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Delay at start of Toronto Zoo Elephant transport

Of course this will be a controversy, whose fault was it?
Lets review what we know shall we.
Zoocheck and PAWS were responsible for organizing the move. It would be on their orders when the elephants would be crated. This happened at about 8am despite the fact that Zoocheck and Active Environments( the transport company) knew there was to be a CFIA inspection at 8:30am. What was the rush Zoocheck? A responsible transporter would wait until the inspection was complete before crating the animals.Knowing they had been given several compliances by CFIA which needed to be met before being allowed to transport you would think common sense would dictate and they would wait for the CFIA officials to arrive. The zoo staff were to train the elephants to go into their crates and to load them when ordered to, the orders would come from those legally contracted to handle the move, Zoocheck and Active Environments.

The trucks transporting the elephants did not arrive on site at the elephant house until the afternoon. We know because we were there.
Why load the elephants at 8am if the trucks were not even on site yet?
As far as we know there was an issue with CFIA which is a Federal Government Agency, their inspection was scheduled. It was not the zoo staff or vets which caused the delays. Zoocheck had already brought in outside vets to override the Toronto vets to sign off on health certificates for transport. The Toronto Zoo vets were not comfortable with the health of an elephant on such a long transport. We know Zoocheck has claimed it would take just 50hrs with stops but we also know now that at this time, 7:45pm on October 20th, 2013 the elephants have been in their crates for just over 80hrs with over 67hrs of road time.

The zoo did not cause a delay, they would not risk more time in the crates for these elephants they are the ones who felt road transport over 4200km was inhumane remember? People are so quick to blame the zoo based on their personal anti zoo beliefs. Perhaps people thought they could leave before CFIA arrived? I mean if you are going to have such nefarious thoughts then at least be fair and consider motive for both parties involved. PAWS had their annual fundraising event, The Grape Stomp on Saturday October 19, 2013. If they had left at 9am from the zoo there would have been a grande entrance of the three Toronto girls right in the middle of the event.

The CBC’s 5th Estate claims they will prove it was the zoo’s fault. Well why dont we first find out what the delay actually was about before hurling accusations. Based on the biased anti zoo documentary they just did and the fact that this program has an exclusive legal contract with PAWS to film the move how much freedom or even desire do you think they have to portray this move and the events surrounding it impartially?

We have evidence of our own. And once we know our elephants are safely off the crates we will put together some information of our which shows how Zoocheck and Active Environments bungled this whole transport and made mistakes which added hours of extra time on to this move. Even without the 10hrs delay the elephants would have been in the crates for 70hrs with 57hrs of road time and counting because they still have not arrived. Perhaps if Zoocheck had hired a transportation company which had actually transported animals before it would have taken less time? Or maybe if they had actually gone to the right port of entry into the USA, the one where animals being transported are inspected? That might have saved some time. Did you really think it took 7hrs to get from Toronto to Sarnia? With a full police escort? Ah yes but as always there is so much more to this than meets the eye.
All in due time my friends, all in due time.
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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

Toronto Zoo Elephant transport plan FOI request DENIED by City of Toronto

Citing various odd reasons, one being security issues the request through Freedom of Information Laws was denied. Even stranger is the wording in the response from the clerks office at Toronto City Hall.

Citizen request via FOI for Transport plans of Toronto Zoo elephants denied

Citizen request via FOI for Transport plans of Toronto Zoo elephants denied

The last paragraph, section 11 (e) in particular caught our attention. The first reason cited, 8 (1)(i) security could have been handled by redacting specific dates, times etc. However a route plan, duration of trip and stops should have been released so as to determine whether the plan is in accordance with the humane laws which govern animal transport both in Canada and the USA. As the Toronto Zoo elephants are still legally and technically owned by the City of Toronto the people of Toronto, citizens have a legal right to review the plan so as to take whatever action they might see fit in accordance to their civil rights if in fact any, part or all of the transport plan Could be in contravention of Provincial and/or Federal laws.

Section 11(e) reads: relates to positions, plans, procedures, criteria or instructions to be applied to any negotiations carried on or to be carried on by or on behalf of an institution;

Section 11(g) reads: relates to information including proposed plans, policies or projects of an institution if the disclosure could reasonably be expected to result in premature disclosure of a pending policy decision or undue financial benefit or loss to a person.

What pending policy decision?

What negotiations?

The zoo and Zoocheck announced in September that ALL the permits were in and that the elephants would be leaving mid to late October. What would be left to negotiate if this were the case?

The transport plan is legally PAWS property and transport is Zoocheck’s responsibility so I guess they have some say in whether it is made public.

But!

Until the trucks leave Toronto Zoo property the Toronto Zoo elephants are   technically still the legal property of the city of Toronto. One would think citizens would have a legal right to review the plans to determine whether or not it is in contravention of any laws regarding the humane transport of animals. Our supporting evidence for this concern would be the effort by Toronto Council and Zoocheck to force the air transport in August of 2012 knowing full well that the plane’s low pressurized cargo hold was in fact in direct violation of IATA laws governing the humane air transport of live animals.

 

Toronto Zoo Elephants Death by Dogma?

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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:

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

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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.

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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:

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Will this be the fate of Toronto Zoo elephants?

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Will Toronto City Council be held accountable if this happens?

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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 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.