012
FOI is made public includes necropsy reports and lab reports for Sabu and Rebecca confirming they died TB+. Sanctuary Councillors and Zoocheck claim they had “old” TB infections which were not contagious
More FOI is accessed which proves that there was on site transmission, Rebecca infected two other elephants. One of those is Annie with no previous history of exposure to TB except at PAWS. She converts to active TB June 2012.
The PAWS coalition claims African herd is safe but zoo vets demand to review health records of deceased African elephants. PAWS objects but finally relinquishes the medical documents but claim legal agreements with previous owners so that the findings cannot be made public.
FOI with the University of Calgary eventually accesses the Toronto zoo vets findings in those reports. One observation they found was that the deceased African elephants Ruby and 71 had no tissue cultures done upon necropsy. Ruby’s necropsy indicates she had a bronchial mass on her lung at time of death, 71 had…? The vets ask for the tissue cultures and PAWS claims they have no more medical documents to give. FOI requests done by citizens confirms that the tissue cultures do not exist and were never done.
Zoo vets consider the due diligence to be incomplete. The Executive Committee makes recommendation to send the vote back to council to determine if PAWS is the best facility for the elephants.

Zoocheck Canada hires Dr Susan Cork from the University of Calgary to do an independent infectious disease report on the PAWS sanctuary. FOI indicates she is financially compensated for her work. The report relies solely on the information provided to her by PAWS. Zoocheck claims to Dr Cork that the report is on behalf of Toronto City council, no record exists of any official request from any councillor or city of Toronto official for this report.
Councillor Berardinetti submits the report to Nov 25, 2012 council meeting one hr prior to discussions on the elephant transfer issue. Zoo staff is given less than 45 minutes to review the report. The report is misrepresented to council as entirely the work of Dr Susan Cork, eventual foi and a public statement from the University of Calgary indicate that in fact multiple pages inserted into the report were not the work of Dr Cork or anyone at the university of Calgary
Toronto Council adopts this report over the due diligence of the Toronto zoo despite evidence in the report of multiple missing trunk wash data results for both Asians and Africans at paws just prior to and during the time of their outbreak. Report fails to include the case of human transmission of the disease at PAWS, actually claims there was none.

All of the above statements are evidenced in our Freedom of information documents. As citizens of this city and zoo members we have no motive other than the health and welfare of our elephants. We have committed our time and our own money to fight this and to gather this information for the people of Toronto. We have no reasons to lie to you. This is the truth as we have documented it.

TAKE ACTION NOW!

mayor_ford@toronto.ca

Demand that the information that has been censored about tuberculosis concerns be made public. It is our right to know the truth, these are our elephants and this is our zoo!

councillor_dford@toronto.ca

Councillor Doug Ford supports this transfer and could care less about the risks to our elephant’s lives. He sees the zoo as gravy and supports allowing animal rights groups to dismantle our zoo. tell him how you feel about that.

jtracogna@torontozoo.ca

Joe.Torzsok@telus.com

The Zoo CEO and Zoo Board chair said nothing, did nothing to defend the zoo and its staff and they did not fight to have the truth about vets TB concerns made public. They in fact aided in withholding information from YOU. Tell them how you feel about that

zoobd@toronto.ca

Zoo Board email address. Your concerns will be made public record

councillor_carroll@toronto.ca

councillor_berardinetti@toronto.ca

councillor_debaeremaeker@toronto.ca

councillor_cho@toronto.ca

These Councillors led the charge in favour of PAWS Sanctuary and the recent motions at council to allow animal rights groups to dictate the future of our zoo. Let them know how you feel about this!

breakingnews@cp24.com

torontodesk@bellmedia.ca

news.to@citynews.ca

don.peat@sunmedia.ca

Robert.Malcolm@globalnews.ca

news@ctv.ca

Ask the media why they never published the evidence indicated in official FOI documents so that the people of this city could know the truth! You can find your councillor’s contact information here And ask why City Councillors and Zoocheck were never called out for their LIES!

Feel free to publish your emails at https://www.facebook.com/HelpTorontoZoo

Councillor Michelle Berardinetti- Broken Promises

Councillor Michelle Berardinetti - Broken promises

Councillor Berardinetti was committed to air transport, she promised air transport. On November 27, 2012 she told Toronto Council there were many planes, there was a pressurized plane waiting and that the flight to California was more humane than the 30hr truck transport to Florida. By January 2013 there were no planes? And an 65, 75, 80+hr? road transport to PAWS is ok? Demand answers! She made these statements at the  November 27, 2012 City Council Meeting  just a little over one month later they had NO PLANES and were lobbying the Royal Canadian Airforce for one?

What happened to…

ALL THE PLANES? THE MANY PLANES? THE PRESSURIZED PLANES? YOU KNOW, ALL THE MANY PRESSURIZED PLANES YOU PROMISED? BECAUSE ROAD TRANSPORT FOR 30HRS TO FLORIDA WAS SO HORRIBLE, THE ELEPHANTS WOULD BE “THROWN INTO TRANSPORT TRUCKS FOR OVER 30HRS”

We can only assume you found magic transport trucks that make

75+hrs seem like a 5 hour plane ride.

PAWS elephant training/transport Company and the Dolphin Slaughters of Taiji

Slaughtering dolphins in Taiji, Japan

Slaughtering dolphins in Taiji, Japan

Slaughtering innocent dolphins in the name of greed

Slaughtering innocent dolphins in the name of greed

PAWS, Active Environments, JV China and Ocean Adventures – The Disturbing Connection

Active Environments was hired by PAWS and Zoocheck to handle the transport of the Toronto Zoo elephants to PAWS Sanctuary. Claiming this inhumane 4200km transport to a facility with proven tuberculosis risks is some altruistic act of animal welfare Council and  the Zoo board and ignore the hypocrisy of working with a  company connected to the horrific Taiji, Japan slaughter of dolphins for the marine entertainment industry. Zoocheck lobbies against Marineland here in Ontario but ignores the connections of Active Environment to an issue of captivity they ideologically oppose.

The Performing Animal Welfare Society (PAWS) uses the services of Active Environments (www.activeenvironments.org), an animal behaviour consulting firm, to aid it with respect to training personnel in the use of protected contact to care for its elephants (www.pawsweb.org/protected_contact.html and www.activeenvironments.org/pdf/AE_Resume_Elephant_06.pdf). The firm has provided consulting services to a number of institutions that are members of the AZA concerning the implementation of protected contact management of elephants including the Detroit Zoo, the San Francisco Zoo, the Calgary Zoo, the Dallas Zoo, and the Woodland Park Zoo; a representative list of Active Environment’s clients can be found at www.activeenvironments.org/pdf/AE_Resume_Elephant_06.pdf. The first two Zoos mentioned above have transferred their elephants to PAWS and closed their elephant exhibits under pressure from animal welfare activists. The last three Zoos have been criticized by activists and urged to transfer their elephants to a sanctuary.

A review of Active Environments client list, services and business relationships have raised some troubling issues. Although there are no allegations of improprieties, this information nevertheless gives rise to some serious questions that may merit attention by animal welfare advocates. Among the organizations for which Active Environments has provided consulting services on positive reinforcement training techniques are a number of biomedical laboratories; they include University of Texas MD, Anderson Cancer Center in Science Park Texas, FDA Primate Unit in Maryland, Southwest Foundation for Biomedical Research in Texas, National Institutes of Health in Maryland, Yerkes Regional Primate Center in Georgia, and University of California at Berkley (see www.activeenvironments.org/pdf/AE_Resume_BehMgt_06.pdf and www.activeenvironments.org/pdf/AE_Workshops_Resume_06.pdf). According to an article entitled “Chimpanzees Trained To Cooperate With Animal Care” that appeared in the Cambridge Center for Behavioural Studies (www.behavior.org/resources/485.pdf) chimpanzees at the University of Texas MD Anderson Center Chimpanzee Housing Facility were trained to provide urine samples on cue, present various body parts voluntarily for examination (e.g., present a wounded finger for treatment, and open the mouth for inspection of teeth and throat), cooperate with hypodermic injections, safely have blood samples drawn, and enter a transport cage for shifting from one enclosure to another in collaboration with Active Environments. While it is laudable to work to improve the conditions of animals in biomedical laboratories, the relationship nevertheless is troublesome from an appearance perspective.

However, there are even more problematic relationships involving the officers of Active Environments, Tim Desmond, Gail Laule and Timothy J.Desmond and two other companies, JV China Inc and Ocean Adventure, in which some or all of them are officers (see Corporation Wiki at:  www.corporationwiki.com/California/Lompac/active-environments-inc/41115279.aspx; www.corporationwiki.com/California/Lompac/jv-china-inc-6032801.aspx; and http://savephilippineseas.com/2011/07/01/ocean-misadventure/).

Sorting out these relationships is difficult due to references in the media to a “Tim Desmond” when discussing these companies which make it unclear whether the reference is to Tim Desmond, President of Active Environments, or Timothy J. Desmond who according to Corporation Wiki was Secretary and Treasurer of Active Environments, and President of JV China, Inc. JV China Inc (JV China) was organized to act as a partner in joint ventures with Chinese companies to design, construct and manage aquariums in China featuring trained marine mammals. In 2000 JV China was involved in a contractual dispute involving its partner in the Beijing Aquarium concerning the safety and ownership of marine mammals provided to the Aquarium under the terms of a 6 year $11 million contract. The dispute is described in an article in the New York Times, which may be found at: http://www.nytimes.com/2000/04/03/world/at-a-beijing-aquarium-dolphins-are-hostages.html?pagewanted=all&src=pm, and an article appearing in the Peoples Daily at: http://english.peopledaily.com.cn/english/200004/17/eng20000417_39082.html.

The marine mammals were captured in 1999 during drive hunts in Taiji,Japan. These hunts are described in graphic detail in a report prepared by WDCS, the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society, entitled “Driven by Demand: Dolphin Hunts in Japan and the Involvement of the Aquarium Industry” (http://www.wdcs.org/submissions_bin/drivenbydemand.pdf; a copy of the report may also be found at http://www.zoocheck.com/Reportpdfs/DriveHunt%20report%20WDCS%2006.pdf). Dolphins and false killer whales are corralled in Japan and captured for use in the aquarium industry; those animals that are not sold to the aquarium industry are killed and eaten. Notably Zoocheck Canada campaigns against marine mammals in captivity, its related entertainment industry and the wild capture industry but also works with PAWS on campaigns against zoos and circuses on behalf of elephant and animal welfare.

The Cove

The Cove

According to the report prepared by WDCS, the animals formerly displayed at the Beijing Aquarium were exported to the Philippines for display at Ocean Adventure, an aquarium in Subic Bay which offers marine mammal shows as well as the opportunity for visitors to engage in animal encounters including swimming and diving with dolphins (see: www.oceanadventure.com.ph and http://www.oceanadventure.com.ph/animalencounters.html). Detailed information on the animals that were captured in the drive hunts in Japan and exported to Ocean Adventures appears on pages 21 through 23 of the WDCS report. Information may also be found in a blog posted by the Philippine NGO, Save the Philippine Seas, at:

www.savephilippineseas.com/2011/07/01/ocean-misadventure/, and in a report prepared by Singapore-based NGO, ACRES, with the support of the Earth Island Institute, entitled “Resorts World Sentosa’s Plans to House Wild-Caught Dolphins” (http://www.saddestdolphins.com/report/Acres%20-Resorts%20World’s%20Dolphins%20Report.pdf).

According to the report prepared by ACRES, dolphins captured in the Solomon Islands were purchased by Resorts World in 2009 and later sent to Ocean Adventure for training (see pages 9 and 26 through 27 of the report prepared by ACRES for more information including dates and places to which the animals were transferred).

Perhaps the most disturbing information with respect to the relationships between these companies and their activities is the description of Tim Desmond’s activities on behalf of Ocean Adventure in Taiji, Japan, and his statements in an interview with “BBC’s Undercover World: The Dolphin Hunters” in which Mr. Desmond describes himself as a conservationist because he is saving the dolphins from the hunter’s knives since if he did not purchase them, the dolphins would die.

Mr. Desmond is quoted as stating

“Every animal had a life expectancy of less than one day when we acquired them. These animals were either going to be taken alive or die.” (www.ecop.info/e-news/e-news-04-4qu.-6.htm); see also page 24 of the WDCS report (http://www.wdcs.org/submissions_bin/drivenbydemand.pdf) which quotes Mr. Desmond as stating in a letter to the Subic Bay Management Authority in December 2000:

“We went to Japan precisely because these were doomed animals …collection of our animals is a side-product. This was and is the lowest impact way to collect wild animals for public display. These are animals that have already been captured and are literally minutes from death.” WDCS goes on to state on that page: “It is WDCS’s opinion that this ‘rescue’ rationale to purchase cetaceans captured in drive hunts is misguided and belies the large sums of money paid by aquaria for individual whales and dolphins captured alive in the hunts”.

1000s die so toursits can do this?

1000s die so tourists can do this?

It goes without saying that the activities of JV China and Ocean Adventure as described in these reports and the BBC documentary contravene the beliefs of both animal rights activists and those who support zoos. The connection between these firms and Active Environments needs some explanation since it raises troublesome questions for anyone who is provided with animal behaviour consulting services by the firm.

Toronto City Council has used the use of bullhooks in AZA elephant programs across North America as a major argument regarding their opposition to the National Elephant Center, stating that in their opinion it is an “inhumane” practise, innately abusive. The bullhook issue has dominated the argument against TNEC. So if we are to take issue with AZA zoological facilities for a management practise Council deems inhumane then I feel we also need to consider ideologically the inhumane practises of Ocean Adventure/Active Environments with regard to their participation in what is considered to be a globally disgraceful and horrific act of brutality—the Japanese Dolphin Drive Hunts.

If we as a city and a zoo are going to sever our relationships with organizations such as AZA and CAZA because Councillors claim they represent cruelty then we also must sever our ties with Active Environments based on those same principals

So we are against “BULLHOOKS” but this is ok?bloodbath

Now that you are fully versed in this connection between Active Environments and Ocean Adventures in order to maintain consistency in this animal rights platform City Councillors have chosen to cloak themselves with in recent months it is only right and moral to consider any relationship with an

organization which participates in these drive hunts immoral and not in keeping with the animal welfare platforms of both our zoo and our city. If not then I imagine we must reconsider our stance on facilities which utilize bullhooks.

This would also appear to be the mandate of our zoo board which based on the no bullhook criteria laid out regarding the transfer of our elephants is also against any form of unnecessary animal cruelty. Purchasing marine mammals from the Japanese Drive hunts is clearly the worst kind of animal cruelty imaginable. As a citizen I take offense to this organization having anything to do with our zoo and our elephants. I don’t think I need to explain the hypocrisy of Council, PAWS and Zoocheck utilizing or supporting the services of this company. If all accredited AZA zoos are going to be considered by council as substandard or abusive as a result of their connections to the AZA or the use of bullhooks then by that same logic AE should also be judged for their connections and direct business affiliations via Ocean Adventures with this dolphin slaughter as it is far more cruel than any bullhook could ever be.

Tuberculosis Risks in African Herd at PAWS

There is a documented risk for the Toronto Zoo African elephants

Calle and Tuberculosis

https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B5WlBT7uQTbwNjJaYnV1VHNQUTA/edit?usp=drive_web

The on-line publication of Freedom of Information documents in April of 2012  FORCED PAWS, Zoocheck and Toronto City Councillors to admit what  they had all failed to inform the public or the zoo of for months and in some cases blatantly denied.  The PAWS coalition led  the public to believe that there were no tuberculosis risks, no tuberculosis outbreaks or transmission. After the first USDA FOIA was released they claimed that the Tuberculosis outbreak was only amongst their Asian elephants and that there were no risks to the African herd.

STATPAK didn’t diagnose Rebecca while she was tuberculosis positive and they didn’t even know she had Tuberculosis again until she died? She had Tuberculosis before surely there was some reaction on the test. Did they misdiagnose the STATPAK results and assume it was residual from her previous infection with the disease?

If the diagnostics for Tuberculosis (STATPAK and Trunk wash) failed to diagnose active Tuberculosis in the Asian herd which resulted in Tuberculosis on site transmission.

THEN

Those same diagnostics cannot be counted on to diagnose the African herd.

Did they possibly also misdiagnose Ruby’s STATPAKS? She had been treated before, was there a residual of the disease assumed to be inactive?

Where are Ruby’s tissue cultures? She had a bronchial mass on her lung at time of necropsy.

  • NO TISSUE CULTURES WERE DONE to determine whether the mass was tuberculosis – WHY?
  • she had a high risk history of exposure and was even treated as a precautionary measure at the LA Zoo
  • She was exposed to the infected Asian herd at PAWS for 2 years when she lived in the SHARED barn with ALL the elephants
  • PAWS fought tooth and nail to prevent Toronto Zoo vets from reviewing deceased elephant’s necropsy and medical reports – WHY?
  • PAWS has never complied with the Toronto Zoo vets requests for the tissue cultures for two deceased African elephants Ruby and 71
  • If they were so confident that their herd was Tuberculosis free why then didn’t they just have the cultures done so it was documented?

Tinkerbelle had just left the San Francisco Zoo where her herd mate Calle had died from tuberculosis. You can see Pat Derby is not wearing any protective gear as if she has magical powers which can protect her and others, human and animal from infection

Calle had lived with Annie and Gita  at the LA Zoo, Annie died from tuberculosis as well. Gita went on to live with Ruby. After Gita died Ruby went to PAWS. That is a pretty intense history of exposure to this disease. Enough that the bronchial mass on her lung should have been cultured for the disease.

If you love elephants so much why would you leave this as an unknown and put not only your current elephants at risk but also bring new elephants into the herd and put them at risk also?

This is animal welfare?

Or is this a mandate?

Toronto Zoo vet shave been censored by City Hall and PAWS claim they have “legal” obligations to the elephants’ previous owners which gives them the right to disallow the zoo vets from making their findings public.

Ruby’s previous owners was the LA Zoo –

By keeping the information about Ruby’s lung mass a “secret” the zoo and its staff are being unfairly accused of unnecessary delays – tuberculosis predominantly affects the lung tissues. This failure to culture was irresponsible, there is no logical explanation for it. Surely PAWS knew that the Toronto Zoo elephants were going to be relocated, Ruby died just two months before the Zoo board made its announcement to phase out the exhibit. We know that Zoocheck lobbied right away to have PAWS included as a potential home for the elephants.

It is all just a little too convenient. Without Ruby’s tissue cultures no one can prove she had tuberculosis or that she didn’t have tuberculosis. However the supporting evidence and arguments indicating that there is a potential risk are much more powerful than the evidence being argued to deny the risks.

Toronto Zoo Elephants Death by Dogma?

20130924-083929.jpg

Just what will the 4200km road transport of the Toronto Zoo elephant entail?

Good question, sadly the transport plans appear to be top secret, FOIA is seemingly not available and the Zoo now refers any questions about the transport to PAWS. The Zoo’s CEO John Tracogna and zoo board chair Joe Torzsok clearly want to appease  the will of council at any cost maybe at the cost of these elephant’s lives. Council rules supreme, they are accountable to no one but their own egos.

