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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
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.
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
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?
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
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.
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!
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 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.
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
Zoo Board email address. Your concerns will be made public record
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!
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
We sent City Council members, the Mayor, the City Manager, the Zoo Board and the Zoo CEO an email on September 3, 2013 outlining our intention to file complaints with various government agencies, on both the issue of tuberculosis as a risk to the Toronto Zoo elephants at council’s destination of choice and regarding the inhumane road transport plan. Of course we did not receive a single reply.
Here are some excerpts:
The proposed transport plan by air or by truck can be argued as such:
Duration of Transport
The Canadian Federation of Humane Societies does not recommend transportation longer than 52 hours for farm animals so the 4 1/2 day land transport plan mentioned by PAWS’ legal counsel (evidenced in City of Toronto FOIA) is in direct contravention of what is cited in the Federal Health of Animals Act. Exceeding the duration of recommended transport times by the Canadian Federation of Humane Societies qualifies as putting an animal in “distress
Which is where CEO John Tracogna and City Councillors are in contravention. This is where their liability comes in. (Through the Ontario Animal Welfare Act 11.2)
*the proposed 50hrs by Zoocheck is to avoid scrutiny under this 52 hour recommendation”
Air Transport in Original Proposal vs. Road Transport in New Proposal
City Council agreed to Air Transport which is a different proposition from Road Transport. Hence, the manner in which the animals are being transported currently is an issue; animal welfare concerns are very different for each mode of transport and City Council should reconvene to discuss this issue, to see if they are in contravention of Animal Welfare Laws or recommendations on what would constitute humane transport. There should be public deputations and experts allowed for both sides of this issue, not just videotaped deputations and reports from PAWS and Zoocheck’s own paid veterinary and professional advocates.
Given the duration of the proposed transfer move (4.5 days) or even 50+hrs, we cannot see how it is feasible. If the elephants are sedated, that constitutes a serious risk to their welfare and animal welfare laws and CITES rule that they cannot be sedated. However a DVM can attest to the fact that sedation may be necessary if the transportation is of the suggested duration and therefore apply for this variance in the law. If this is done it can be challenged under the law as inhumane and putting an animal at risk and under duress. The key to this argument is that the duration of the move (identified by the PAWS lawyers in their e-mail FOIA) would constitute inhumane transport and could lead to severe distress. This is being supported currently by multiple animal welfare and elephant experts.
The references, of course, would be:
Correspondence between PAWS lawyers and Canadian Air Force where they indicate that transport would be 4 1/2 days versus the 2 days proposed in City Council https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B5WlBT7uQTbwU1dhcW02a3NFYjg/edit
Recommendations by the Canadian Federation of Humane Societies on what is acceptable duration of transport for Farm Animals based on Canadian Federal Health of Animals regulations (page 13) http://www.nfacc.ca/pdfs/codes/Transportation%20Code%20of%20Practice.pdf
Canadian Federal Health of Animals Act, Subsection 64 (i) for the humane treatment of animals and generally (i) governing the care, handling and disposition of animals, (ii) governing the manner in which animals are transported within, into or out of Canada, and (iii) providing for the treatment or disposal of animals that are not cared for, handled or transported in a humane manner;
Ontario Animal Welfare Act: Prohibitions re distress, harm to an animal Causing distress 11.2 (1) No person shall cause an animal to be in distress. Permitting distress (2) No owner or custodian of an animal shall permit the animal to be in distress. http://www.e-laws.gov.on.ca/html/source/statutes/english/2008/elaws_src_s08016_e.htm
The we also included our concerns over the misrepresentation of commmisioned disease reports and concealment of disease and the corresponding various Federal and Provincial violations blah blah blah. But that can be addressed another day.
Canadian Food Inspection Agency
One of the original letters of complaint we sent was to Minister Gerry Ritz who heads up the Ministry of Agriculture and Agri-Food. We received a generic reply from the Minister on August 28th, 2013. After the initial email was sent to Minister Ritz a request for an investigation of the road transport of the Toronto Zoo Elephants as well as a complaint and request for an investigation of tuberculosis at PAWS was sent to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency. On September 23, 2013 we got this:
The complaints were also forwarded to the appropriate Federal and Provincial agencies and officials which oversee the transport, import and export of animals and animal welfare in CANADA. This response was received on September 23, 2013, just a couple of weeks ago. It would appear the final Federal approvals had not yet been granted for the road transport plan. If this was the case then why did the Toronto zoo, Zoocheck Canada and PAWS officially announce a tentative date for transport? The Toronto Zoo elephants are not going anywhere without those permits and City Council has no authority over the Federal Government.
