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The Toronto’s Zoo’s plan to place three aging African elephants chained in crates and ship them by truck to California is neither safe nor humane, the President of Local 1600 of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE 1600) said today. 

Christine McKenzie, CUPE Local 1600 President, was responding to the Toronto Zoo’s announcement today that Iringa, Toka and Thika will be moved overland to the Performing Animals Welfare Society (PAWS) sanctuary in California on October 11. 

The employees of the Toronto Zoo, members of CUPE 1600, are very concerned for the welfare of the three African elephants,” said McKenzie. 

The current land transport plan is expected to be four-to-five days, with the elephants being chained in crates, standing in their own feces and urine for the entire journey. How is this safe and humane?” she asked. 

In 2011, Toronto City Council tasked Zoo management with the ‘primary responsibility for the safe and humane transport of the elephants’ to PAWS’ sanctuary in California. 

PAWS and the Zoo agreed air transport was preferable, but have opted to put the elephants at greater risk against the recommendations of many animal care staff at the Zoo and outside-animal-care and ethics experts. 

At every step of the way, what is best for these animals ought to have been the most important consideration. Sadly, today’s announcement is the latest in a long list of moments where Toka, Iringa and Thika’s well-being has taken a back seat to other priorities,” said McKenzie. 

The union continues to urge the Zoo and PAWS to abandon the land transportation plan and take the steps necessary to safely transport the elephants by air. 

For more information, please contact:

Christine McKenzie
CUPE 1600 President

Kevin Wilson
CUPE Communications