There has been nothing stopping either of these individuals from speaking out to the media, to stand up and declare that they are against this transfer but must kowtow  to the will of Toronto City politicians who have claimed control and power over the fate of these elephants. To protect their jobs or positions on the board and perhaps future career opportunities they have said nothing, absolutely nothing at all in defense of these elephant’s lives, in defense if the zoological expert opposition. Their sole mandate is to exercise the inhumane demands of the non-experts at Toronto City Council. How can you run a zoo when the welfare of the animals comes second to the needs of politicians?

What we do know about the transport plan is that it requires one elephant on one flatbed truck with two others on another truck. Of course they will be chained on three legs in their crates but the trucks are not enclosed. The two elephants on one truck is of great concern, once again the Zoo’s CEO shows a total lack of knowledge, experience or seeming concern for the welfare of these elephants. He has been advised by his senior vet staff and the zoo’s animal care committee that this proposed plan is unsafe and inhumane. He went ahead and approved the plan against opposition from his entire senior staff and vets as well as industry experts. Because everyone knows politicians and anti zoo organizations are brimming with experience in zoological care and impartiality.

The Toronto Zoo elephants are protected contact. This means they cannot be loaded or offloaded in a manner lets say that circus elephants are, freely and at will. Once they are on the trucks they can only be offloaded safely at a secure facility which has the means to house them, both indoors and out. Generally this would have to be a zoological facility. Accommodating one elephant is reasonable three is another story. Since it appears Zoocheck cannot afford the air transport they promised as a means to acquire council votes and public approval to send these elephants to PAWS and they are undertaking the cheapest mode of transport possible do they have the money to pay a zoological facility the required fees if the need to offload arises? Or will they just drive non stop straight through?

Cranes are required to lift the crates and place them on to the trucks. The elephants will be chained on three legs without the ability to move, turn or lie down. It will be difficult for the older elephants to maintain healthy blood circulation. In case of an animal going down due to an emergency belly straps are placed beneath the animal and secured on either side of the crate. So imagine if the first elephant loaded on the two-elephant truck goes into medical distress. First a zoological facility will have to be contacted, next a crane will have to be ordered to either meet the truck at the location of the emergency if it is life threatening and the animal needs to be removed from the crates immediately or meet them at a facility for offload. There is no way to predict how long it will take to drive the elephant to a facility as we cannot predict where and when an emergency could happen. Whether or not they remove the second crate in order to access the distressed animal the belly straps will be attached to the crane and the animal will be removed, like this:

20130924-081502.jpg

Example of how belly straps and crane are used to lift an elephant

20130924-081702.jpg

The crates will be exposed to the elements during transport. As the trucks drive into the cooler temperatures of the rocky mountain weather systems night time temps can go as low as 35° F/1°C. Whether or not there are heating and cooling systems in place is unknown as the plan has been kept a secret. The crates have slats which allow outside air to flow in and out so it seems any form of heating or cooling system would be pointless anyway.

Now of course our elephants are used to colder temperatures but they are not used to having cold wind blasting on them as they travel down a highway at higher altitudes all the while having to flex muscles systems and strain their legs to accommodate the sway of the vehicles, acceleration and deceleration. Perhaps this would be easier on younger elephants or elephants trained to travel but training elephants to stand in a stationary crate in the psychological comfort of the home they have known their entire lives is no preparation for the rigours of real transport at any distance let alone 4200km. They will be scared, stressed and physically at risk as a result. This experience will be terrifying for them, fear increases stress and stress brings physiological risks in an elephant which can cause rapid death. Have you ever tried to save a baby bird? And despite all the efforts you took to help it it died within hours? This is because it is so terrified having been “captured” that it’s heart rate increases to lethal levels. This increases that lactic acid in the animals system and without the ability to reduce those levels it has deadly results.

Capture Myopathy – A very real threat

“where the muscles are working very hard, they use oxygen faster than the blood can supply it. This creates an oxygen deficiency. Instead of producing carbon dioxide, the muscles produce lactic acid. If the lactic acid builds up in the muscle cells it destroys cell membranes causing muscle damage and the release of cell contents. When enough muscle cells are damaged capture myopathy occurs. Death can occur from shock, electrolyte imbalances, or from muscle damage itself.”

In the case of capture myopathy muscle tissues can be permanently damaged and its fatal results can occur immediately or within weeks. The best and sometimes only treatment for capture myopathy is prevention. It is common in wild animals but has been known to affect captive animals. In the case of the Storybook Zoo seal deaths during the Zoocheck initiated transport from London, Ontario to the St. Louis zoo it is thought that capture myopathy was the cause, the seals were young and healthy. Three out of the four perished, two in transport and one later at the zoo. Stress and fear killed them, transport killed them. In the case of the two older Toronto Zoo elephants Toka and Iringa, if one of them goes down during transport it is very likely it will never get back up again.

20130924-081814.jpg

This is the only way to remove a downed elephant from a crate

How the CEO of our zoo and Toronto City council can approve of this road transport is unimaginable. They cried animal welfare down at city hall, patted themselves on the backs as heros, they hailed “sanctuary” as the only answer for our elephants and ignored industry expert opposition. They ignored tuberculosis risks at the sanctuary and they denounced the 30hr road trip to The National Elephant Center in Florida as inhumane but in order to cater to their extremist dogma they silently approved of an 80+ hr transport as ok. How is 30hrs inhumane and 80hrs is not? Does the destination magically make the journey less deadly? Anyone who believes this is an extremist without the rational intellect to separate their cult-like beliefs from reality.

We fear the last images we will have of one or more of the Toronto Zoo elephants will be this:

20130924-082434.jpg

Will this be the fate of Toronto Zoo elephants?

20130924-082400.jpg

Will Toronto City Council be held accountable if this happens?

20130924-082448.jpg

20130924-082506.jpg

Could the last image of Toronto Zoo elephants look something like this?

Who will they all blame? They will blame the zoo staff for delays, as if 2 years would have made the difference. Iringa, the oldest elephant could not have travelled by truck at all two years ago due to a foot ailment. It has only recently begun to heal thanks to the world class vet care at the Toronto Zoo. There was no transport plan two years ago, planes were promised and we now know they were never able to make good on this promise, ever! The road transport plan was just secretly agreed upon by Zoocheck and the Ceo in the early spring of 2013 when they realized the Royal Canadian Air Force could not compete with the commercial air transport offer Zoocheck and PAWS mysteriously turned down. They did not have the common decency or concern enough for the elephants welfare to inform the elephant management staff in charge of training for transport that the mode of transport had been changed. They knew they were planning road transport as early as March 2013 and didn’t tell staff or the media until September, 7 months later! The new crates just arrived at the zoo at the beginning of September, 2013. The first crates were built incorrectly and the wrong size due to yet again more bungling by Zoocheck and Paws which had the incorrect measurements of the elephants. And of course to outline delays and who is responsible for them we could go all the way back to 2011/2012 and  the lack of honest disclosure by Paws to the zoo and the people of Toronto about tuberculosis transmission on site and tuberculosis deaths at the sanctuary. The only people to blame in this fiasco are city councillors and the extremist animal rights egos of Zoocheck Canada and PAWS. If these elephants die in transport Zoocheck will have a perfect record for animal deaths during transport. I wonder if they  have an award for that?

With the recent transport of a young bull from Calgary to Florida we have been able to determine a timeline for travel, how long the Toronto Zoo transfer might take. It is certainly not anywhere near the transport time they have been spewing to the media. The young bull, an experienced road transport traveller arrived at his destination in 75 hrs. This include multiple stops. Three older elephants with two on one truck means a considerably slower and longer drive. Flooding, forest fires and now the onset of an early winter in Colorado and Utah all come together to create what could now be a road trip which could exceed 100 hrs!

100hrs is humane according to City Council and animal rights groups.

They will stop at nothing to get these elephants. Because our elephants are now poster children which represent a victory against zoos on behalf of the anti zoo movement. They are being used to promote a cause and their welfare is secondary to the cause, and that is what we call exploitation.

Exploitation is the use of someone or something in an unjust or cruel manner.

The act of employing to the greatest possible advantage

 Utilization of another person or group (or elephants) for selfish purposes
 An advertising or a publicity program.

Toronto Zoo Elephants – A diplomatic sacrifice in the name of Trade Deals

panda-elephants_1472601i

Pandamonium?

As the Toronto Zoo braced for the arrival of two pandas from Chengdun, China I could only stop and wonder; If the three Toronto zoo elephants were iconic pop culture images of conservation as pandas have become around the world would more people care about how they were sacrificed to aid the Prime Minister in a trade deal with China?

In fact to aid a multiple of people’s careers and self interest causes?

They are now slated for an inhumane 4200km road transport and transfer to the PAWS sanctuary in California which has proven tuberculosis risks and a now documented TB outbreak. All facts, science and expert industry opposition to this transfer is ignored. But alas when it comes to pandas and elephants the issues are not just black and white.

WTF?

Councillor Cho gets an award from anti-zoo organization Zoocheck Canada

We have talked alot about Toronto Councillors Berardinetti and DeBaeremaker and their role in this fiasco. We mention Councillor Cho but we don’t often discuss his motive behind getting rid of our elephants. Oh he plays up the animal welfare storyline as if he was going for an Oscar but let’s look at the facts and the timeline and learn a little bit about Councillor Cho.

A little bit about Councillor Cho you might want to read here

Some excerpts:

“On August 13, 2004, the Toronto Star reported that Cho spent nearly all of his allotted councillor expense fund, one of the highest on city council. While there was some speculation that some of this money was diverted to Cho’s failed bid to run in the federal election campaign,”

“Cho was a New Democratic Party candidate for election to the Canadian House of Commons in the 1988 federal election and was initially identified as a New Democrat when he joined Metro Council, however, he soon became an ally and supporter of thenMetropolitan Toronto Chairman Alan Tonks and dropped his NDP affiliation. He subsequently took out membership in the Liberal Party though, like most non-NDP municipal politicians in Ontario he did not run on a party label in municipal elections.”

“He ran in the 2004 federal election as an independent candidate in Scarborough—Rouge River. Cho called himself an “independent Liberal”, and used the Liberal Party of Canada‘s red-and-white colours for his campaign materials. He was accused of trying to mislead voters by the official Liberal candidate, Derek Lee. Lee, who has been the MP since 1988 said that Cho caused some controversy by claiming to have been shut out of the candidate nomination process.”

“In 2005, Cho expressed interest in being the Ontario Liberal Party‘s candidate in the Scarborough—Rouge River provincial by-electionwhich was made necessary by the appointment of incumbent Liberal MPP Alvin Curling to a diplomatic position. However, the Liberal riding association used a clause of its constitution to declare another city councillor, Bas Balkissoon, as its candidate without a contested nomination process.”

“In 2012, Cho was named as the Progressive Conservative candidate for the provincial riding of Scarborough-Rouge River. This was done in anticipation of a spring 2013 election”

Whew that is a lot of political party ping pong for one man, thank god for pandas and elephants because he finally has his opportunity!

Timeline; Some relevant events.

March 5,2010

http://www.torontozoo.com/pdfs/Toronto%20Zoo%20New%20CEO.pdf

December 12, 2010

http://baldominaudo.com/panda-bears-and-mammoliti-whats-the-story/

In 2010 Councillor Cho and Councillor Mammoliti were lobbying the zoo and the city to begin negotiations to acquire two pandas from China. The cost would be exorbitant but they were committed to find a way. By 2011 they were backed by the newly elected Zoo Board Chair Joe Torzsok.

Coincidentally at the same time Prime Minister Stephen Harper was working on new and massive trade deals with China. Further coincidentally of the two zoos which are hosting the pandas, Toronto for the first five years and Calgary for the next five, both phased out their elephant exhibits. Calgary had a very successful elephant program; it is a curiosity as to why they did this but it seems pandas rule supreme in Alberta and Ontario.

Here is a little timeline of this panda deal from news articles of relevant events.

Jan 12, 2011

http://www.ipolitics.ca/2011/01/12/trade-deal-with-china-will-bolster-seal-industry-shea/

March 2, 2011

http://torontoobserver.ca/2011/03/02/new-zoo-chair-wants-panda-exhibit-

despite-defeated-rivals-opposition/

October 10, 2011

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/trade-minister-seeks-key-deal-in-china-1.1033111

February 11, 2012

http://www.cbc.ca/news/world/harper-s-china-visit-ends-with-panda-pact-1.1144815

December 18, 2012

http://www.torontosun.com/2012/12/18/councillor-raymond-cho-to-run-for-ontario-conservatives

Councillor Cho becomes one of the lead negotiators for the pandas. In early 2012 the deal is struck. But remember way back in May of 2011? Just 2 months before the decision to phase out our elephants the newly elected Zoo Board chair Torzsok declares his commitment to pandas, barely 6 months earlier John Tracogna was hired as the new CEO of the Zoo. Shortly after Tracogna was hired a study of the zoo’s elephant program was commissioned which ultimately was the catalyst for the decision to phase out the exhibit and move the elephants.

The year Tracogna was hired, late 2010  was at the same time talks of pandas had begun as the Prime Minister negotiated with China on trade deals. It seems rather coincidental that at a time when money is needed desperately to acquire the rent a pandas, and the Prime Minister is trying to appease a giant trade deal with China that suddenly one of the most expensive exhibits to maintain at our zoo is shut down. Were the elephants just a diplomatic sacrifice?

li-harpers-panda-cp-0211367

Maybe the answers to these questions about why our elephants were so quickly and recklessly disposed of  is actually blatantly black and white, so in your face that the media is missing it altogether. In the form of two rent-a-pandas from China? In 2009 The Toronto Zoo Board was actually considering upgrading their elephant habitat and facilities. By May of 2011 they had decided to shut down the exhibit and by the Fall of 2011 Toronto City Council overrode the zoo’s professional authority and seized the elephants as assets of the city.

So let’s look at how pandas replaced our elephants. Prime Minister Harper wanted a showy and profitable trade deal with China. That pretty much started in 2009/2010. The new CEO is hired in fall 2010, new zoo board chair elected in the spring of 2011 and the elephant exhibit is phased out on May 11, 2011. China, in exchange for this sweet deal “gave” Canada a couple of pandas. But they are not free, we are paying for them and we also paid for the 10+ million dollars to create an exhibit and for rental fees for their five year tenure here in Toronto.

10 million? More than enough to kick start a new elephant exhibit and more than enough to at least provide some funding to fly the elephants humanely to any facility. But I imagine when your Prime Minister tells you he wants pandas and you have to choose elephants or pandas you choose in favour of your Prime Minister. Well I would not have made this decision but then again I don’t have designs on a career in politics either.

Of course if you are lobbying for self serving political opportunity and hobnobbing with the considered upper crust of Canadian politics you do whatever you can to make the Prime Minister happy. This truly was panda vs elephant and our elephants didn’t stand a chance. Coincidentally Councillor Raymond Cho, who travelled to China on behalf of the zoo and according to his twitter is apparently Ms. Laureen Harpers new BFF was recently given the Provincial Conservative candidate nomination in his riding despite years of NDP/Liberal support. What a nice reward for all his hard work on the panda deal.

Who else will benefit politically from all of this panda wheeling and dealing? Certainly not the Toronto Zoo Elephants.

Seems the Zoo Board chair Joe Torzsock was on board from the moment he became zoo board chair.

Seems the zoos CEO John Tracogna was on board the moment he was hired.

Seems Councillor Cho had his political sights set much higher than Toronto City Council.

It is particularly ironic to hail the pandas as an opportunity to teach people about conservation as elephants, the ivory trade and wild elephant population decimation for Asian markets are in fact daily news worldwide save for Canada. While pandas are reproduced assembly line style in China elephants are being slaughtered en masse (40,000 last year alone) for their ivory in the tens of thousands and at the recent CITES convention China essentially refused to make efforts to curb its country’s lust for ivory and rhino horn and any other number of threatened and endangered species which China enjoys eating, drinking and decorating themselves with.

Yes China! We are putting the words conservation and China in the same sentence and for anyone who knows anything about China and its abuse of animals this is completely ludicrous. They use pandas to seal trade deals all over the world http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-24161385.

China, the country where this is the latest fashion trend

Yes you are looking at the picture correctly, they place small turtles in sealed bags and wear them as a necklaces or keychains. They slowly suffocate, sadly the turtles not the idiots wearing them.

Turtle-Necklace

They like bear bile

bearincage

pangolin-soup

  And Pangolins in soup

 And sell dog and cat fur trim for western fashion statements

dog-meat-5_1535667a

feeding decorative fashion markets around the world cats and dogs are ruthlessly slaughtered and sometimes inhumanely skinned alive

Rhino horn is popular:

slaughtered rhino

China and other asian countries use rhino horn as medicine and “natural” Viagra

 

And tiger fetus wine

fetus

Yes they like to drink wine which has been fermented with the fetus of endangered species

And Shark fin soup

HongKongSharkFin-621x333

Abalone poaching is destroying great white shark habitats

And Lets not forget tiger farms and their lust for Ivory

China farms tigers like cattle for their medicinal markets

elephant slaughtered

to feed ivory markets in Asia Ivory poaching also funds weapons black market

The list could go on and on and on.

This is merely the tip of the iceberg, literally thousands of species of flora and fauna are being devoured by an insatiable nation bent of consuming every last resource and and endangered species on this planet. They are causing the extinctions! They are kind of like the aliens in the movie Independence Day; you know when the captured alien telepathically tells the President  that they travel from planet to planet devouring the resources and then move on.

China has invaded Africa, pumping money into a continent desperate for investment. In exchange for this money, the money we pump into China in the name of cheap products and our own apathy China reaps the rewards of Africa’s natural resources. And not coincidentally there has been an increase in rhino and elephant poaching in the last 5 years, a dramatic increase which in fact threatens these species very survival and is pushing them closer an closer to extinction.

And now they are coming to Canada! Hooray! We are celebrating conservation with a nation which is literally directly responsible for the devastation and extinction of thousands of plant and animal species. But they “save” pandas and pandas are cute and fuzzy and make for great photo opportunities and excellent trade deals.

We deserve answers. We deserve to know who made all these deals which have ended in our elephants being forcibly and deliberately exposed to a dangerous disease deadly to elephants. Which has them being inhumanely transported 4200km on a truck?

Who?

The Prime Minister? His wife? Toronto City councillors? The Zoo CEO? Or maybe even citizen zoo board members looking to take that leap into the political realm?

Who will take responsibility when they die?

In the name of greed, money and political power.

We are committed to finding those answers in the name of democratic rights and freedoms, in the name of every single wild species being decimated by China’s ignorance and greed and in the name of three elephants, Thika Toka and Iringa. We submitted Freedom of Information requests to City Council, asking for FOIA from Councillor Cho, he refused to comply. We would have to submit a $25 appeal fee to force the Councillor to do his job. He wants to run for Provincial government? Well with all his refusals and secrecy he will fit right in. Just what exactly is he hiding anyway?

World’s Best Disease Prevention Protocols? A tuberculosis outbreak at PAWS Sanctuary

Did you know?
rebecca.gai.TBIn January of 2011 a female Asian elephant named Rebecca died at PAWS. Id like to list what PAWS claimed her cause of death was but they don’t seem to list her on their website along with the other elephants living or deceased. She along with Tinkerbelle and Tamara don’t seem to get memorial status as other elephants like Sabu, 71 or Ruby get.