This press release went out from the zoo on September 18, 3013
Here in a Toronto Star Article Zoocheck Canada’s Julie Woodyer says
“It’s all come together,” Woodyer said. “The stars have finally lined up.”
All necessary permits are in and zoo CEO John Tracogna has approved the transport plan, which will see the elephant trio travel across the continent by truck, according to Woodyer.
Interesting, article dated Tuesday, September 17, 2013. Just 6 days before we received our email from CFIA (which must approve the transport plan) appearing to indicate that no decision had been made yet.
Just makes you go hmmmm? Given Zoocheck’s proven track record of not being able to understand the difference between fact, fiction and blatant BS it is hard to believe anything that comes out of Ms. Woodyer’s mouth these days, if ever.
So we all pitched in to get this opposition some gifts,
A golden shovel award, because no one shovels “it” as good as you do!
A paddle, you know how the saying goes. Up the S*** creek without one and all that…
A hot air balloon…no explanation needed.
And a box of tissues, again, no need to explain
September 26, 2013 11:42 ET
As Zoo Board meets, CUPE 1600 renews call to ‘live up to commitments’ and do ‘what’s best’ for the elephants
TORONTO, ONTARIO–(Marketwired – Sept. 26, 2013) – As the Toronto Zoo Board meets in Scarborough for the last time before three African elephants are chained in crates and driven for 80 hours to California, the union representing their keepers and animal professionals renewed their call for politicians and administrators to live up to their commitments and ‘do what’s best’ for Toka, Thika and Iringa.
“The system has failed these elephants. Politicians and administrators have failed to live up to their responsibilities to put the elephants’ best interests at heart,” said Matthew Berridge, Vice-President of Local 1600 of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE 1600).
In 2011, Toronto City Council, which has ultimate responsibility for the Zoo, voted to move the elephants to the Performing Arts Wildlife Sanctuary (PAWS) in California. An alternative endorsed by zookeepers, animal care professionals and ethicists was deemed too risky for the elephants because it involved a one-and-a-half day ground transport.
“We disagreed with the decision, but said if they are to be moved, the best place is in Florida and the best way is by air,” said Berridge.
“The best professional advice from zookeepers and animal care experts was ignored. These elephants are going to the wrong facility and in the wrong mode,” he added.
“Councillor Berardinetti, who championed sending the elephants to PAWS, specifically cited the fact that the PAWS option would only see the elephants in transport for a few hours, while transporting them by ground to Florida would take a day-and-a-half, while urging her fellow councillors to ‘do what’s best for the elephants,'” said Berridge.
“Can she now explain why she thinks transporting them chained in crates for 80 straight hours over land to PAWS is ‘what’s best for the elephants?'” he added.
The Zoo has announced it will send Toka, Thika and Iringa to PAWS in October on an, as yet, to-be-announced date.
In this clip the Councillor admits she knew about tuberculosis despite having denied it publicy in the media and to council for almost an entire year.
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.
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.
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”.
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
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.
Please review the background Story
80+hrs in a truck is inhumane, it exceeds all laws and regulations both in Canada and the United States for the humane transport of animals. This is an abuse of political power. This is animal abuse in the name of animal rights extremism. These elephants could die in transport.
You can contact:
Hon. Gerry Ritz, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada House of Commons, Ottawa, ON K1A 0A6 Fax: 613-995-7080 Email: Ritz.G@parl.gc.ca
Please send copies to the agriculture critics:
Hon. Wayne Easter, Liberal Agriculture Critic 318 Justice Building, House of Commons, Ottawa, ON K1A 0A6 Fax: 613-995-7408 Email: EasteW@parl.gc.ca
Mr. Alex Atamanenko, NDP Agriculture Critic House of Commons, Ottawa, ON K1A 0A6 Fax: 613-943-0922 Email: AtamaA@parl.gc.ca
Mr. André Bellavance, Bloc Québécois Agriculture Critic House of Commons, Ottawa, ON K1A 0A6 Fax: 613-995-2026 Email: BellaA@parl.gc.ca
Toronto Mayor Ford firstname.lastname@example.org
Toronto Zoo Board email@example.com
Zoo CEO firstname.lastname@example.org
Email Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, email@example.com
(RE: Toronto Zoo Elephants Dear Secretary Vilsack)
There is a documented risk for the Toronto Zoo African elephants
Calle and Tuberculosis
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.
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.
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:
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:
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
Attachment 1 to the report (November 20, 2012) from the Chief Executive Officer,
Toronto Zoo – Due Diligence
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
see attached letters/expert submissions
So after the Dr. Cork report was submitted we analyzed it:
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
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:
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:
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.
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.