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?
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.
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.
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
• 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
• 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.
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.
“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
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.