January 2011 was just five months before the Toronto Zoo announced it was going to phase out its elephant exhibit. It is likely that zoo board member and city councillor Glenn DeBaeremaker knew about the report being conducted which had been ordered by new CEO John Tracogna to evaluate the possibility of phasing out the African exhibit and moving the Toronto elephants to a new home.

Timing is very important here.

Without asking the zoo membership, who might have preferred to fundraise for exhibit expansion and upgrades the zoo board made the official announcement in May 2011.  Zoocheck Canada immediately began lobbying with Councillor Debaeremaeker for the zoo to consider PAWS along with the 7 other zoological facilities being considered as a potential new home for the elephants. The board had laid out several criteria for the consideration of a new facility, a couple of key points would be:

  • no facility which used free contact management with the use of an elephant hook (the Toronto Elephants are protected contact)
  • no facilities on the west coast due to the logistics of transport not the least of which was what the zoological professionals considered was a trip too arduous in particular for the two older elephants, Toka, 43yrs and Iringa 44yrs
  • and finally no facility with past or present issue with tuberculosis.

They immediately ruled out the elephant sanctuary in Tennessee as they had a documented TB outbreak in 2009 and then a subsequent shake up in their organizational structure with the firing of the sanctuary’s founder Carol Buckley.

Some of you are probably wondering how on earth did the zoo board make the decision to send the elephants to PAWS? After they knew PAWS had a tuberculosis outbreak amongst their Asian elephants and had not been forthcoming about it. Well they didn’t, they were ordered to do so by Toronto City Council, led by two zoo board members, Councillor DeBaeremaeker and Councillor Cho and another Councillor, Michelle Berardinetti. They seized control of the elephants as city assets and just chose PAWS without any site visits or due diligence. Just motivated by their emotionally driven personal opinions, anti-zoo propaganda from Zoocheck Canada and kept alive all this time by their egos and extremist ideologies these elephants lives could be at risk, not once but two times now that a 4200km road trip has been added to this reckless decision. You can see Rebecca’s necropsy report here (start p.24) which was made public in April of 2012 after it was accessed via Freedom of Information requests to California State Health.

So now back to PAWS. When the news came out finally via Freedom of Information documents in the spring of 2012 that PAWS had a TB outbreak and that Rebecca had actually died tuberculosis positive the coalition of the PAWS supporting councillors, Zoocheck and PAWS themselves claimed that PAWS had the world’s best disease prevention protocols. It is a catchy sound byte for the media but was it true? We will let you judge that based on the following facts and information;

A particular document amongst our FOIA from California State Health caught our eye. In it PAWS vet Dr. Gai, at the time of Rebecca’s death claimed to State Health Officials that they had no idea Rebecca was tuberculosis positive until after she died. Dr. Gai goes on to say that as a result they wore no protective gear. Further documentation evidenced that three elephants, Gypsy, Wanda and Annie were exposed to Rebecca’s TB. The PAWS coalition claimed that there had been quarantines in place but eventually further evidence indicated that these three herdmates of Rebecca had been exposed and two had shown reactions on the STATPAK tests, they knew this as early as June 2011, almost five months before council overruled the professionals at the zoo and seized control of the elephants fate.

By June of 2012 Annie sero-converted to active Tuberculosis. Her strain of TB matched one of the two strains found in Rebecca at the time of her death, pretty conclusive evidence that Rebecca infected Annie. And that is on-site transmission and that is also disease prevention protocol failure. The claim of having the SAY  NO TEXT TSHIRTworld’s best disease prevention protocols was ludicrous to begin with. Tuberculosis is hard to diagnose and hard to treat, no one can make that claim least of all a facility which didn’t even know an animal was actively infected and dying from the disease. We don’t necessarily begrudge PAWS for having trouble with this disease and they did willingly take in animals known to have the disease so one could commend them for that act of kindness. However one cannot accept their lack of honest disclosure about their TB issues in order to acquire the Toronto Zoo elephants at any cost or the subsequent denials in the media when evidence clearly showed the opposite of their claims was true.

All the while the PAWS coalition were slamming and vilifying the Toronto Zoo staff for having concerns about the disease. If PAWS had been honest from the beginning the zoo board would have ruled them out as a potential home for the Toronto Zoo elephants.

Yes, we know the outbreak was amongst their Asian elephants and not their Africans; you can refer to this blog post to read our thoughts and review our evidence about TB risks within the African herd. Both diagnostic tools (STATPAK and Trunk Wash) failed to diagnose TB in the Asian herd so to claim those same diagnostics clear the African herd of disease makes no sense. Add in the fact that the Asians and Africans shared one barn for almost 5 years and you have what is called a disease risk factor. World class disease prevention protocols do not house a herd with high risk tuberculosis exposure and positive infection histories with another herd just because you don’t have the money to build the necessary other barns which increase your ability to keep animals safe from deadly disease transmission. They had one barn for all the female elephants, both species from 2002-2009. In the case of the TB outbreak at the Tennessee sanctuary the disease was able to travel through ventilation systems with as a result of the use of power washers and infect people working in the adjacent offices.  It is not hard to imagine that in a barn with no barriers at all that the disease could easily spread. There was no quarantine facility at PAWS until after Sabu died of TB in January of 2012 and his old barn space became available. Sabu was another elephant whose death from tuberculosis was essentially kept secret from the officials at the Toronto Zoo. They still claim he died from euthanasia due to severe arthritis at age 29yrs even though his necropsy reports state he was TB+ at the time of his death.

All efforts by Toronto Zoo vets to contact and work with the PAWS friendly anti captivity Elephant specialist at the USDA,  Dr. Denise Sofranko were ignored. She refused to work with the Toronto Zoo vets to assist them with their investigation of tuberculosis at PAWS. At a September 25, 2012 press conference the zoo’s senior vet Dr. Graham Crawshaw spoke to the media. He said that PAWS had been uncooperative and unprofessional regarding their efforts to acquire more information to complete their due diligence, including tissue cultures for an African elephant named Ruby who had died with a bronchial mass on her lung just three months after Rebecca. The mass had not been cultured for tuberculosis, she had a high risk and documented history of exposure to the disease when she lived at the LA Zoo and of course from living in the shared barn at PAWS. Pat Derby had a history of engaging in free contact with all the elephants at PAWS, there are literally hundreds of photographs evidencing this, Ruby had been one of her favourites.

The city adopted the Dr. Cork report as an independent infectious disease report to override the zoo’s due diligence process and consider the due diligence to be complete. This report did not include the outstanding medical documents the zoo state is needed. This outstanding information are tissue cultures for two deceased African elephants, Ruby and 71. Since the Toronto Zoo elephants are Africans clearly those cultures are necessary to determine the disease risk factors within the very herd they are to be integrated in to. Those cultures are still outstanding. Our extensive FOIA requests to the USDA, California State Health, and the Center for Disease Control was unable to access these culture reports. They don’t exist, they were never done. Apparently the politicians at City Council are willing to take this risk with the elephant’s lives in order to remain infallible and adhere to their personal dogma.

We ask this often but would you let someone do this to your pets? Force your dog to live at a facility with similar disease prevention failures and risk factors? No one who cared about their pets or any animal would allow this to happen so it is hard to understand why people think this is OK for the Toronto Zoo elephants.

TB kills

Toronto Council uses paid advocacy to override Toronto Zoo experts

crates copy

The significance of the Dr. Cork Report

It was used by council to override the zoo’s due diligence report.

It was commissioned by Zoocheck Canada who is exempt from lobbyist code of conduct and rules because they are a not for profit however Zoocheck acts as agents on behalf of PAWS in Toronto and has lobbied the matter of the Toronto Zoo elephants  for years.

The Dr. Cork report was presented to the November 27, 2012 council meeting one hour before council discussed the elephant transfer status and voted to override the zoo’s professional authority again.

Dr. Cork was given access at the PAWS sanctuary and information (medical) which was not granted to Toronto Zoo vets and staff when they conducted their site visit and due diligence. The PAWS friendly USDA Elephant Field Specialist Dr. Denise Sofranko would not even return the calls to the Toronto Zoo vets. In fact throughout much of the time between November 2011 and April 2012 PAWS, Zoocheck and councillors denied TB at PAWS. Not until the FOIA from the USDA came out in April, 2012 did they finally admit it and even then still maintained that of the two TB+ deceased elephants the Bull Sabu died from euthanasia due to severe arthritis…not TB.  USDA necropsy reports stated they were both TB+ post mortem. NO media outlet has called them out on this.

Here is the order of events:

Councillor Berardinetti submits the Dr. Cork report at the November 27 City Council meeting. Elephants were discussed at approximately 5pm, the report was submitted to the clerk at approximately 4pm. Zoo staff had about 40 minutes to review it.

Part 1: This is a downloaded version of how the report was submitted and how it is listed at the city’s website:

https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B5WlBT7uQTbwMEN3eDR5M1FKVEE/edit?usp=drive_web

Part 2.  with an addition by Dr. Mel Richardson, PAWS vet who worked for them when trunk wash data appears to go missing during 2007-2011 and just prior to TB source elephant’s death and when deceased African elephant Ruby’s bronchial mass tissues are not sent for TB culture. At the Executive committee meeting he had no idea how many elephants died while he worked there:

He is a hired advocate for organizations such as Born Free USA, (Zoocheck’s American affiliate) PETA and In Defense of Animals, council took his “expertise” over our vets.

Council uses this report and a biased CBC 5th Estate documentary to override the due diligence of the Toronto Zoo vets and staff. Of note the producers of that documentary met with us and had access to all the USDA evidence which outlines quite clearly TB is an issue on site at PAWS Ark2000 and they chose to use none of it or even discuss it. However the producers also contacted the Zoo’s CEO who in turn refused to communicate with them, censored by City Council. How nice how it all wraps up in a neat and tidy package for the councillors who wanted to doctor and manipulate this transfer in favour of their ideology and political careers.

 This is the due diligence report and background: 

https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B5WlBT7uQTbwenBZaWozS01nZHM/edit

http://app.toronto.ca/tmmis/viewAgendaItemHistory.do?item=2012.EX24.30

Background Information (Committee)

(October 18, 2012) Report from the Chief Executive Officer, Toronto Zoo on Elephant Transfer Status Update (http://www.toronto.ca/legdocs/mmis/2012/ex/bgrd/backgroundfile-51348.pdf)(September 25, 2012) Memo with Attachments, from the Toronto Zoo on Elephant Transfer Status (http://www.toronto.ca/legdocs/mmis/2012/ex/bgrd/backgroundfile-51354.pdf)

Background Information (City Council)

(November 20, 2012) Supplementary report from the Chief Executive Officer, Toronto Zoo on the Elephant Transfer Due Diligence Review

(EX24.30a) (http://www.toronto.ca/legdocs/mmis/2012/cc/bgrd/backgroundfile-52360.pdf)

Attachment 1 to the report (November 20, 2012) from the Chief Executive Officer,

Toronto Zoo – Due Diligence

Review (http://www.toronto.ca/legdocs/mmis/2012/cc/bgrd/backgroundfile-52363.pdf)

Attachment 1 to the Due Diligence Review (http://www.toronto.ca/legdocs/mmis/2012/cc/bgrd/backgroundfile-52364.pdf)

Attachment 2 to the Due Diligence Review (http://www.toronto.ca/legdocs/mmis/2012/cc/bgrd/backgroundfile-52366.pdf)

Attachment 3 to the Due Diligence Review (http://www.toronto.ca/legdocs/mmis/2012/cc/bgrd/backgroundfile-52367.pdf)

Attachment 4 to the Due Diligence Review (http://www.toronto.ca/legdocs/mmis/2012/cc/bgrd/backgroundfile-52368.pdf)

Attachment 5 to the Due Diligence Review (http://www.toronto.ca/legdocs/mmis/2012/cc/bgrd/backgroundfile-52369.pdf)

Attachment 6 to the Due Diligence Review (http://www.toronto.ca/legdocs/mmis/2012/cc/bgrd/backgroundfile-52370.pdf)

Attachment 2 to the report (November 20, 2012) from the Chief Executive Officer, Toronto Zoo (http://www.toronto.ca/legdocs/mmis/2012/cc/bgrd/backgroundfile-52361.pdf)

Attachment 3 to the report (November 20, 2012) from the Chief Executive Officer, Toronto Zoo (http://www.toronto.ca/legdocs/mmis/2012/cc/bgrd/backgroundfile-52362.pdf)

Zoo Due Diligence Report

http://www.toronto.ca/legdocs/mmis/2012/cc/bgrd/backgroundfile-52363.pdf

see attached letters/expert submissions

CEO’s recommendations

http://www.toronto.ca/legdocs/mmis/2012/cc/bgrd/backgroundfile-52360.pdf

So after the Dr. Cork report was submitted we analyzed it:

Here https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B5WlBT7uQTbwZGJiLUlseHRWTDA/edit

Here https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B5WlBT7uQTbwNGhRVlJZZUlBZTQ/edit?usp=sharing

And we found many discrepancies and errors. So we began contacting Dr. Cork for answers. She told us that she had signed a non-disclosure agreement with Zoocheck Canada, who commissioned the report and she directed all of our questions to Julie Woodyer of Zoocheck. Hmmm we thought. Zoocheck commissioned this report despite the fact they act as agents on behalf of PAWS and technically as lobbyists. How can council accept a report like this over the zoo staff? How can this not be considered by the City Manager and Integrity offices as a conflict of interest? PAWS gave Dr. Cork more access to the sanctuary and more access to medical reports than they did the zoo staff over the course of over an entire year under contractual agreements.

We continued to rattle University of Calgary, sending our emails not only to the

2013-02-03 20.13.08 Dean of the Vet school and Dr. Cork but also the president of the University and the VP of Research asking why we could not have a copy of the original report, before it was submitted to Zoocheck and Council. In one email Dr. Cork admitted that she did not write the discussion points or the executive summary (note it’s placement in the report). It was placed within the body of the report to appear as if it was written by Dr. Cork, there is no clarification in the report anywhere which refers to who authored the inserted pages.  But we needed an official statement.

Then we got this:

 https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B5WlBT7uQTbwYmUxTTEycHFyUjg/edit

The media did not seem to understand the value of this. They admit they did not write several pages of information in the report which makes it clear Zoocheck inserted that extra info. The report was doctored and then Councillor Berardinetti misrepresented it to council, the zoo and the people of this city as the entire work of the University of Calgary. As the report was used as completed due diligence it was technically used to apply for permits with Federal agencies on both sides of the border and that is a federal violation in Canada.

Still not official enough?

We did a FOIA request for correspondence between Zoo CEO John Tracogna and the Dean of the Vet School at Calgary (based on a tip from a Calgary contact). Calgary public records blew us off for months, delaying the request. The City of Toronto on the other hand did not. We got this, please note that the date of this email correspondence is one day before the December zoo board meeting and just a week after the November 27, 2012 council meeting to re-vote in favour of PAWS:

https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B5WlBT7uQTbwWE5jNHRWVGRJb0U/edit

https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B5WlBT7uQTbwU2JNOW1aVnJPNUU/edit

https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B5WlBT7uQTbwUzRQd0dfbUdfQkk/edit

This email and its contents were not shared at the December Zoo Board meeting or with councillors. The CEO just quietly kept it to himself. It clearly states the zoo could ask questions about the report. To date staff has been told to cease all contact or any pursuit of information as it pertains to PAWS and tuberculosis.

PRICE IS WRONG

Misrepresentation of Tuberculosis 

It is very clear that the Ontario Veterinary College and the Executive Director for Conservation Management of the Toronto have grounds to ask for a more impartial investigation of the state of TB in PAWS. We will be requesting the Ontario Veterinary College follow up on this.

The Dr. Cork report was commissioned by Zoocheck so the Toronto Zoo has grounds to believe that it is not impartial. Furthermore, was Dr. Cork compensated financially by Zoocheck in order to write the report? Yes she was. University of Calgary FOIA indicates this. There are also key pieces of missing information necessary from the Cork report for medical practitioners to make an assessment. Much of that missing information is available from the Toronto Zoo’s senior vet staff and their Due Diligence report however Dr. Cork never contacted them. Much of this information was provided to the Toronto Zoo CEO, he chose to keep it from official records at Zoo Board Meetings and council meetings.( We feel this is in contravention of his duties )

Therefore, on the grounds that the report provided by Dr. Cork may be “misleading” based on subsection 11 of your federal CITES law WAPPRIITA , we will ask for a proper assessment to be conducted by CANADIAN Federal authorities or more neutral parties,.

We have enough evidence to prove that the Dr. Cork report was misrepresented as completed due diligence to Toronto Council and to all government agencies involved both in the USA and Canada. We have the information which was not included in the Cork report, evidence that Dr. Cork relied solely on information provided to her by PAWS as well as a statement from the University of Calgary citing that is was commissioned and paid for by Zoocheck, that Zoocheck wrote multiple pages of the report without clarifying it was not Dr. Cork’s work.

Also evidenced is Zoocheck’s claim to Dr. Cork that the report was being commissioned on behalf of Toronto Council despite no official record existing of Toronto Council officially requesting the report from Cork or the University. Further we have evidence that City Councillors were given the opportunity to review the report days before the meeting when senior management and senior vet staff were only given approximately 45 minutes to review the detailed report prior to the November 27, 2012 City Council meeting. The Cork report was misrepresented paid advocacy used to bypass the Toronto Zoos zoological professional expertise and concerns about the bio-security at PAWS.

The Health of Animals Act in also means that no person should

conceal the existence of disease

(http://laws-lois.justice.gc.ca/eng/acts/H-3.3/page-3.html#docCont) there are instances where PAWS refused to comply with requests for more information or failure to allow the Toronto vets access to the quarantined barns as concealment of disease. We also have evidence of Councillors misleading the public in the media about tuberculosis at PAWS and going so far as to claim there was no TB at PAWS at a time when FOIA indicates there was. Councillor Berardinetti admits she knew about TB at PAWS on an episode of TVO’s The Agenda. We have multiple news articles where PAWS, Zoocheck, and City Councillors claim no TB or are misleading about TB at PAWS.

We also have hundreds of pages of FOIA documentation outlining tuberculosis issues at PAWS as early as 2010. These documents include correspondence with CDC, California State Health Officials, the USDA/APHIS and California Fish and Wildlife. Pretty powerful evidence that PAWS was fully aware prior to the Council vote in favour of PAWS in the Fall of 2011 of tuberculosis transmission on site as well as TB related elephant deaths and elephant to human transmission of TB on site.

TRANSPORT MATH

80 is MORE than 30!

80 > 30

80 is 50 more than 30!

If 30hrs on a truck is inhumane then 80hrs on truck is DEADLY

In this video clip City of Toronto Councillor and leader of the charge in favour of PAWS Michelle Berardinetti gives a heart felt plea to council to vote to not send the elephants to the National Elephant Center in Florida due to the 30 hour drive the elephants would face in transport  as opposed to a 5 hour flight to PAWS which they have been promising for almost two years. She promises that there are lots of planes! Yet barely two months later they have no air transport option and choose an 80+ road transport to PAWS.

I think it is clear council was voting to fly them to California! She begged and pleaded that the 30hr road trip to Florida was inhumane!

But an 80+hr drive to California is not?

Does the destination determine what distance

for transport is humane?

