Bob Barker is paying to have three elephants flown from the Toronto Zoo to PAWS sanctuary in California because of lack of funds to build an appropriate enclosure for them and the growing concern of Canada’s chilly climate being unsuitable for them.
Bob Barker has agreed to cover the cost of the $880,000 flights for the elephants. Bob Barker already donated $300,000 to PAWS (Performing Animal Welfare Society) to help the organization prepare for the elephants, Thika, Iringa and Toka to arrive in San Andreas, California.
In a telephone interview from California on Friday, Bob Barker said, “I’m very passionate about elephants and all animals. I Love them. These three elephants have suffered so much for so long and now they have an opportunity to live the rest of their lives at what has been described as ‘elephant paradise.'”
The cost for the flight ranges from $520,000 to $880,000 depending on the availability of the large plane. A Russian-built cargo plane has been chosen for the mission, and is due to take place in May or early June.
Ed Stewart, co-director of PAWS said in an interview, “It’s our responsibility to move them, so it’s just us making the arrangements to fly them.”
The PAWS Sanctuary believes that since Iringa has a bad foot problem, it might not survive a truck trip and so the best approach would be to fly the animals to California. So, a plane has been chosen over a transport truck since the zoo has expressed concerns that the three to five days needed to get to PAWS on the road may be too gruelling for the animals. By air it would take about five hours to get them to Sacramento, and then another 90 minutes by truck to PAWS.
“If the Zoo and PAWS veterinarians both agree this is the safest transportation option, we are pleased that it could now also be done at no cost to taxpayers,” said zoo board chair Joe Torzsok.
Stewart said he has already spoken to a company that arranges for the cargo flights, and added he’s also writing a letter to the zoo to find out when it thinks the pachyderms will be ready to fly. A large crate is on site at the Toronto Zoo, and keepers are training the elephants how to enter.
“To think that one of them might not survive the trip in a truck touched my heart and purse strings,” Bob Barker said.