Where is Thika?
Remember Thika? The youngest elephant from the Toronto Zoo Thika is 34yrs old and was born in Toronto. The first African elephant born in captivity in North America. She rode solo on her trek across country to PAWS while her older herd mates Toka and Iringa share another truck.
As Toka and Iringa arrived at PAWS we were told Thika’s truck had broken down with over heated brakes. Something which can easily happen traversing the Donner Pass with such a heavy load but more likely to happen if someone is speeding. And ever more likely again if someone who has no experience transporting animals let alone an elephant is doing the driving. Yes this is correct, the company hired by Zoocheck and Active Environments to drive this precious cargo on an inhumane 70hrs road trip (84hrs in the crates) not only had never transported animals before but was not even legally licensed or registered to do so. One has to wonder how they crossed the border into the United States without this required licensing?
So Thika, alone in her crate, on the side of the road likely scared from the noise of the breakdown and the smoke, surely someone will stay with her to ensure she is ok? By all accounts according to the CBC’s Fifth Estate we love PAWS documentary about the transport it appears no one did. After three or more years of claiming undying love and caring for the welfare of these animals you would think either Julie Woodyer of Zoocheck Canada or its founder Rob Laidlaw would stay? Or someone from the Active Environment’s transport team. No, the answer is no and we have yet to determine if one of the vets remained back with her however we are investigating this. Instead the others raced ahead to ensure they were on site at Ark2000 to have their victorious moment of glory documented on film by the CBC film crew and news media.
Of course an actual expert in elephant transport would have advised that someone stay behind, surely they did not leave Thika with a bunch of truck drivers? But then again an actual expert in the transport of elephants would not have made this ridiculous trek in the first place. Her Toronto Zoo team had to be on hand for the unloading of Toka and Iringa, so Thika the youngest who has never travelled or known any other life than the one she had at Toronto Zoo and the one likely with the least coping skills is left behind, alone, without the comforting sounds of her herd mates, without the familiar faces she trusts, her Toronto Zoo keepers. It is no wonder she refused to come out of her crate when she arrived, that it took Toronto Zoo keepers more than an hour to coax her out. Now we have not seen a picture or a video of her since the one and only pic was posted by PAWS on October 24, 2013.
They claim, after a great deal of pressure and concern from both PAWS supporters and Zoo supporters that they have been too busy? Their supporters now claim that PAWS has no obligation to share anything with anyone? No they do not, legally. But morally they do. According to Zoocheck’s biased poll conducted back in 2011 almost 75% of Torontonians supported the move to PAWS. So PAWS would deny the people of Toronto who love these elephants the opportunity to know they are safe and well simply because of their animosities towards the zoo or the people who opposed the move? I guess one could argue that legally they do have a responsibility to prove that the inhumane transport plan which was opposed by the zoo and by 10+ veterinary and animal welfare experts DID NOT cause physical harm or damage to the elephants. We have already seen Toka walking with a new pronounced limp she never had before at the Toronto Zoo and Iringa’s gait was painful to watch, she was struggling. But for the youngest and healthiest elephant to have been affected by this transport experience is another story altogether. 4200km Cross country, 70hrs by an inexperienced trucking company coordinated by a transport organization with less experience than they claimed was cruel and unnecessary and we hope one of OUR Toronto elephants does not have to prove this with their life. The truck was driving TOO FAST, we know this. Why? They were being pressured to; to make sure the “team” could be on site in time for a Bob Barker presser.
So much for animal welfare. Now we are into the fifth day, and nothing. Just a post from PAWS telling us they are too busy and PAWS supporters telling us it is none of our business. Oh, it is our business trust me and we will go out of our way to make it our business until the truth about this unethical transfer and inhumane transport has been shared with the world and justice for Iringa, Toka and Thika is achieved. This whole fiasco has been nothing more than an exercise is arrogance and a false façade that this is more about animal welfare than it is about the big agenda, the anti zoo movement.