This is irrational ideology driven decision making

She is silent in the media where she once was prolific.  Zoocheck claims air transport was only because  Iringa, the oldest elephant had a foot which was not fully healed from a previous injury. But according to FOIA of email correspondence between Zoocheck and City Councillors it has only been barely healed since March of 2013. The zoo vet staff said no to road transport, the CEO and Zoo Board ignored their professional assessments and opposition once again in lieu of orders from Toronto City Council.

Since when does a politician know more about elephants

than zoological veterinarians?

Do we really believe that these vets invested in 10+ years of education and 30+ years of professional experience just to pander to

an accreditation organization?

That these vets are driven by greed to exploit animals?

Councillor Berardinetti has been virtually silent on this road transport since it was announced. All of council have remained silent. We imagine they all assume if anything happens to the elephants in transport they will all simply find a way to blame the zoo. We intend to post every single piece of truth we have to ensure that people know what really happened, at the very least to remind Councillors that 80 is more than 30. They chose ideology and egos over animal welfare, cost savings over the lives of these elephants. And now none of them have the courage or integrity to stand up and speak out or at least exercise some mathematical aptitude.

80 hours is more than 30 hours

4000km is more than 2000km

80 acres at PAWS is LESS than 225 acres at TNEC

Tuberculosis and the Inhumane Transfer of Toronto Zoo elephants to PAWS Sanctuary

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In May of 2011 the Toronto Zoo made the hard decision to phase out its elephant exhibit. With several elephant deaths and a lack of funds to upgrade the elephant’s facilities and outdoor habitat it was felt that relocation was the humane choice. Our group Zoos Matter supports this motion and relocation. Not once but twice in the last two years Toronto City Council has ignored professional zoological expertise and scientific fact in regards to the Toronto Zoo elephant transfer.  Both times dogma driven decisions were singularly based on animal rights propaganda, almost exclusively supplied to them by an anti zoo organization with little or no impartiality. The first time council voted to override the professionals at the Toronto Zoo it was Zoocheck Canada who provided them with all their arguments in favour of PAWS Sanctuary and all the opposition arguments against AZA facilities. Not one councillor sourced or vetted the information which was being provided to them including clarifying the limited use of elephant hooks at The National Elephant Centre which was the zoos choice for relocation. According to just one report written by Zoocheck, PAWS was the only facility in North America which satisfied all the criteria the Toronto Zoo board had laid out as a new home for the Toronto Zoo elephants. One year later, the second time council voted in favour of PAWS they ignored the due diligence of the Toronto Zoo professionals as well as all of the USDA and California State Health documents which proved the sanctuary had an outbreak of TB and was unable to contain it and had lied about it.

The zoo had 7 offers from various zoos across the North America. By September of 2011 the zoo was prepared to announce its choice, the yet to be built but now completed National Elephant Center in Fellesmere Florida. Disney’s Animal Kingdom was to send the first African family group to TNEC and had offered to integrate our girls into their herd for eventual relocation. That herd is now living at TNEC. Meanwhile the anti zoo organization Zoocheck Canada had been lobbying City Councillors to allow PAWS to be considered as a location choice. In the fall of 2011 City Councillor Michelle Berardinetti put forward a motion without notice at council claiming the elephants as City assets and put forward a vote to override ride the zoo’s professional authority and chose PAWS as the new home for our elephants. Their argument against TNEC was that the facility would use an elephant hook and that the zoo board had voted not to send our elephants to any facility which used this management tool. However TNEC will only use the elephant hook during calving and our elephants as protected contact managed would never see an elephant hook. This is a common form of animal rights propaganda and was used to influence councillors and the public against TNEC. The decision by council was made without any due diligence or site visits. No zoo staff were at the Council meeting. Zoocheck Canada wrote the motion which was carried at council verbatim.

Tuberculosis
Tuberculosis concerns have been the driving force behind opposition to this transfer. A citizen led organization based in Toronto called Zoos Matter accessed hundreds of pages of Freedom of Information documents from the USDA, California State Health and California Fish and Wildlife and the City of Toronto. The documents proved that there had been a tuberculosis outbreak at the PAWS sanctuary with on site transmission of the disease and that PAWS bio security protocols and diagnosis of the disease had failed. These concerns were shared by the senior veterinary staff of the Toronto Zoo. For months the coalition of Zoocheck, PAWS and several city councillors (two of which are zoo board members) made very public statements that there had never been a tuberculosis issue at the sanctuary. The FOIA evidence was contrary to those statements and evidenced that two elephants had died from tuberculosis, two more were infected, and one of those is now TB+ and converted in June of 2012 a year and a half after exposure. The zoo board had declared that no facility with past or present issues with tuberculosis would be considered nor would any facility located on the west coast where transportation would be logistically difficult to arrange and the long distance for travel inhumane and unhealthy for the elephants, two of which are considered by animal welfare standards as at the median age for developing health issues such as arthritis which could prove not just unhealthy but potentially deadly on such a transport, by air or by road.  Research and Freedom of information documents indicate that PAWS knew about the tuberculosis related deaths, on site transmission and their bio security failure as early as January 2011. Despite the overwhelming evidence supporting the disease concerns Toronto Council, continued to support PAWS as a new home for the elephants. Councillor Berardinetti admits she knew about TB at PAWS on an episode of the Agenda. This link is the live chat archives from that program, in it you will see Zoocheck’s Julie Woodyer making many false claims about tuberculosis at a time when FOIA had already proved there had been TB deaths at the sanctuary. Councillors claimed in the media there were no tuberculosis issues at PAWS.

Our research uncovered a great many concerns about PAWS bio security protocols. The sanctuary and its supporters claim that the African herd is safe and clear of TB. Our research indicates several factors which undermine their claims.

  • Calle and tuberculosis connections to the African herd at PAWS
  • PAWS lied about Sabu’s TB+ status at time of death in January 2012
  • PAWS had no idea Rebecca was TB+ until after she died in 2011, they wore no protective gear to prevent spread of disease
  • The African and Asian elephants shared one barn between 2004 and 2009
  • A deceased African elephant named Ruby who died just three months after Rebecca with no cause of death determined had no tissue cultures done
  • Ruby had a high risk history of exposure to TB at the LA Zoo. She lived with Asian elephant Gita who previously lived with two Asian elephants both of which died from tuberculosis
  • LA Zoo had a TB outbreak between 1997-2000 Ruby was treated as precautionary
  • Upon review of Ruby’s necropsy reports Toronto vets observed that Ruby had a bronchial mass on her lung which was never cultured for TB PAWS cited legal obligations to previous owners and the findings in the necropsies are never made public
  • Another African elephant 71 had no tissue cultures done
  • To date PAWS has still not provided these tissue culture reports, FOIA indicates the cultures were never done
  • Ruby’s quarantine was only ten days
  • Ruby can be connected to the two active cases of human TB in PAWS county (one case is at PAWS)
  • We have evidence that Rebecca and Annie were never quarantined
  • The outdoor habitats are a mere 36’-50’ apart, have adjoining water systems and a pathway for visitors viewing running up the middle
  • Both Rebecca and Sabu cultured for two strains of TB. They each carried their original strain diagnosed in 2001/2002 but also new strains. Rebecca’s new strain of TB is new to elephants and has no match in the CDC’s global databases
  • There has been at least one human case of TB and here with positive sero conversion at PAWS in the last 18 months, possibly a second
  • Calaveras County, the county which PAWS is located in has two known cases of human TB as of January 2012. The strains of this TB do not match any strain of TB known and documented at PAWS (we don’t know about Ruby or 71) However the strains do match to an elephant named Calle.  Calle has never lived at PAWS or Calaveras County. She did live with Asian elephants Gita and Annie at the LA Zoo. Both Annie and Calle died from TB and Gita went on to live with Ruby who went on to live with the Asians and Africans at PAWS in one barn for almost 2 years (2007-2009).  Calle also lived with another Asian elephant at the San Francisco Zoo, Tinkerbelle. Tinkerbelle was also sent to PAWS with serious foot infections instead of being humanely euthanized at the zoo. She lived for just four months, in the shared elephant barn with both species
  • All trunk washes for the Asian elephant herd were negative prior to the death of the source elephant in the outbreak Therefore with the 2-20 year incubation period of this disease, the unreliability of the trunk wash as a diagnostic, the missing tissue cultures for the high risk Ruby and proven co-habitation of both species in one barn for many years there is no way to determine if the African herd at PAWS is safe and clear of tuberculosis.
  • All diagnostics (STATPAK and Trunk washes) failed to detect active TB in the Asian herd, claims
  • That the African herd has no TB based on those same diagnostics cannot be considered
  • Without Ruby’s tissue cultures PAWS cannot prove the African herd was not exposed to tuberculosis
  •  Active Environments was hired by PAWS to execute this move they have grossly exaggerated their transport experience and abilities. Active Environments owns marine park facilities in the Philippines which gets dolphins and whales from the slaughters in Taiji, Japan (The Cove) we have a research paper which proves this
  • One of the Detroit Zoo elephants collapsed several times during transport to PAWs, it took over two days for the elephant to recover and she died just 2.5 years later, the other was exposed to tuberculosis at PAWS
  • Bob Barker made a sizable donation to the Aspen Valley Wildlife Centre in Muskoka at the same time Zoocheck’s Julie Woodyer was made the new board of directors (she is the only one) Aspen Valleys Howard Smith has been on site at the zoo and is now involved in this transport
  • PAWS and Bob Barkers own legislation before congress denounces transport conditions for animals similar to Toronto zoo elephant transport plan they themselves have proposed
  • http://www.federalcircusbill.org/briefings/SCS_US_rep_FINAL_Jun%2015%2008_LOW%20RES.pdf  please note the section on animal welfare issues even for short journeys
  • capture myopathy is what vets think killed the three seals which died in transport last year from Ontario to St Louis, Zoocheck was the catalyst for that move also
  • media was sent every single FOIA document

Professor Ian Duncan, a Phd in Animal Welfare who heads up the zoo’s Animal care Committee says: “Tuberculosis reduces welfare.” A pioneer in animal welfare issues in Canada he is staunchly opposed to the transfer and transport plans. He also head up the zoo’s Animal Care Committee.

The evidence which supports a tuberculosis risk at PAWs is overwhelming and conclusive.

Size Matters

The plan to transport the elephants by air had been lobbied to the public and hailed as a great act of generosity and animal welfare by Zoocheck and PAWS and Councillors heavily in the media. This $880,000.00 “gift” from former game show host and animal rights activist Bob Barker had a strong influence on Council votes and public opinion. Barker would pay the costs to transport the elephants by plane as both the zoo board and Toronto City council claimed this was the only method of transport they would accept if the aging elephants had to travel such a long distance. After failed attempts to have the American Air Force fly the elephants they next lobbied Royal Canadian Air force. Almost two years after the initial vote at council and the promises of air transport the zoo’s CEO John Tracogna and the zoo board had quietly given Zoocheck, PAWS and their hired animal management company Active Environments full decision making power over mode of transport; they are now planning to drive the elephants the 4200km distance to PAWS, a trip that could take up to 5 days. It has been reiterated again and again by the board and council that air transport was the preferred humane option.

The Toronto Zoo elephants are protected contact managed, once they enter their crates they can only be offloaded at a suitable zoological facility. In case of an emergency, which is highly likely considering their age there are few zoological options on the proposed transport route. The Senior zoo staff are opposed to this transport plan but to accommodate the order of City Council the zoo’s CEO has signed off on the initial road transport plan and it is likely they will bring in outside vets to sign health certificates for transport to override the zoo’s own vets. All staff are under strict gag orders from City Council with threats of job loss, even volunteers have been threatened if they speak to the media or post on social media any opposition to council’s decisions. Recent FOIA from the City of Toronto accessed by Zoos Matters indicates that Mr. Barker is concerned about his money and will not pay transport costs up front; he wishes to be reimbursed by the city afterwards to “protect” his investment. Zoocheck’s Julie Woodyer and her affiliates on Toronto Council, Councillors Michelle Berardinetti and Glenn DeBaeremaeker have publicly maligned and disparaged the zoo and its staff so much in the media that Mr. Barker now fears zoo staff will not cooperate on transport day and he will lose his money. FOIA evidence shows these councillors colluded with Zoocheck and were being spoon fed disparaging quotes about the zoo and staff by Woodyer. When the zoo lost its AZA accreditation over governance issues the same media strategy was supplied to councillors again to dismiss the AZA’s standards as less than the standards outlined by PAWS accrediting body the Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries.  An organization which was partially created by PAWS own founder Pat Derby after her first accrediting body TAOS failed and which under a Grandfather clause PAWS does not have to adhere to its own accrediting standards required for other sanctuary members.  Ms Woodyer’s orders and commands were so prevalent in the FOIA that Zoos Matter members started referring to her as Councillor Woodyer.

The zoo staff were required to train the elephants to enter their crates, that was their assigned job and they fulfilled their responsibilities. Active Environments was hired to manage this transport and claim on their resume to have moved 14 elephants despite there being no evidence of these moves. Additionally upon orders once again from Woodyer the zoos report on AE was assigned to a zoo staffer who is friends with Margaret Whittaker of Active Environments. It is unclear why Mr. Barker, Zoocheck and PAWS have concerns about loading the elephants, if AE are the experienced management transport company they claim to be they should be able to get the elephants loaded for their road trip with or without zoo staff. But the truth is no one, including AE has ever moved three protected contact elephants this distance by road before – no one.

It appears as if road transport was always their number one plan not air ( don’t forget their previous attempt to fly the elephants in a Russian cargo plane which was proven to in fact be in contravention of International Aviation Laws for the transport of live mammals) . By January of 2013 they still did not have any viable air transport plans which they had been promising the public for 18 months. Email correspondence between the commercial transport provider and Zoocheck’s Julie Woodyer state that the transport crates the elephants had been training in for over a year had been for road transport only – the crates were NEVER built for air transport. When Zoocheck lobbied the Department of Defence, the zoo and city were required to answer an 8 question due diligence. In the official City of Toronto response which was again accessed through FOIA  Zoocheck and the City of Toronto state that they have exhausted all commercial options for air transport and that the crate for youngest and biggest elephant, Thika was too large to fit through any cargo hold doors. This was also claimed again in a legal letter sent by PAWS lawyers in Toronto to the DND. That same letter also indicates that Zoocheck and PAWS were concerned for the elephant’s health and the 4-5 day road trip. Furthermore Council and the zoo board reiterated again and again AIR TRANSPORT was the preferred option. Here in a clip  (at 1:20) from the November 27 Council meeting Councillor Berardinetti says there are many planes available yet barely two months later there are apparently NONE? Further investigation concluded that Zoocheck had been offered a viable transport plan using a Boeing 747 plane with engineered modifications to the crate so it could be loaded. The difference between an inhumane 5 day road transport and air transport is just 5 inches but is it really about money? Zoocheck rejected this plan but did not clarify any of this to the Department of Defence. The DND only found out when the commercial transporter in question sent his quote to the DND which cannot compete with a commercial vendor.  The PAWS coalition decided in the early spring of 2013 that the DND offer would be too late and chose road transport instead. Zoocheck’s Julie Woodyer once again claimed that the elephants might not survive another winter in Toronto, a statement she has now made two years in a row. Odd that Zoocheck claimed for so long that the elephants cannot survive another winter and are not healthy but then they claim they are healthy enough to survive a 4200km road trip? Ironically PAWS, Bob Barker and several of their animal rights affiliates in the United States have a bill before congress, the Travelling Animal Protection Act. In it they outline the serious affects even short transportation has on animals, from ones being transported for the food industry to circus animals. You would think that after the death of 3 seals last summer during the Zoocheck initiated transport from an Ontario Zoo to a zoo in Missouri that someone, anyone on council would have concerns for the lives of these elephants. Many animal rights and welfare groups lobby against this kind of inhumane road transport yet they are silent on this issue.

To date this bungled effort has cost the City over 1 million dollars, because if the zoo had been allowed to do their jobs in the first place the elephants would have been in Florida for a year already.

According to the Animal Welfare laws in Ontario and the Animal Welfare Act the road transport plan is inhumane. According to what WSPA Canada lobbies for on behalf of livestock in transport to slaughter it is inhumane. According to the 28Hr law in the United States it is inhumane and according to PETA if a circus transfers an animal for this length or time, chained and immobile it is inhumane, in fact according to many animal welfare activists it is INHUMANE. Additionally the Federation of Canadian Humane Societies states; exceeding the duration of recommended transport times by the Canadian Federation of Humane Societies qualifies as putting an animal in “distress” (here pg.13 subsection 64) and (here).   The Canadian Federation of Humane Societies does not recommend transportation longer than 52 hours for farm animals; so the land transport plan of 50+ hours suggested by Zoocheck is a number strategically chosen to avoid direct contravention of what is cited in the Federal Health of Animals Act. It is inhumane to transfer three disease-free animals (two ageing) 4200km cross country chained in a crate on a truck for 4.5 days (or 65+hrs) to a facility with a known tuberculosis outbreak and proven risks within the herd they will be integrated into. It is inhumane because there is a closer, disease-free facility willing to take these elephants. For $250k in transport cost savings to Florida the City of Toronto will risk the lives of the Toronto Zoo elephants.

At the November 27th, 2012 Council meeting Councillor Raymond Cho, a zoo board member and supporter of PAWS said,

“Our elephants are so old anyway what difference does it make if they die from tuberculosis?”

Councillor Josh Matlow chimed in with more words of political wisdom with this,

“If the elephants could choose for themselves don’t you think they would choose to take this risk?”

It is ironic that these elephants are being exploited by animal rights groups to gain a victory and momentum for the anti captivity movement. We feel it is unethical to send three healthy disease free animals into a facility with clear cut disease prevention protocol failures and little transparency. The trip to Florida is considerably less in distance for transport, the climate is warmer year round, TNEC provides more space to roam (225 acres vs 80 acres) and living in multi generational family groups is the key to happy elephants in captivity, not space but family. It is the number one factor which is attributed to healthy elephant sociology in the wild.

Links – this represents about ¼ of our research and information

Full outline with all supporting evidence (the LONG version)

https://zoosmatter.wordpress.com/2013/08/30/68/

This link contains most of our research but not all

https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B5WlBT7uQTbwcVhGUlZST2oyX0k/edit

The Significance of Dr. Cork Report

We have enough evidence to prove that the Dr. Cork report was misrepresented to Toronto Council and to all government agencies involved both in the USA and Canada as an impartial independent report to complete the due diligence. The zoo’s due diligence was incomplete due to the lack of crucial evidence; the tissue cultures for two deceased African elephants. We have the information which was not included in the Cork report, evidence that Dr. Cork relied solely on information provided to her by PAWS as well as a statement from the University of Calgary citing that the report was commissioned by Zoocheck; that Zoocheck wrote multiple pages of the report without clarifying it was not Dr. Cork’s work and it was submitted to Council as such. Zoocheck claimed in an email to Dr. Cork that the report was on behalf of the City of Toronto however FOIA indicates that no official record exists of Toronto Council or staff officially requesting the report from Cork or the University. Toronto Council adopted The Dr. Cork report claiming it was an independent report stating PAWS bio security was in good stead. We have evidence that this report was commissioned by and paid for by Zoocheck Canada (here and here and here pg.7) and that Dr. Cork based her report entirely on information supplied to her by PAWS. Council chose this report over the Toronto Zoo staff’s due diligence report (supporting DD documents here) so that they could move forward with the move to PAWS despite the overwhelming evidence of tuberculosis risks. By doing so Council could claim the due diligence was complete and then Zoocheck could lobby the Royal Canadian Air force for a plane and at the same time apply for road transport permits in case RCAF refused. The Cork report was misrepresented paid advocacy purchased by PAWS agents in Canada, Zoocheck who have also lobbied this issue since 2011. It was used to bypass the Toronto Zoos zoological professional expertise and we can prove this. We can also prove that there is a high risk for tuberculosis in the African herd at PAWS and we have every intention of continuing our campaign to share this with the people of this city, the media and through complaints with provincial and federal officials as well as with the USDA.

The significance of the Dr. Cork Report.

California Public Health FOIA

https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B5WlBT7uQTbwck9zc2NpQUt1Qm8/edit?usp=drive_web

Toronto Zoo Vet PAWS site visit report (never released to the public accessed via Freedom of Information)

https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B5WlBT7uQTbwdVpmM25rUkk4TVk/edit?usp=drive_web

Toronto Zoo Memo Status Update September 25, 2012 (after this press conference PAWS made legal threats against the zoo)

https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B5WlBT7uQTbwczM3Uy1lZGQtVXM/edit

Evidence of elephants sharing one barn

https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B5WlBT7uQTbwcWNmTGY4TDQ5djA/edit

https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B5WlBT7uQTbweTFuTTUtMk9ETWc/edit

Some Presentations to Council

https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B5WlBT7uQTbwZk1qM2dQU1Z0b1k/edit

https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B5WlBT7uQTbwRWZfYkQ5LUhZNFU/edit

https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B5WlBT7uQTbwQk5selc1T3dkVzQ/edit

https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B5WlBT7uQTbwVU5ldW85MkZ0cGc/edit

https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B5WlBT7uQTbwbUhnYV9ZdDJlLUk/edit

https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B5WlBT7uQTbwVUtIV3JkRXhYQ2s/edit

https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B5WlBT7uQTbwZ2NFZXVyZG1iTlU/edit

Evidence of lack of transparency regarding tuberculosis on site and that staff wore no protective gear

https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B5WlBT7uQTbwbnNiSTRhY0FYTWc/edit

Ruby

https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B5WlBT7uQTbwX211ZG44TVV6MUk/edit?usp=drive_web

Calle

https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B5WlBT7uQTbwNjJaYnV1VHNQUTA/edit?usp=drive_web

TB connections to African Herd

https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B5WlBT7uQTbwcmZqNW9qS3BMSzg/edit

https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B5WlBT7uQTbwQ1k3LVo2TFdEQkU/edit?usp=drive_web

Transport Correspondence Accessed via FOIA from City of Toronto

https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B5WlBT7uQTbwU1dhcW02a3NFYjg/edit?usp=drive_web

https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B5WlBT7uQTbwMzM0NkQ5M3FoODg/edit?usp=drive_web

Email exchange between commercial transporter and Zoochecks Julie Wodyer

The quote he submitted to Zoocheck and the DND

https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B5WlBT7uQTbwZklRQmR6aFNoLVE/edit

Letter of opposition from Dr. Theodore Friend

https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B5WlBT7uQTbwQkdZcEg2M1NLNWM/edit

Photos of Councillors taking notes from Zoocheck Canada’s Julie Woodyer at November 27 Council meeting

DeBaeremaker https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B5WlBT7uQTbwZm43V3ZBZjFzc0U/edit?usp=drive_web

Beardinetti https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B5WlBT7uQTbwSkpJRXJSRDNWVnc/edit?usp=drive_web

Cho https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B5WlBT7uQTbwS2ZNVzdRSzhuZHM/edit?usp=drive_web

Pat Derby Unprotected Contact

https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B5WlBT7uQTbwYVc2Ym5kRzVGb2c/edit?usp=drive_web

No bio security protocols while handling Tinkerbelle (her herdmate had just died from tuberculosis)

Video

The Toronto Zoo Elephant Saga – The Whole Truth and Nothing but the Truth

 

 letterhead copy

Truth For Toronto Zoo Elephants – What you won’t read in mainstream media

The group Zoos Matter has fought tirelessly to stop the proposed transfer of the Toronto Zoo elephants to the PAWS sanctuary. If you do not know of the story please sit back and prepare yourself because the truth about the Toronto Zoo elephants is the most despicable act of animal exploitation at the expense of true animal welfare.

Upon arrival to his new job as CEO of the zoo John Tracogna’s first act was to phase out our African elephant exhibit. The issue cited was money, not enough to do the necessary upgrades.

Toronto had several elephant deaths prior to this decision and by May of 2011 and facilities upgrades were badly needed. Further the AZA had laid out new guidelines for its accredited facilities on the keeping of elephants. All of this meant more money. In 2009 it appeared as if the zoo board was prepared to make these changes but by 2010 and John Tracogna’s arrival this plan had changed. What remained of the zoo’s herd were three healthy and spectacular female African elephants, Iringa (44) and Toka (43) who have lived at our zoo since they were young calves and Thika (32) who was born here.

2013-01-07 07.59.02

After the decision in 2011 to phase out the exhibit the zoo undertook a due diligence process to review 7 AZA facilities which had offered to re-home our elephants. By the fall of 2011 they had completed their review and had chosen a plan and a home. The girls were to be relocated to Disney’s Animal Kingdom in Florida and integrated into a multi generational family herd. This herd would be the first herd eventually relocated to the now newly completed National Elephant Centre in Fellesmere, Florida. At the time of the decision TNEC had not even broken ground. The zoo board had ruled out one sanctuary located in Tennessee due to a tuberculosis outbreak which had occurred in 2009. They had also ruled out west coast facilities due to the long transport distances and the logistics involved, not the least of which was that moving three elephants not accustomed to transport period let alone a 4.5 day road trip was inhumane and unnecessary considering there are other excellent viable facilities much closer.

 It is not surprising that the pending announcement was somehow leaked to Zoocheck Canada and City Councillor Michelle Berardinetti. A City Councillor named Glenn DeBaeremaeker is also a zoo board member who has worked closely with Zoocheck and their affiliates for years. Councillor Berardinetti, a self proclaimed animal rights activist worked with Councillor DeBaeremaeker, Councillor/zoo board member Raymond Cho and Zoocheck’s Julie Woodyer to write a motion for council demanding the city send our elephants to PAWS. In fact Julie Woodyer wrote the motion verbatim which was carried in favour of PAWS.   The Toronto Zoo is owned by the City of Toronto. Several councillors and some of whom are zoo board members had been colluding with PAWS sanctuary (possibly since 2009) and just prior to the zoo’s announcement they seized control of the elephants with Zoocheck’s motion claiming the elephants as city assets. In a motion without notice (the motion written by Zoocheck) on October 24, 2011 without any site visit or due diligence they overrode the zoo’s professional expertise and authority and chose PAWS as the new home for our elephants. Other than the CEO no zoo vets or senior zoo staff members were at the meeting. Although this is in contravention of Ontario Animal Welfare Laws and regulations to make that decision without a site visit or completed due diligence, the zoo is registered as a research facility in Ontario and exempt from the laws guiding the PAW (Provincial Animal Welfare laws).

This is the Toronto Zoo’s due diligence report and background information:

https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B5WlBT7uQTbwenBZaWozS01nZHM/edit

http://app.toronto.ca/tmmis/viewAgendaItemHistory.do?item=2012.EX24.30

Background Information (Committee)

(October 18, 2012) Report from the Chief Executive Officer, Toronto Zoo on Elephant Transfer Status Update (here)

(September 25, 2012) Memo with Attachments, from the Toronto Zoo on Elephant Transfer Status (here)

Background Information (City Council)

(November 20, 2012) Supplementary report from the Chief Executive Officer, Toronto Zoo on the Elephant Transfer Due Diligence Review (EX24.30a)

Attachment 1 to the report (November 20, 2012) from the Chief Executive Officer

Toronto Zoo – Due Diligence

Review 

Attachment 1 to the Due Diligence

Attachment 2 to the Due Diligence

Attachment 3 to the Due Diligence

Attachment 4 to the Due Diligence

Attachment 5 to the Due Diligence

Attachment 6 to the Due Diligence

Attachment 2 to the report (November 20, 2012) from the Chief Executive Officer, Toronto Zoo

Attachment 3 to the report (November 20, 2012) from the Chief Executive Officer, Toronto Zoo

CEO’s recommendations

Councillor Berardinetti and Councillor Raymond Cho did a personal site visit on November 8-10, 2011, the zoo staff went December, 2011. Councillor Berardinetti claimed her trip was a family trip not an official site visit (she has no academic or professional authority to assess PAWS’ viability as a potential home) despite evidence in FOIA indicating that her trip was possibly funded by Zoocheck and PAWS (see here). We are to assume I guess that Councillor Berardinetti often takes family trips with Councillor Cho.

The zoo’s site visit report which was not entirely favourable was never brought to the board or council or made public BUT you can review it here accessed via FOIA. Zoocheck kept pounding home in the media that the zoo was just doing the AZA’s bidding and not concerned with the actual welfare of the animals in question.

 The decision by council was challenged immediately by zoo staff, citizens and experts from around the globe on the grounds of bio security issues and tuberculosis as well as the long distance for transport. It was outlined in this blog post from the most comprehensive captive elephant database on the internet. It was discussed at Zoo News Digest. This blog site posted the first USDA documents back in April of 2012 which finally proved there had been a tuberculosis crisis at PAWS.

HANDBOOKMeanwhile Zoocheck and Councillors consistently and adamantly refuted any claims of Tuberculosis on site, claiming PAWS had never had a disease issue, that PAWS did not have TB, (news articles). They made this claim again and again in the media while attacking the zoo and its staff accusing them of pushing a “red herring” despite expert testimony to the contrary from Dr. Dale Smith, a zoological disease specialist and pathologist from the University of Guelph’s Ontario Veterinary College.  Councillors and Zoocheck continued to accuse zoo staff of caring only for their jobs and not for the welfare of the elephants. Meanwhile PAWS, Zoocheck and Zoocheck’s USA counterpart Born Free USA gathered their petition signing troops; the thousands of zealots who will sign anything their spiritual leaders tell them to without question. The media gave Zoocheck and these Councillors’ endless opportunities to spew their ideology and lies in the press while zoo staff was heavily censored by council with new social media policies and threats of job loss. This is still the current the strategy to keep the truth at bay with CEO John Tracogna doing Councillors bidding without question and without any support for the zoo and its staff.

City of Toronto Councillor Correspondence with Zoocheck Canada accessed via Freedom of information

FOIA 1

FOIA 2

FOIA 3

FOIA 4

FOIA 5

FOIA 6

FOIA 7

FOIA 8

FOIA 9

Council’s reasoning against TNEC (supplied to them by Zoocheck in fine print here ) is that they would use elephant hooks despite the use of this tool being limited to calving/birthing and that our elephants are protected contact and would never see an elephant hook. Councillor DeBaeremaeker brought in an Asian styled ankus not an elephant hook as is used in North American elephant management as an example and waved it around council to push the point home comparing it to a crowbar. It was pure ideology driven decision making, propaganda and nothing more. Not only did the zoo claim they would choose no facility which used elephant hooks but they also claimed that they would not choose any facility on the west coast due to the logistics for transport nor would they choose any facility with past or current issues with tuberculosis. City politicians have been willing to bypass the TB and transport issues to cater to their will and anti-zoo beliefs but they will not budge on the limited use of the elephant hook at TNEC. This is because in the end their aversion to TNEC is not because of an elephant hook it is simply because it will breed elephants for the AZA and our council is against either zoos or at least elephants in zoos, they have bought into animal rights propaganda without doing any actual research of their own. They have relied solely on the information which was being provided to them by anti zoo organization Zoocheck Canada, none of them ever contacted TNEC or the AZA for clarification. The AZA has claimed that they will be phasing out the use of an elephant hook by 2014. Zoocheck knew they could play on the heartstrings of the unsuspecting uninformed public with elephant hook propaganda.

If you know anything about politics in the city of Toronto you will know that our current municipal “leaders” are self proclaimed legislators of the future, and they legislate according to a future where they think higher intellect will see zoos as archaic, unnecessary prisons with little or no value to the education or conservation of species and their wild habitats. From my personal experience I have never considered the extremist anti zoo movement to be of a higher intellect.

Our Zoo board chair Joe Torzsok, our CEO John Tracogna and city councillor/zoo board members have done everything in their power to cripple our zoo and its efforts to share with the public their concerns about TB at PAWS. Oppressive social media polices were put in place, gag orders placed on senior vets and staff. Shut up or lose your job sums it up nicely. The AZA pulled the Toronto Zoo’s accreditation citing issues with our governance. The AZA came to the zoo board meeting, on USA Thanksgiving in 2011, and was received poorly.  EMA and CAZA came as well, they received the same reception. Zoocheck kindly offered to spoonfeed City Councillors with statements for the media denouncing AZA accreditation as less than the standard of PAWS and that the loss of our accreditation was a bullying tactic by the AZA (pg3) to force a re-decision on PAWS as a home for the girls. You see because of  Zoocheck’s media maipulation this was now about zoos vs sanctuaries and the zoo and its supporters were driving this battle in the name of the AZA and not because we were and still are concerned about tuberculosis at PAWS. The pro-PAWS coalition did everything they could to deflect from the seriousness of TB on site. Here in PAWS own newsletters from 2012 you can read where they disparage the Toronto Zoo and the AZA (in breach of contractual agreements). Of course these are the same people, Zoocheck and Councillors, who misled the media accusing zoo staff of being motivated by fear of job loss, see here and here – knowing full well that no staff would be losing their jobs. council puppet no text

In January of 2012 a bull elephant named Sabu died at PAWS. As a result of Sabu’s death a citizen led group called Zoos Matter began what has become an almost 2 year battle. He had only been there for 18 months and he was just 29 years old. Sabu was one of two elephants and $270,000.00 which PAWS agreed to take as a result of a legal settlement with Ringling Brothers/Feld Entertainment.  Red flags were raised. It took less than a week to hunt down supporting evidence that Sabu likely died from TB. His previous caregivers stated publicly that Sabu showed no signs of lameness or illness when he left their facility to travel to PAWS.

In an email between Zoocheck’s Julie Woodyer and Councillor DeBaeremaeker Zoocheck claims PAWS had no idea Sabu had TB, and that his previous caregivers, Two Tails Ranch had not told them. Of course anyone who has researched this would know full well that Sabu’s previous positive diagnosis for TB 10 years earlier is widely available on the internet from USDA documents posted by PETA in their media file series on circuses. By April of 2012 FOIA indicated that in fact Sabu did die TB+, but prior to that in February Zoos Matter was able to provide enough evidence so that the Zoo Board and CEO at the very least were required to allow the zoo vets to investigate this death and other possible TB deaths at PAWS. Despite these concerns in February of 2012 the zoo and the zoo board went ahead and signed a legal agreement with PAWS. PAWS claimed that Sabu died of severe genetic arthritis and the tissue cultures would take up to 8 weeks. They never willingly shared the tissue culture results; these were accessed via Freedom of Information. Even after the FOIA evidence which surfaced in April of 2012 indicated he died TB+ and with not one but two strains of TB they still claim he died “from euthanasia due to degenerative bone disease”. Evidence indicates that PAWS knew for some time that Sabu was actively infected again. In a blog post dated July 13, 2011 by a visiting sanctuary owner Karl Cullen he discusses how Sabu was under full quarantine and that he and staff had to wear protective masks and gloves. They knew full well Sabu was TB+ was early as the summer of 2011. This was months before council seized control of the Toronto Zoo elephants and made the decision to send them to PAWS promising that THERE WAS NO TUBERCULOSIS AT PAWS.

PAWS claim that Sabu had died from severe arthritis was basically a lie or at the very least not the whole truth. Advanced severe arthritis was obviously a symptom aggravated by his positive tuberculosis infection. When the FOIA was finally accessed in April of 2012 it was proven conclusively that Sabu died TB+.  No media outlet called Zoocheck or the Councillors or PAWS out on why they had publicly maintained for so long there had been no TB at PAWS when it was clear and evident they had known for months that he was ill with the disease. That same FOIA indicated that another Asian elephant named Rebecca had died in January of 2011 TB+, again with not one but 2 strains of TB. Her second strain of TB was new to elephants and had no match in the global tuberculosis databases as per a search done by the CDC. By their own admission in the graphs included with the Dr. Cork report and in FOIA PAWS and their Vet Dr. Gai admit Rebecca’s treatments were ceased three years prior to her death (here pg. Pg.25/pg.2 of necropsy report) To date no investigations have determined where this second strain of tuberculosis came from.

Further FOIA indicates that prior to her death and the positive STATPAK reactions of the two herd mates exposed (Annie and Wanda) all trunk prior trunk washes and STATPAKs had been negative (here pg. 26-27). Dr. Gai admits that they had no idea Rebecca was TB+ until AFTER she died and that no staff wore any protective gear. The zoos own site visit report indicated this as they were not allowed to inspect 3 out of the 5 barns on site at PAWS. It was clear and evident that the disease prevention protocols at PAWS were in serious trouble and that our allegations and the concerns of senior zoo staff and vets were not unfounded. We were able to determine with common sense, research and then FOIA evidence that two elephants, Annie and Wanda had been exposed to Rebecca’s TB, Rebecca had not been in quarantine, again evidenced in FOIA from California State Health because PAWS had no clue she was Tuberculosis +. As a result of exposure eventually Annie converted to active TB in June 2012. How is this NOT a tuberculosis outbreak? And how is this World Class Bio Security Protocols? According to Pat Derby’s own accrediting body GFAS they are world class,

Yes, they accredit themselves. Elephant-Gas-Mask--37456

Through freedom of information requests and research we were able to prove that PAWS actually had a tuberculosis outbreak with TB transmission on site which included 3 elephants (3 that have been documented), the transmission was entirely their fault due to bio security protocol failure as they had no idea the source elephant was TB+ until after her death. They and their affiliates on council along with Zoocheck Canada who acts as PAWS agents here in Toronto lied outright to the media. Zoos Matter did the job City Council failed to do. This pro-PAWS coalition also engaged in a media campaign to disparage and malign the zoo and its staff to undermine staff motives for opposition, basically to turn people against the zoo and deflect the media from the real issue at hand, tuberculosis. The media willingly complied. Staff have been harassed and stalked on social media by activists who file complaints to the city and CEO if any staff say anything about this transfer publicly. Senior vet staff have also been threatened with job loss if they continue to fight, research or refuse to sign off on anything PAWS related. City Councillor Glen DeBaeremaeker even went so far as to encourage the senior vet staff at the zoo to resign if they felt they were being forced to engage in unethical activities. He said he would resign if it were him, we wonder why he has yet to resign considering the lack of ethics of forcing three healthy animals to a facility with a known disease outbreak simply to satisfy personal extremist dogma. Meanwhile while Zoocheck and Councillors had the media focusing on staff issues they were misleading everyone about tuberculosis at the sanctuary, sort of like how a magician says look closely at this hand while I trick you with the other hand.

Now that tuberculosis had been proven on site Zoocheck, PAWS and Councillors began claiming that the African herd was safe from TB, that the STATPAK tests and trunk washes for the LIVING elephants were clear.  They were very careful to use the word “living”. Councillors, Zoocheck and PAWS were quick to state that although they previously hailed the STATPAK test as the gold standard in diagnoses of TB and that they were leaders amongst facilities with elephants using that diagnostic they quickly changed their tune when FOIA indicated positive Statpak reactions in Rebecca’s herd mates, they flip flopped and stated trunk washes were gold standard. Trunk wash is of course an unreliable test and this can be evidenced here and here (elephantcare.org), citing a case in Sweden and  a TB outbreak where five elephants were affected. Of 189 trunk wash samples collected, only 7 were positive from the 5 elephants that were confirmed (on post mortem) to be infected with TB (Moller 2005, Moller 2006, Lewerin 2005). What is Gold Standard is a tissue culture, as we know trunk wash is only good if a) the sample is not contaminated with foreign substances and b) the animal in question is actually shedding the organism when the trunk wash is conducted (elephants shed the TB bacilli intermittently so it is hit and miss with more miss than hit). Furthermore it had been evidenced in the TB case of Rebecca that an infected animal can show a negative STATPAK result or the results can be misinterpreted for animals previously infected or treated and that trunk wash tests failed to diagnose TB at PAWS, claiming the African herd is clean means nothing based on the failed diagnostic history of their Asian herd. On an airing of the television program The Agenda Councillor Berardinetti admits she knew about the tuberculosis. Here is a link from the Live Chat file from TVO’s The Agenda with arguments and commentary by Zoocheck Canada’s Julie Woodyer, PAWS supporters vs Toronto Zoo supporters, well worth the read. I can tell you that commentators on behalf of the zoo were Zoos Matter team members and not zoo staff as Ms. Woodyer would have everyone believe.

Quarantine Issues

When FOIA documents finally evidenced that in fact there was tuberculosis on site and that there had been on-site transmission PAWS, Zoocheck and Councillors began their media campaign claiming that the elephants in question had been in quarantine and that all proper procedures had been followed. In a presentation to the Toronto Executive Committee Meeting in November, 2012 Annie’s likely positive TB status and quarantine issues were brought forward by a deputant as well as evidence of the Africans and Asians sharing one barn and how it was logistically impossible to quarantine any of the elephants based on the availability of barn space. We had reviewed multiple videos, photographs, blogs and news stories, scoured our FOIA- we left no stone unturned. They claimed the two affected Asians were in quarantine at a time when Sabu was still alive, we asked the question where? There was no available barn until Sabu’s death in January of 2013. With one barn for the Africans females, one for the Asians and the three bull barns all occupied until Sabu’s death they were simply out of barns. According to the Zoos Site Visit report there is no quarantine barn at Ark2000. According to that same report the zoo vets and staff were only allowed to inspect two out of the five barns on site.

 Now that Annie is TB+ we imagine she is living alone, likely in one of the bull barns. You know, alone, a lone elephant like the kind of elephant Zoocheck promotes is being treated inhumanely in zoos because they are sad and isolated. In fact according to The Dr. Cork report despite be diagnosed as TB+ in June of 2012 Annie had still not been begun treatments by November 27, 2012, six months after her positive diagnosis. So not only was she living alone but potentially dying from tuberculosis as well. We made this public and not one activist organization had any problem with it. I imagine if a zoo did not treat an animal for 6 months? Zoocheck would be outraged. People were certainly outraged when this recently happened in France. This news article mentions the one barn and quarantine of Tinkerbelle. Ruby did not have a proper quarantine, just 10 days after her arrival she was introduced to the African herd, she was able to touch the other Africans in the barn as soon as she arrived at Ark2000. Evidence of the shared barn can be found here and here.

Eventually zoo staff were denied second site visit by Pat Derby.

Considering they had no idea Rebecca was TB+ when she died and wore no protective gear and that Rebecca infected 2 other elephants (one of which is now TB+) and they had no physical means to quarantine while Sabu was still alive (all 5 barns were being used) our concerns over bio security at PAWS grew with every passing day. It was in fact much more serious than we had possibly       imagined. An extensive research project was underway to investigate the detailed histories of each elephant at PAWS. We focused on a particular African elephant named Ruby who had died three months after Rebecca with no cause of death determined and who had a high risk history of TB exposure. At the same time the zoo vet staff were demanding medical histories on the Africans and PAWS was not cooperating with these requests as evidenced in the Zoos Transfer status update on September 25, 2012. It was at this time PAWS and Zoocheck made some very public media statements accusing the zoo staff of undertaking unnecessary delays – unnecessary delays?

Asking for tissue cultures from a deceased African elephant to determine its disease status at time of death is not unnecessary it is what any zoological professional should expect and demand. Not having tissue cultures done for Ruby was the epitome of unprofessional and there is no reasonable explanation as to why the cultures were not done. To date there has been no mention in the media about the missing cultures which are crucial to determine the disease status of the African herd at PAWS. Councillors made numerous claims that our zoo was motivated by pressure from the AZA not animal welfare, remember the zoo lost its accreditation due to governance issues. Basically the AZA felt our zoo had no control over the future and welfare of its animals and the AZA was correct. Under the guidance of CEO John Tracogna and Zoo Board Chair Joe Torzsok, pressured by City Council/Councillors/Zoo Board members we had now lost our AZA accreditation with the potential loss of CAZA and our government research facility accreditation looming. Councillors continued to make many claims in the media disparaging our zoo and its staff. Evidence via FOIA indicated these councillors again were being spoon fed statements by Zoochecks Julie Woodyer.

The zoo was finally granted access to the medical documents under strict guidelines outlined by Zoocheck, only the CEO could review them he could not take notes or make copies and Zoocheck’s Julie Woodyer had to be present, Woodyer even requested the meeting be videotaped. Again citing legal obligations to previous owners they did not want the information made public. We could not understand what previous owners of the African elephants were so concerned about. The LA Zoo’s TB outbreak was widely publicized, San Francisco’s TB troubles were also known. 71’s previous owner had passed away many years ago and Maggie was a lone elephant from Alaska.  Eventually vet staff was allowed to review the documents as it was clearly ludicrous not to mention suspicious not to have veterinary staff review the documents. But it was certainly strategically advantageous for PAWS to maintain the façade of world class bio security protocols by preventing veterinary experts’ access to information which might undermine those world class claims. Eventual FOIA from the University of Calgary evidenced what the vets found in those reports

According to PAWS and Zoocheck the vet for PAWS at the time of Ruby’s death was the vet they were parading around as an expert, Dr. Mel Richardson. The same vet who at the November 2012 City of Toronto Executive Committee Meeting had no idea how many elephants had died at PAWS under his supposed watch. That would be 6, in four years. It is pretty hard to not remember that 6 elephants died while under your “expert” veterinary care. In fact all the PAWS supporters and deputants at that meeting were asked the same question; none of them knew the answer. Dr. Richardson has been involved in cases where he has made ocular inspections of an animal like Mali, the elephant in Manila Zoo (here) only to be disproven by an IUCN expert who had access to Mali’s blood sample. Dr. Richardson is a paid advocate for animal rights groups in the USA and far from impartial. At the November 27, 2012 City Council meeting to re-vote on this issue no public or citizen deputations were allowed however they allowed a video-taped deputation from Dr. Richardson.

 The zoo rightfully requested the tissue cultures on Ruby, PAWS stated they had no more medical documents to give. According to Zoo staff PAWS was uncooperative throughout the entire due diligence process as stated in the Zoo’s Elephant Transfer update press conference on September 25, 2012.  As a result of this press conference PAWS sent a legal letter to the Toronto Zoo Board in October, 2012. PAWS considered the statements of the zoo at this meeting to be defamatory, indicated in City of Toronto FOIA email from Julie Woodyer.  FOIA requests to USDA, California Fish and Game and California Health Department came up empty, proving that no tissue cultures were ever done on Ruby. Clearly if tissue cultures were done and TB was found and officially documented in their African herd PAWs would not currently be in receipt of the Toronto zoo elephants, they would not have been considered in the first place and likely would have been restricted by their local and federal agencies from integrating any new elephants into what is basically their financial life blood, their African herd at PAWS. Both their Asian and African herds would be considered high risk for tuberculosis. They would have no means to accept any new elephants of any species. FOIA indicated that PAWS had a human case of sero conversion to tuberculosis (here pg.12). Zoos Matter followed up and accessed the genotypes (and here) for the two current cases of human tuberculosis (as of January 2013) in PAWS’s Calaveras County. Those genotypes did not match any of the documented TB strains of any PAWS elephant but they did match an elephant named Calle. We followed the elephant trail and easily connected Calle’s strain of TB to the African herd and to PAWS through two Asian elephants, Calle (deceased from tuberculosis) and Tinkerbelle (deceased complications from chronic foot infections).

Ruby had lived with an Asian elephant named Gita at the LA Zoo. After Gita died in June of 2006 Ruby was transferred to PAWS in May of 2007 where she lived in a shared barn with both the Asians and Africans until late 2009, all the female elephants shared this one barn since 2004.  Detailed reviews of dated photographs, videos and news articles and in PAWS and Pat Derby’s own words (and here) evidence this. LA Zoo had a TB outbreak from 1997-2000. Before living with Ruby Gita lived 2 other Asians, Annie (not PAWS Annie who is now TB+) and Calle. Both Annie and Calle died from tuberculosis. Annie died on March 22, 1997 from tuberculosis at the LA Zoo, Calle was transferred to San Francisco Zoo where she lived with an Asian named Tinkerbelle. Tinkerbelle was transferred to PAWS in November 28, 2004 and died just 4 months later from severe foot infections Calle died March 6, 2004 of tuberculosis at San Francisco Zoo in 2004. Pat Derby can be seen here handling Tinkerbelle without proper protective gear. One has to wonder with such compromised health issues why activists demanded that Tinkerbelle be transferred in the first place and not humanely euthanized at the zoo. One can only imagine that perhaps PAWS’s arrogance drove them to believe they could magically heal her. Nevertheless there are no tissue cultures for Tinkerbelle either. One other elephant came from the San Francisco Zoo, an African named Lulu who currently lives in the PAWS African herd. Of the three remaining Africans at PAWS two are in the same age range as Toronto’s Thika.  PAWS has claimed that our elephants will be their last.  At some point that African herd will be down to 2 then 1, living a life of solitude.  At the National Elephant Center there will always be family groups of elephants, they will never be alone or die alone.

Without Ruby’s tissue cultures PAWS cannot prove there is no Tuberculosis in the African herd. Statpak tests have proven to be useless when animals have already been exposed to or infected with  TB (evidenced in Rebecca’s case) and trunk washes are notoriously unreliable. This is all evidenced by PAWS own experiences as all trunk washes for Rebecca, Annie and Wanda were negative (pg.26-27) even up until Rebecca’s death from tuberculosis. According to the Dr. Cork report and the information supplied to them by PAWS, the sanctuary has NEVER had a positive trunk wash result? How exactly did they diagnose Sabu?  Somehow Rebecca’s STATPAK test was misdiagnosed as she would have had some kind of reaction due to her past history of exposure and treatment. Her STATPAK tests would have presented with positive reactions which must have been misinterpreted as residual from her previous diagnosis for TB back in 2002 (she was treated at PAWS). One has to wonder if Ruby’s Statpak tests, due to treatment and exposure would have shown some kind of reaction that was also misdiagnosed.  Imagine their panic when upon necropsy of Ruby they found a bronchial mass. Not having this cultured was irresponsible elephant management practise and evidence of reckless bio security FAILURE. There can only be one explanation as to why cultures were not done and I will leave that up to you to evaluate. tb TZOO ELLIE

The evidence of risks of tuberculosis within the African herd at PAWS is near conclusive. It can only be “near” as there are crucial missing pieces of medical information which would determine once and for all if the herd had been exposed; tissue cultures for both Ruby and 71. Toronto City Council refuses to listen to anything which might challenge their egos and dogma and our CEO is pandering to council to save his 200k a year job despite having the legal right according to the contract to say no on the grounds of tuberculosis. (Item 17). The entire senior professional staff at the Toronto Zoo is against this transfer and their professional authority has been overridden by politicians and animal rights groups. By October 2012 there were threats of legal action against the Toronto Zoo and a Swedish blogger and keeper/creator of the internet’s most comprehensive database on captive elephants worldwide had also been threatened with legal action by PAWS.

On November 5, 2012 by order of the Toronto Executive Committee council was to re-vote on this issue. You can review some of the recorded deputations from the meeting here. You would think with the overwhelming evidence of tuberculosis transmission on site and the attempts to cover this up and keep it from the zoo and the people of Toronto that council would have had the good sense to re-evaluate their earlier decision. Instead Toronto Council adopted what they claim was an independent report which stated PAWS’s bio security was in good stead, The Dr. Cork report. We have evidence that this report was commissioned by and paid for by Zoocheck Canada (here and here and here pg.7) and that Dr. Cork based her report entirely on information supplied to her by PAWS. FOIA evidences that Zoocheck requested the report on behalf of the City of Toronto yet no record exists of any official or unofficial request of this nature from the City or Councillors, just the email request from Zoocheck’s Julie Woodyer. Council chose this report over the Toronto Zoo staff’s due diligence report (supporting DD documents here) so that they could move forward with the move to PAWS despite the overwhelming evidence of tuberculosis risks. By doing so Council could claim the due diligence was complete and then Zoocheck could lobby the Royal Canadian Air force for a plane and at the same time apply for road transport permits in case RCAF refused. The significance of the Dr. Cork report.

The report provided by Dr. Cork was potentially “misleading” based on subsection 11 of Canadian Federal CITES law WAPPRIITA , and a proper assessment should be conducted by CANADIAN Federal authorities or more neutral parties, on the grounds that the USDA sent two infected/exposed specimens to PAWS (by their own admission) and might not be the most impartial agency to conduct due diligence review. (Here)

The Health of Animals Act states that no person should conceal the existence of disease . There are instances where PAWS refused to comply with requests for more information (tissue cultures) and the failure to allow the Toronto Zoo vets access to the quarantined barns (here) as concealment of disease. We also have evidence of Councillors misleading the public in the media about tuberculosis at PAWS and going so far as to claim there was no TB at PAWs at a time when FOIA indicates there was.

From the get go it was stated by council and the zoo board that relocation to PAWS would require air transport, that air transport was the most humane mode of transport for such a long transport distance, 4200km give or take a few hundred for detours. It was never etched in stone, city motions and rulings do not say air transport only but it was verbally stated by Councillors and the Zoo staff, the Zoo Board and quoted in the media, city council meetings and in FOIA correspondence.

  • Toronto Zoo Due Diligence (pg.5-6)
  • Toronto Zoo Board Meeting Nov.20/2012 (pg.5)
  • City Councillor Email Correspondence (pg.8)

Zoocheck and PAWS won public favour by having Bob Barker, to much media fanfare promise $800,000.00 to fly the elephants. For 18 months this is what they said. The first plane was an Antonov-124 Russian cargo plane with a low pressure cargo hold which would have broken international aviation laws and would have been a medical health risk to the elephants. We challenged this on social media and at City Hall as unsafe and dangerous. Regardless of the concerns Councillors and Zoocheck pushed for the transport in this plane and to top it off they pushed for it in the month of August of 2012, the hottest month of the year. We successfully fought this and won but PAWS with their seemingly infinite bank account put out a press release claiming they had decided to delay the transport on those dates due to the heat and inherent risks, you can read their claims here (Toronto Star) and here (CBC News). The press release appeared as a news article and went viral.  But recent FOIA indicates that they were fully prepared to transfer the elephants in that plane during that month. Councillor Cho made several failed attempts to bring a Motion without Notice on this issue to force the August transport date at a July, 2012 Council Meeting. That transfer date accommodated the plane’s schedule in North America and in Zoocheck’s own words would save Bob Barker a few hundred thousand dollars. Better off dead than captive bred, even if it means killing these elephants in an effort to get them to what activists claim is “freedom”. Tuberculosis is not freedom, dying en route to a sanctuary is not freedom. Being sacrificed in the name of a cause is not freedom, it is exploitation. Do not be fooled by well crafted expensive press releases, it was not PAWS, Zoocheck Bob Barker or the pro-PAWS City Councillors who stopped that August transport. It was lobbied hard by citizens and by zoo supporters. Zoocheck and PAWS were more than willing to follow through with transport in August of 2012 but it was stopped. They were more than willing to transport the elephants in this unsuitable aircraft during the hottest month of the year and now we are to consider and value their “expertise” on their mode of transport changes and a 4200km non-stop road trip?

lies

Now it is August of 2013. Almost 2 years later. Many on council are driven by their refusal to pay the transport costs and their decisions have nothing to do with what is best for our elephants. Others are driven at this point by ego refusing to admit they made a mistake, and the driving force behind support for PAWS is  extremist anti-zoo ideology and money. Imagine the momentum for large animal rights organizations when they can hail this as a victory over the AZA, a victory against zoos.

I saved the most despicable for last. After almost 2 years of promises Zoocheck have claimed that they cannot find a commercial plane (pg 10) large enough to transport the crate for our largest elephant, Thika. At least this is what they told the Department of National Defence (here). The first plane, the Anotnov-124 was deemed unsafe and would violate IATA transport laws for live animals. The Toronto Zoo elephants are massive and with crate dimensions included Zoocheck claims there is no plane large enough to load and unload through a plane’s cargo doors despite having been given a perfectly viable air transport plan by a reputable elephant transport specialist. The zoo CEO and Zoo Board Chair have allowed Zoocheck and PAWS to interpret the contract and Council motions in such a way that Active Environments now have control over the mode of transport; there is no evidence that this company has ever undertaken a move of this size and distance. They have now chosen to truck the elephants the 4200km to PAWS. In a letter written to the DND by PAWS’s lawyers in Toronto Zoocheck claims the road trip will take 4.5 days and that no commercial option is available (even though there were viable commercial quotes). This was to influence the DND to commit a RCAF plane to transport the elephants. Of course transporting them by RCAF would make a great news story and excellent PR for PAWs, Zoocheck and the Councillors involved in this travesty of justice. The request to the DND and RCAF was all over the media as if it was a done deal when a detailed review had yet to be conducted to assess the logistics. One of the 8 questions asked by the DND was whether or not there were any commercial options; they cannot compete with a commercial operator if one is available (here Pg.10). Zoocheck claimed there was no viable commercial offers, publicly in the media and privately with their contributions to the 8 question response from the City of Toronto to the DND and in a legal letter (here pg.8-10) sent by PAWS lawyers in Toronto. The City of Toronto even sent an official request to the DND also stating that there was no commercial option. However City of  Toronto FOIA indicates that a viable and legal commercial quote from an experienced elephant transport company was forwarded to the DND. Is this why the RCAF deal never flew? One can only wonder. I imagine the DND does not take kindly to being lied to. At no point in any of the FOIA do Zoocheck, the zoo’s CEO or Board Chair or City Officials mention the previously submitted commercial quote to the DND or the reason why they may have rejected it. To our knowledge, having reviewed the commercial proposal it met all the legal and ethical requirements for safe and humane air transport. The DND only found out about the quote submission because the company in question forwarded the quote themselves. (here Pg.11)

Keep in mind the Toronto Zoo elephants have limited travel experience, only once for the older ones in their youth and Thika has never travelled. They are protect contact elephants, once they are on those crates they are stuck there for 4200km. All feeding, watering, feces removal and vet care must be done through the crate openings. In case of an emergency only a crane can remove the crates and once crates are removed as protected contact elephants they need to be offloaded at a zoological facility equipped to manage the girls and provide space for them. You cannot predetermine the timing of a medical emergency, and if one of these elephants has a medical emergency the odds while driving across the Midwest of being close to a facility which meets these criteria are pretty slim. (map). Active Environments are not a transport company, they are a training and management company who have been given control over a transport plan of three elephants unlike anything they have ever undertaken before. Contrary to what has been claimed AE is not the company which executed all of the logistics to transport the African elephant Maggie by plane to PAWS from Alaska, it was in fact the company which offered the commercial quote to transport the Toronto Zoo elephants by air. It just makes you go hmmmm?

 It would appear from the most recent City of Toronto FOIA that Zoocheck has convinced Bob Barker that the zoo staff will somehow attempt to disrupt the loading and transport process. Their job has been to train the elephants to enter their crates, they have done this. Active Environments are claimed to be expert elephant trainers and PAWS claims this too, surely now that the elephants have been trained by the award winning elephant management team at the Toronto Zoo PAWS and Active Environments can load them onto a couple of trucks? But as a result of more childish manipulation by Zoocheck Mr. Barker is hesitant to put the money up front for the costs of air transport despite making this promise in the media again and again. It seems Zoocheck’s constant private (in emails) and public media antics disparaging the zoo staff have likely planted this fear in his head and as a result the girls are now forced to be transported by road, it has nothing to do with our elephants being too big for transport by air.  It has everything to do with money and deceit. City Council is willing to risk these elephant’s lives to save a few bucks or cater to animal rights ideology and it appears these so called animal welfare activists are willing to do the same. After being accused of having nefarious and selfish motives for two years now it seems that the only people who are truly concerned about the true welfare of these animals are the zoo staff and citizens who have fought this transfer from day one.

Better off dead than captive bred? Seems this catch phrase for the anti zoo movement will hold true if we allow a horse transport company to transport 3 elephants, 44yrs, 43yrs and 32yrs non-stop over 4200km into the cold westerly climate and temperatures of the Rocky Mountains in the month of October only to face possible tuberculosis exposure. All in the name of animal welfare?

Our source at a USA agency informs us that PAWS and Zoocheck are now currently lobbying USA government agencies with an application for a variance to waive the 28hr law so that they can drive with limited or no stops to California, 4200km. Rob Laidlaw has indicated in email correspondence that they will truck these elephants non-stop for what he claims is a 50 hour trip. It is likely to exceed 50hrs and that is not taking into consideration the unforeseen, that which you cannot predict. One only has to recall last summer’s tragic death during transport of three seals from an Ontario zoo, a move and a transfer which was initiated by and pushed by Zoocheck Canada. Two of the seals died within hours of the start of the move, one died later after it arrived at the St. Louis Zoo, Zoocheck of course blamed the transporter and the zoo.

We feel this entire transfer is inhumane but the Toronto Zoo is a registered research facility in Ontario and therefore exempt from the Animal Welfare Laws which could challenge this as inhumane.  However according to the Animal Welfare laws in Ontario this transport is inhumane. According to what WSPA Canada lobbies for on behalf of livestock in transport to slaughter it is inhumane. According to the 28Hr law in the United States it is inhumane and according to PETA if a circus transfers an animal for this length or time, chained and immobile it is inhumane. According to many animal welfare activists it is INHUMANE and according to The Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and the Animal Welfare Act they enforce  it is inhumane. And finally according to the Federation of Canadian Humane Societies, exceeding the duration of recommended transport times by the Canadian Federation of Humane Societies qualifies as putting an animal in “distress” (here pg.13 subsection 64) and (here). In fact The Canadian Federation of Humane Societies does not recommend transportation longer than 52 hours for farm animals so the land transport plan of 50+ hours is in direct contravention of what is cited in the Federal Health of Animals Act. Because guess what? It is inhumane to transfer three disease-free animals (two ageing) 4200km cross country chained in a crate on a truck for 4.5 days to a facility with a known tuberculosis outbreak and risks in the herd they will be integrated into. It is inhuman because there is a closer, disease free facility willing to take these elephants. For $250k in cost savings to transport to Florida the City of Toronto will risk the lives of the Toronto Zoo elephants. And for those of you who are thinking why don’t you contact these organizations? We have. Not one has responded to our emails of concern over this inhumane and unethical transport and transfer. They support a transport plan which is considered less humane than what is legally allowable and ethically acceptable for animals being sent to slaughter?20121229-100324.jpg

In a nutshell it is an animal welfare nightmare where ideology has taken precedence over the true welfare and well being of these three elephants. Facts, science and common sense are ignored and replaced by some kind of desperation to have these elephants at any cost, including risking their lives in transport or to tuberculosis. Councillor Raymond Cho at the November 27, 2012 council meeting said “Our elephants are so old anyway what difference does it make if they die from tuberculosis”, he honestly said this! Councillor Josh Matlow said “If the elephants could choose for themselves, don’t you think they would choose to take this risk?” He admits there is a risk and clearly council is willing to take that risk with these elephant’s lives in order to remain infallible and cater to their ideology or save a few bucks. You can view the archives of the meeting (here) and review the motions (here). Ironically if council had allowed the zoo to make the decision the elephants would be in Florida, they would have already been there for an entire year which would have saved the city over one million dollars. And more ironically animal rights groups claim zoos exploit animals for profit, greed and gain. In the case of the Toronto Zoo elephants the only people exploiting these elephants are the animal rights groups and their supporters, using Iringa, Toka and Thika as poster children for their campaigns, personal philosophies and a victory against zoos. As you can see it is a political nightmare where we have proof and evidence that PAWS is the wrong facility for these elephants and that their lives will be risked with such a long transport and then further risked due to tuberculosis risks in the African herd.

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Our elephants can contribute the future of wild elephants and aid in the improvement of captive elephant care in zoos in North America if they are a part of the new program at TNEC. TNEC will train zoos and zoo keepers how to use protected contact in order to phase of the use of elephant hooks, the Toronto Zoo elephants as training models from an award winning elephant management program at the Toronto Zoo would have aided in phasing out the elephant hook in all AZA facilities. Instead they will be tucked away at PAWS where only the well to do who can afford the $250 a day entrance fee will ever see them. At PAWS they will aid in raising money for PAWS and their affiliates like Born Free USA and In Defense of Animals to further campaign against zoos. Campaigning with millions of dollars salvation for the 450 elephants in captivity in North America which is about 1% of the total number of wild elephants which are slaughtered for their ivory  every year. Did this all come down to no one wanting to or being able to put up the money up front to be reimbursed later by Mr. Barker? The promise and commitment to air transport was made and they cannot deliver, the promise there was no tuberculosis was made and it was untrue. This contract was signed under false pretences and broken promises. The CEO of the Toronto Zoo John Tracogna has the power to veto this contract and he chooses to pander to politicians and pay cheques instead of listening to the zoological professionals. This transfer has to be stopped.

What the public doesn’t know:

  • The African elephants at PAWs shared a barn with the currently TB infected Asian elephants for almost 5 years
  • The last African elephant to die at PAWS (who had a high risk history of exposure to TB including at PAWS) had no cause of death determined. No tissue cultures done on this elephant, Ruby. Ruby lived with Asian elephant Gita who lived with two now deceased from TB elephants Annie and Calle. Toronto Zoo vets noted that a mediastinal bronchial mass was found at Ruby’s necropsy, the tissues were not cultured
  • 71 a deceased African Elephant had no tissue cultures done
  • Ruby was treated at LA Zoo as a precautionary measure (LA Zoo had a TB outbreak 1997-2000)
  • Tuberculosis has a 2-20 incubation period
  • Latent tuberculosis is difficult to diagnose in a living elephant
  • The 2nd strain of tuberculosis found in deceased Rebecca at PAWS is a new strain of TB not previously known to elephants, where did Rebecca get this strain?
  • Sabu died TB+, he also had a second strain of TB different from the one he was diagnosed with in 2001
  • The people of this city do not know that Councillors Berardinetti and DeBaeremaeker literally lied to them about TB at PAWS. They also lied about staff, blaming them for this opposition and DeBaeremaeker in several incidences claimed that zoo staff were going to lose their jobs when this is entirely untrue.
  • Annie was treated when statpak reactive for one year and STILL converted to active TB
  • They had no idea Rebecca was TB positive until after she died so no protective gear was worn by staff
  • All Statpak and trunk wash results for Rebecca, Annie and Wanda were negative prior to Rebecca’s conversion
  • 2 elephants were exposed and infected on site at PAWS
  • There is a confirmed case of human tuberculosis transmission at PAWS (see relevance here as it pertains to Ruby deceased African elephant) and here, here and here
  • The two active cases of human TB in PAWS County, Calaveras County match the elephant named Calle, deceased from tuberculosis at San Francisco Zoo 2004 (see supporting evidence and relevance here and here)
  • There are missing tissue cultures for deceased African elephants
  • There is missing trunk wash data for several elephants including Africans
  • Evidence indicates that the local Calaveras county health department had NO IDEA there was a TB+ elephant at PAWS

Some of our presentations and other research

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Dear Jane Goodall, sorry but you are full of crap and you jumped the shark

http://www.sacurrent.com/Blogs/archives/2015/09/25/jane-goodall-calls-keeping-elephants-like-lucky-alone-wrong-inspires-crowd-at-trinity-lecture

You claim keeping a zoo elephant alone is hypocritewrong?

Ok well then lets hear what you have to say about Gypsy, Thika and Toka being kept isolated and alone at The Performing Animal Welfare Society. Why have you not spoken up about this? Remember the Toronto Zoo elephants? You supported the inhumane 85hr road transport of the three pachyderms to California. Within two months Thika was segregated and then lived alone for 18 months. By all accounts she is still living alone. Iringa died just 20 months after arriving at PAWS. Is an elephant living isolated and alone at a sanctuary aware of some kind of difference between its life at a zoo vs its life at a sanctuary? No, actually it is not. Elephants don’t cry and they don’t make comparisons of that sort. “Oh Im alone but I am at a sanctuary so its ok”, there are actually people who believe this nonsense and you, a renowned scientist promote and perpetuate this kind of ignorance and lack of logical and scientific thinking with your constant back and forth on your support of good zoos and your flip flopping and increasingly unimportant opinions.

None of the Toronto elephants have begun integration with PAWS existing African herd, and if you don’t remember the reason for the Toronto Zoo re-homing their elephants IT WAS TO ENHANCE THEIR SOCIAL WELL BEING.

Gypsy lives alone because her entire herd HAS DIED OFF after exposure to undiagnosed tuberculosis onsite at the PAWS sanctuary. Yet here you are blah blah blahhing again against good zoos. Throwing your primate expertise around like it was the word of god. You poked your nose into the Toronto Zoo elephant debate and ignored all the scientific evidence sent to you about tuberculosis at the facility then you did it again with the Woodland Park Zoo elephants and here you are again shopping for new elephants to fill the empty herds at PAWS and other sanctuaries who seem to have their own issues with keeping elephants alive and socially enriched. FYI The Woodland Park Zoo elephants were integrated into their new multi generational family group in less than three months….two years later The Toronto elephants are still not integrated. What do you have to say about that?

If you are going to speak out against a lone elephant in a zoo then it is your professional responsibility to also speak out about the lone elephants living at american sanctuaries. You have used zoos your entire life to inspire your love of wildlife, to fund your research and to aid in your many causes and organizations. How can you have any credibility as a scientist or any self respect for that matter if you don’t speak up about those lone sanctuary elephants? But it seems in your later years you have decided you no longer need zoos and be damned all the other young people out there who use zoos as a springboard to develop a love of the study of science and the natural world. I imagine if we just follow the money we would see what motivates you these days.

Once an idol for me you have become a joke, throwing your famous name around in the name of extremist dogma and donations. Its sad that you have become such a hypocrite in your old age.

You autographed books are off to the thrift store.

Can you tell the difference Jane?

Can you tell the difference?

Can you tell the difference?

Woodland Park Zoo vs Bunny the Elephant from Tennessee Sanctuary

The Story of Bunny from Tennessee Elephant Sanctuary

The Hypocrisy and Corruption of the USDA

The following is a summary from the USDA regarding the death of Bunny the elephant at Tennessee Elephant Sanctuary and the USDA’s subsequent clearing of TES of any wrong doing, judge for yourself.

http://www.aphis.usda.gov/foia/foia_requests/2010/Animal%20Care%20(AC)/10-056%20-%20The%20Elephant%20Sanctuary/10-056records.pdf

On May 14, 2009, an elephant named Bunny died at The Elephant Sanctuary (TES), located in Hohenwald, Tennessee. Bunny was a fifty-seven year old, female, Asian elephant that arrived at TES in September of 1999. Bunny had a long history of foot problems prior to arriving at TES which subsided during her stay at TES. Her foot problems and the discovery of arthritis in her hind hip during her necropsy may have contributed to her downfall. Bunny went down on May 2, 2009 recovered even when she was hoisted to her feet with a back hoe. –(name redacted)–(name redacted) and the staff at TES continually discussed the option of euthanasia but decided against it as in their opinion the elephant was not suffering due to the pain medications she was receiving. Bunny was kept from exposure of the elements by stretching a tarp above her and covering her with blankets when necessary. The necropsy on Bunny was led by. University of Georgia, Veterinarian, (name redacted) who stated that she would not be able to give me any kind of statement until the cultures were finished incubating, and the dean and general counsel of the university approved her statement. I do not expect her statement until January of 2010.

*(Note how they qualify Bunny’s health issues by reminding everyone that her problems occurred before she arrived and of course got better afterwards however I am certain no zoo or circus would have allowed any animal to lie under a tarp outside and die for 12 days)

**( No statement from this veterinarian on the resulting cultures seems to be publically available)

Check out this little gem pulled off the net a few years ago where Sofranko cites work as a veterinarian at TES on her resume.

 

sofranko.CV

sofrank.resume

Perhaps Dr. Sofranko can explain what is happening to these elephants at TES? How can this NOT be a CONFLICT OF INTEREST? She worked there and now she is allowed to write up inspection reports? Do you really think she is reporting fairly, honestly and without without bias? If you answered yes I sincerely hope you enjoy taking your Unicorn for a walk this evening because you are either a naive child or a crazy person.

What is happening here?

What is happening here?

A Freedom of Information request was made last year to the USDA inquiring about any tuberculosis at the facility. The report came back with zero information about TB. That was odd considering we all know there are elephants with TB there. Just a few months after that FOI response the sanctuary announced a case of tuberculosis in one of their elephants, funny how the USDA FOI request mentioned nothing about TB.

In a final note a little shout out to Bob Barker, Mind your own backyard buddy. While you are sending letters to Seattle City Council promoting your private zoo at PAWS and sanctuaries like TES citing in your non expert opinions alleged unhappy and unhealthy elephants in zoos like Woodland Park, why the hell dont you do something about this at TES? Or Thika at PAWS living alone and away from her family herd? Or Annie likely dying from TB at PAWS?

You sir are the greatest hypocrite of all.

We find it the height of hypocrisy that you would have the nerve to call anyone out on the humane treatment of elephants. We will address a few facts about the Toronto Zoo elephant saga so we can to level out the playing field in your latest attempt to name and shame Jimmy Fallon for having a live elephant on his show. We would like to ask you a few questions, like why after 8 months the Toronto Zoo elephants have not been integrated with your existing herd and why it appears by all accounts, that Thika is in fact isolated from her family. Why don’t we see this family herd together anymore? She lived with that herd for over 30yrs without incident. Let’s talk about YOUR record of humanity towards elephants Mr. Stewart. You see we have a little experience with your name and shame campaigns and we believe that your record and claims of being experts on captive elephants is flawed. We fought to send the Toronto Zoo elephants to The National Elephant Center in Florida. You lobbied alongside animal rights groups to acquire them and with the help of animal rights leaning Toronto City Councillors you won. But it was not by any means a fair fight.
PAWS has no right to accuse anyone of inhumane actions towards elephants after what you
did to The Toronto Zoo elephants.

The elephant hook is the animal rights movements’ greatest propaganda tool against elephants in captivity, who really wields this tool abusively? We believe that propaganda is also weapon of abuse. Such as the propaganda you used to denigrate and degrade the Toronto Zoo and its staff. Perhaps if you were to able adapt the proper humane use of the elephant guide and some established free contact methods you would have been able to train your TB infected elephant Annie to receive her tuberculosis treatments sooner than later, sooner meaning earlier than 6 months after she was officially diagnosed with the disease. It is your responsibility to execute treatment of your animals, leaving an animal to suffer from disease goes against the Five Freedoms, the animal rights bible if you will, “Freedom from pain, injury or disease by prevention or rapid diagnosis and treatment.” and “Freedom from fear and distress by ensuring conditions and treatment which avoid mental suffering”. To date no one has a clue what has happened to Annie and it appears that your adoring fans who love elephants so much don’t even care about what happened to her. Where is Annie? Is she living in quarantine and isolated from her family group? Socially deprived? Is she even being treated? Is she dying? It seems once the Toronto 3 arrived Annie was pushed under the rug like so many other elephants that have passed away in PAWS care. Let’s have a brief refresher course on what you Mr. Stewart consider to be humane as you are the self-proclaimed experts on all things humane for captive elephants. First look back up at that picture of The Toronto Zoo’s healthiest and youngest elephant Thika. The photos were taken just one month before her transport to PAWS in California. Now look at Thika just four days after her horrifically long and cruel transport to PAWS last October 2013. Less than a week after arriving at PAWS Thika looked dehydrated disorientated and near death. You blamed low vitamin E and the zoo for this , not 80+ hours trapped in a crate or 70+ hours on the road. The elephants received Vitamin E shots prior to Transport. This is documented.

What we learned about PAWS:

o Covered up a tuberculosis outbreak at your facility in order to lobby for the Toronto Zoo elephants and present a false front that the PAWS facility was disease free when in fact you had an on-site tuberculosis outbreak. You failed to tell the truth about Tuberculosis at their facility to the people of Toronto
o Were unable to diagnose TB at their facility and as a result one elephant died and two other elephants were infected. You DID NOT tell the Toronto Zoo or the Toronto Media; in fact you publically denied the presence of active TB entirely and accused zoo staff of lying
o The bull elephant Sabu died at PAWS from tuberculosis January 2012; You knew he was TB+ just three months before Toronto Council voted to send the Toronto Elephants to PAWS. You again attempted to cover up the cause of death claiming Sabu died from severe arthritis when USDA necropsy reports indicated Sabu was TB+ at the time of his death
o Ruby was an African elephant who died at PAWS just two months before the Toronto Zoo announced they would phase out their elephant program in the spring of 2011. You were already lobbying alongside Zoocheck and their animal rights leaning affiliates on City council. Ruby’s cause of death has never been determined or made public.
• The Toronto Zoo vets asked for the necropsy and health reports on deceased elephants at PAWS and you cried foul throwing legal threats at the zoo claiming you could not share that information due to legal agreements with previous owners. You were finally forced to share the necropsy reports but you used these legal threats to deny the Toronto Zoo vets the opportunity to share their eventual necropsy findings with the people of Toronto

• Through Freedom of Information it was proven that PAWS and Zoocheck paid a Dr. Susan Cork from the University of Calgary to write a rave review about PAWS’s “perfect and world class “disease prevention protocols”. Toronto City Council eventually used that paid report over the Due Diligence findings of the Toronto Zoo experts and veterinary staff. The PAWS report from Dr. Cork was missing key data on tuberculosis at the facility including elephant to human transmission, it was paid advocacy
Through Freedom of Information requests from the University of Calgary we were able to access the necropsy results for Ruby and why the Toronto Zoo vets were so concerned.
What did the necropsy report say?
• Ruby had a mediastinal mass on her lung and mysterious lumps on her lymph nodes at time of death. PAWS made the decision NOT to send Ruby’s tissues for culture to determine the nature of those masses, if they were tuberculosis or some other disease. Ruby had a five time history of exposure to tuberculosis including at PAWS facility where she had lived in a shared barn with the now infected or deceased from TB Asian elephants
• This was never shared with the Toronto media or public, the zoo staff were censored
Why did YOU choose not to have those tissues cultured for disease? If she had TB it would have most certainly excluded PAWS as a possible new home for the Toronto Zoo elephants that’s why. A responsible animal caregiver and animal welfare advocate would have wanted to ensure the African herd was free of disease before introducing a disease free healthy herd. You didn’t care you just wanted to win, animal liberation ideology and victories superseded true animal welfare. African elephants make people money, not just for zoos but for sanctuaries too. We know you know this.
YOU cannot prove your African herd was not exposed to tuberculosis. Any African or Asian elephant which is sent to PAWS runs the risk of exposure to tuberculosis. Trunk wash data failed to diagnose tuberculosis in the elephant which transmitted the disease to others at PAWS – that elephant Rebecca died from tuberculosis.
Yes, some zoos get tuberculosis outbreaks. However the difference is TRANSPARANCY, zoos are upfront and honest about the health and welfare of their animals, PAWS is not. Zoos would not wilfully expose a disease free animal to disease because zoos care about the preservation of the species. As a private facility with known relationships with USDA inspectors PAWS benefits from the legal right to secrecy. Had it not been for our efforts to find the truth no one would ever have known that:
PAWS had an outbreak of tuberculosis and on-site transmission to both humans and elephants.
Ruby the African elephant had no tissues cultured for disease at the time of her death despite masses found on both her lungs and lymph nodes and a 5x history of exposure
PAWS has no quarantine facilities – NONE. The Toronto 3 were housed immediately after arrival in the same barn with the existing PAWS herd. When Ruby arrived years ago she was quarantined for just ten days. You don’t quarantine animals in the same barn!
Transport! The greatest hypocrisy of them all
o PAWS and Bob Barker lobby the Travelling Exotic Animal Protection Act on Capital hill, claiming that even short distances for transport can be physically and emotionally devastating to elephants yet YOU were willing to transport the Toronto Zoo elephants by truck the entire distance to California from Toronto, over 70 hours of transport time and over 85 hours trapped in crates
o The means justified the end for PAWS despite the risks and when Thika was literally physically deteriorated to the point of near death after arrival you pretended it was the condition she was in before she left the Toronto Zoo. This of course was a flat out lie; there are thousands of Toronto Zoo patron’s photographs proving this
o The brakes on the truck transporting Thika “burned out” on the Donner Pass causing her to be left behind for more than an hour and separated from the only family she has ever known. We feel strongly based on consultation with elephant management experts from around the world that this separation after almost 70 hours of road transport (the first in her life) was likely responsible for the trauma and subsequent physical damage she suffered. Time was of the essence as the daylight was fading and you needed to film the victorious arrival, there was no time to wait for Thika. Were you speeding? And if so why?
o PAWS promised to fly the Toronto 3 but clearly never had any intentions of flying them. You threw Bob Barkers million dollar flight plan around in the media to sway public and political opinions. You rejected a viable flight plan claiming it was not possible yet less than a year later Mila, an African elephant from New Zealand was flown to the San Diego zoo using that very plan, the same plane and the same crate modifications. Mila was integrated into the existing herd at San Diego within months. Toronto animal rights Councillors decried in council that the 30 hour trip by truck to Florida (The zoo’s choice) would be inhumane and cruel. You supported those claims
o PAWS kicked the Toronto Zoo keepers out the morning after arrival of the elephants and refused to allow them to aid in the integration process. Bob Barker verbally abused them and said “we were all crying and laughing but most of the crying was from those miserable keepers from the Toronto Zoo”. Yes they were crying, they just spent over 80 hours caring for animals they loved and worrying about their health and welfare. They had been lied about, publically harassed and stalked on social media for three years by the arrogance of you and your supporters. Their beloved elephants were being sent into a herd with potential deadly disease risks and then they were forced to emotionally abandon them. As you bragged about their victory it was the Toronto Keepers who were able to coax the traumatized Thika out of her crate, not you
o PAWS proceeded to allow Thika to spend that first night outside on a cold October evening even though trauma from transport could have aided in the onset of capture myopathy related hypothermia and killed her. This is the time period where Thika withered to near death as evidenced in the photos above, both Toka and Iringa were limping horrifically
o PAWS claims long or even any transport of elephants is wrong. Through your own arrogance you have now set a new precedent for the transport of elephants in North America, a transport you claim to ideologically oppose as inhumane
o After over 8 months you cannot even integrate the Toronto herd with their existing herd, to make matters worse you are unable to integrate Thika with her own Toronto Family group. You parade your experts around claiming an elephant living in isolation without family is cruel and here they have both Annie and Thika living alone. The Calgary Zoo elephants have been partially integrated at the Smithsonian Zoo in just a matter of weeks after arrival – Why can’t PAWS integrate the Toronto herd? You claim they are experts!
o There are no pictures or video evidence of the Toronto 3 even being introduced to PAWS elephants through a fence, no pictures of the Toronto 3 all together since the October/November of 2013, almost 8 months.
o
Ed, you wrote in a recent press release to The Tonight Show:

“Unfortunately for elephants, their use in entertainment equates with being subjected to highly unnatural and inhumane conditions. Elephants endure intensive confinement and long hours spent on chains, social deprivation, transport in cramped semi-trucks………..”

Isn’t this the kind of abuse PAWS and Zoocheck allowed transporting the 3 Toronto elephants?
Furthermore for your own benefit you allowed the transport to be filmed;
to become ENTERTAINMENT for your followers and a promotional tool for yourselves.

The transport management company you use owns marine parks in the Philippines which acquire dolphins and false killer whales from the slaughters in Taiji, Japan. The hypocrisy there is pretty self evident

“Look at us! We are better than a zoo!”
We have news for you Ed, at $250 dollars a day admission for guests
not only are you a zoo but you are an elitist zoo
The prime reason Toronto gave up their elephants was to enhance their social well being.
All PAWS has done in 8 months is segregate and destroy that family.
If there is one thing we have learned through the whole Toronto elephant ordeal it’s that PAWS are not really interested in helping ANYONE or ANY ELEPHANT they cannot themselves possess and own
You “helped” Toka, Thika and Iringa into chains for their 86 hour long trip and then you “helped” the keepers leave without so much as one hour of cross training with PAWS animal care staff. Your elephant management team refused to work with the Toronto staff while in Toronto to learn the routines and management care the elephants were accustomed to. By doing so the transition to their new home on the dusty, dry hills of California would have been made much easier for the elephants, again PAWS needs, campaigns and egos came first before the health and welfare of the Toronto Zoo elephants.
You twist and cater everything to suit your agendas, to raise the funds you need to control the media message and in your case to run your own private zoo. Yes that it how we see it Ed, you and Pat wanted to keep exotics and for years failed to do so without any financial success. Failure after failure until you figured out that elephants make money and draw media and celebrity attention. Pat was nothing more than a failed animal trainer, rejected by the animal training industry and ironically enough your first elephant together, Neena, disappeared without a trace or explanation. What happened to Neena Ed? Your fans are so busy gratifying themselves with your pre-packaged do-gooder smoke and mirrors PR campaigns they don’t even care about Neena, or Rebecca or Annie or Ruby and all the others. We care, about each and every one of them. There are so many unanswered questions about the health and well being of your elephants. By releasing well calculated photos, videos and updates and captioning everything to denigrate the animal’s previous lives at other facilities you create falsehoods and bias based on nothing more than expensive ad campaigns, emotional reactions and media manipulation. The only reason the Toronto Zoo elephants survived that trip is due to the award winning health and fitness management program which was run by the Toronto Zoo. Your elephants are bored and overweight and you admit you provide no enrichment and no fitness training. The highlight of the elephants’ days is likely when staff and the paying guests visit to feed the animals treats at the fence line. And yet the public continues to cry “sanctuary” unaware that both you and the Tennessee Sanctuary have had USDA and Fish and Wildlife restrictions placed on your facilities which deny the import of any more elephants at this time (both species for TES and Asians for PAWS). Why is that Ed?
As far as we are concerned PAWS was willing to expose the Toronto Zoo elephants to a deadly disease and an inhumane transport in an effort to win a public victory against zoos and for the financial perpetuation of their own private zoo. You used the Toronto Zoo elephants, the same way you accuse zoos of using elephants. You are hypocrites who have the nerve to attack anyone who owns elephants who doesn’t wear the moniker of “sanctuary” on their lapel. You throw your accreditation standards around in the media as the gold standard for animal care but it is an accrediting body which Ms. Derby herself aided in the creation of and then subsequently grandfathered herself and all the members of her original failed accreditation body TAOS so that they and others would not have to adhere the very standards you preach and demand from other sanctuaries, zoos and private owners. PAWS are not “experts”, not in the way you promote yourselves. You are however expert at manipulating the public and painting a picture of yourself as perfection and heaven for elephants. Perfection not so much, heaven perhaps is more correct, as PAWS is a quick and easy transition on the way to elephant heaven as you have had quite a few elephant deaths yourselves, many of which you claim the cause of death as “unknown”.
In the end your secrecy and well documented relationships with USDA inspectors and well funded “experts” ensure that PAWS can always continue to blame everyone else for any death at your facility and your army of the emotionally brainwashed will believe you. Facts and science must dictate not emotional ideologies. And the facts are that you are unable to integrate the Toronto herd with your existing herd, either due to your ineptitude or premeditated plans gone awry. Answer the questions Ed, what are you doing to these elephants? What happened to Thika? Where is the medical update that you are required to send the Toronto Zoo according to your legal agreements?
We would like to see PAWS:
o Be more transparent and honest about the health and welfare of their animals.
o Adhere to the legal agreement they have with the Toronto Zoo and send the health reports on the Toronto Zoo elephants.
o Release the health and medical documents for The Toronto 3 from immediately after transport
o Publicly release ALL trunk wash and Statpak data on ALL of your elephants from the past 12 months
o Release the necropsy reports and tissue cultures on all deceased elephants at PAWS
o Stop using your live animals as entertainment for paying guests
o Stop charging people $250 a day to visit or start calling yourself a zoo
o Explain what has happened to Annie
o Explain why the brakes on the truck transporting Thika “burned out” on the Donner Pass causing her to be left behind for more than an hour. We demand to know why you left her behind
o Explain what happened to cause Thika’s deteriorating health after transport
o Explain why you were speeding while transporting the Toronto Zoo elephants through the Donner Pass?
o Bring in Toronto Zoo keepers to aid in the integration of the Toronto 3 or explain why you are not able or willing to integrate them
o Stop being hypocrites
o Start being honest
Until you start providing answers Mr. Stewart PAWS will continue to be nothing more than a self serving hypocritical player in the animal liberation movement who subjected three innocent healthy animals to an inhumane transport, a potentially deadly disease and now social deprivation. You will attack and bully anyone if those attacks can bolster your public image or gain you assets, monetary or otherwise and you are allowed to operate with complete autonomy but the truth is out and now people want answers.
Signed,
The Truth

Liar Liar Pants on Fire!

liar_liar_pants_on_fire

It is the most common comment we get here at Zoos Matter and see on social media, you are liars. Yes that’s right we have spent 3 years carefully doctoring official government documents (lol) and posted them as facts without any legal repercussions. Of course the  army of blind faith animal rights followers wilfully avert their minds from rational thinking and we are the bad guys for exposing truths.

This comes as no surprise to us, it is the reason animal rights organizations like PETA rake in 25+ million dollars a years despite being exposed for the militant vegan movement it is and the deaths of 90% of the animals they take in, despite the Humane Society of United States being exposed for spending more money on lawyers and lobbying than actual animal welfare, less than 1% of what is donated. People just avoid those little truths so as to maintain their commitment to their personal self definitions as the chosen superior saviours of animals. Meanwhile corporate animal rights groups have destroyed the animal welfare movement, a more reasonable and realistic approach to hypocritehelping animals. By raking in those millions every year and diverting donations to themselves with slick ad campaigns HSUS, PETA and others have destroyed small animal rescue organizations which do the real work at ground level. But that is ok right? Because the big organizations have celebrities! OMG that is so much better than rolling up your sleeves with a bunch of nobody schmoes and really contributing. Faithfully reporting their propaganda online is much more effective and personally rewarding, right? More effective at giving you a sense of belonging to a cause with like minded people.  We get called many names, they amuse us. AZA Black Ops is a personal favourite.

Who are Zoos Matter? We get asked this a lot. We are not one person and we are not Toronto Zoo keepers as the ARA set would have people believe. The core of this 300+ organization is a research team of over 30 people from around the world, regular people with regular jobs, zoological experts, animal care experts, people from sanctuaries, zoos, animal welfare advocates and scientists. You see Zoos Matter is a cooperative, we do not have or follow one leader. We work cooperatively to research evaluate and analyse information. We have members who submit Freedom of Information requests, members who scour social media for information members, who scour the net for news stories and we have more who collect research papers facts and data and we have members who write blog posts. We don’t take money from people, we do this voluntarily and we are part of a growing coalition and opposition to animal rights propaganda which takes advantage of YOUR media illiteracy. You want names? Well that would be ludicrous now wouldn’t it? No one needs to be harassed by angry animal rights members. And yes that is what they do, harass you and try to intimidate you to shut up, to stop posting a differing opinions than their own or challenging their belief systems, the intolerance is astronomical. We are Zoos Matter, we and we work together for a common goal, the truth. We don’t care what you call us because we have news for you, we are adults and we surpassed the insecurity caused by ignorant bullies a very long time ago and these constant insults in lieu of intellect are less than juvenile, they are infantile. Our rational and truth based approach has the power to open minds and we are committed to this endeavour for as long as it takes for the truth to be known. The reputations of large corporate animal rights groups are dropping like flies out there, finally after years of dominating the media without vocal opposition the tide is changing. HSUS being exposed for misappropriation and misrepresentation of their donations, PETA for their extremists ties and general stupidity and hypocrisy and now Feld Entertainment (Ringling Brothers) is going to bring down more of them including Animal Protection Institute (Born Free USA) ASPCA and others. Their recent legal request for donors lists if accepted by the courts could be the final straw fr these organizations, that is of course of a $25 million payout doesn’t break them first. These animal rights groups are seeking a protection order, you can review the legal documents here. The exposure of these donors will be very telling indeed and we hope the courts comply with Feld’s request as it is a RICO case it is important to know where the money flows.

We have multiple FOI request in currently and will post the results as they come in. We will continue to follow PAWS and the Toronto Zoo 3 and challenge the lies which are being spread about the Toronto Zoo and the care they gave these elephants prior to transfer to PAWS. We will not allow PAWS or Zoocheck to blame the zoo for the current health condition of these elephants in an effort to alleviate responsibility and to exploit our elephants for their anti zoo causes nor will we allow their supporters to do the same. Responsibility for what you ask? For forcing a 71hr road transport which was deemed by multiple zoological experts to be inhumane and a threat to the elephants health and well being, and it appears their concerns were not unfounded.

2013-03-18 23.48.58PAWS is claiming the Tzoo3 have low vitamin E. This is in fact common amongst captive elephants and I dare PAWS to post their own elephants vitamin E reports. The Toronto Zoo elephants were given supplements for Vitamin E for years and received injections prior to transport, their Vitamin levels were and are public record and PAWS and Zoocheck had this information long before road transport  became what they claim was their only option. You see low vitamin E can contribute to white muscle diseases in transport, and it can also be mistaken for Capture Myopathy, a muscle exertion disease which can happen as a result of trauma due to transport. It is not surprising PAWS made this public statement as the Toronto Elephants are not looking well, in particular Thika the youngest elephant. We predicted they would look for something they could blame as an underlying cause for their condition, something they could use to throw back blame on to the zoo and deflect from the possibility that TRANSPORT caused their current state of health. Thika seems to have suffered the most and PAWS supporters seem to think this condition, her gaunt dehydrated appearance was her condition prior to transport. Of course just as these same activists cannot FOI the same documents we have in the past to prove we have not doctored a thing cannot also simply search pictures of the girls prior to transport and see that they were healthy robust elephants, not the withering elephants they are today.

But let’s get to the point of logic. We know this is a tough area for many PAWS supporters, logic and rational thinking so bear with us if the statement is oversimplified.

If the Toronto Zoo 3 were suffering from Vitamin E deficiency to a point that their health could be compromised during the inhumane long transport which was opposed by the Toronto Zoo vets and 5 vets from CFIA why then did the Oakland Zoo vets hired by PAWS to override the Tzoo vets sign on their health certificates for transport? They reviewed the elephant’s medical histories and they approved their health for transport. It was PAWS and Zoocheck who said it was ok to transport the girls 70hrs by truck despite their claims now that a vitamin deficiency is the cause of their current condition. But they took the risk anyway and now wish to blame the zoo? Or captivity in general we suppose. The zoo said NO. The zoo told all of you this was a risk and all of you chose to ignore these concerns convinced by propaganda that these vets were acting on behalf of the AZA or CAZA and not based on their professional ethics and concern for these animals,  because as we know only you and sanctuaries truly care about animals. But you didn’t care, all of you ignored the rational science based facts which evidence and supported the concerns about long distance road transport. All of you allowed Bob Barker to renege on his promise of air transport. Once again you were convinced it was the zoo’s fault somehow that air transport was not possible. Of course recently Mila from New Zealand was transported by air in the same plane and same modified crate designs which Zoocheck and PAWS rejected for the Toronto Zoo elephants and still you allow this without question, without scrutiny. If they had been flown would these elephants have suffered as they did over 71hrs on the road? If PAWS and Zoocheck were aware of the elephant’s health conditions literally years prior to transport and the Oakland vets reviewed current and past health records just weeks and days prior why on earth did they approve this transport knowing full well there was a health risk? Are they so arrogant that they think they can do no harm? If they are this arrogant it is because YOU the blind faith supporter never question, all you do is follow orders. Did Vitamin E deficiency contribute to capture myopathy in the Toronto Zoo elephants or did transport alone, 71hrs on the road and 84hrs in crates cause this? Either way, either or the Toronto Zoo vets opposed the road transport. They never faltered from their professional ethics.

If you truly care about animals then think for yourself and ask questions. Why did these organizations force this transfer by road knowing full well the medical risks involved?

And to those who believe they have pinpointed who each and everyone of us is, we are everywhere and we are everyone. And NO we will not approve your asinine commentary such as “you are liars” or “you will burn in hell”, if you have an intelligent fact based comment to make then make it otherwise take your commentary to one of the many groups you are a member of and continue to live in the dark, we are the light.

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