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May 10, 2011 / V A Nichols

Has the time finally come for elephant exhibits without elephants?

Will Toronto get the first elephant exhibit without elephants? PDF Print E-mail
Monday, 09 May 2011 00:00
We ( are following with substantial interest and excitement the current discussion in Toronto where, on 12th May, the Toronto Zoo Board will decide whether the city’s Zoo should phase out their elephants. We’re encouraged to read in a recent report that the Toronto Zoo staff are recommending that the zoo should let their three aging African elephants, Iringa, Thika and Toka, go. And, we are willing to contribute our expertise and our elephant sound recordings from our collection to Toronto Zoo if they decide to build a new elephant exhibit withoutelephants!ElephantVoices will support any high-tech, interactive, science-based elephant exhibit without elephants, and for many years we have hoped that a progressive zoo will grab the opportunity of being the first one out. We’re convinced that such an exhibit will educate visitors about elephants, their behavior, their complex communication, their interests and the threats to their survival in the wild in a way that is dynamic and stimulating. We also believe that most of today’s zoo visitors understand why elephants should not be confined in an urban zoo, and this should be even easier for people to grasp considering Toronto’s cold climate. Toronto Zoo will gain respect and increased interest by such a move, rather than the opposite.

On 6th May in Toronto’s, City Councillor and Toronto Zoo Board Member, Glenn De Baeremaeker, is quoted saying: “Overall I’m very pleased with the report”. And, “It’s cold in Toronto especially in January… You have a moral responsibility to the animals you shipped into this country to take care of them. And they’re currently in a space that is grotesquely too small.” We are in complete agreement that Toronto is no place for elephants. Without going further into the discussion about Iringa, Thika and Toka’s living conditions, we think the Zoo staff’s report and De Baeremaeker’s statement leaves no doubt. That amazingly generous animal advocate, Bob Barker, has offered to help in covering the costs of moving the three elephants, should contribute to persuading the Board to do the only right thing for Iringa, Thika and Toka.

ElephantVoices has argued for the need for elephant exhibits without elephants for many years, and we strongly support the Elephant Learning Centre initiative proposed by Zoocheck Canada. Their inspiring slideshow presentation of this concept (linked from slide below, you need Google account to look through) will inspire anyone who is looking into the possibility of creating a highly educational and crowd-pleasing elephant exhibit. We know that there are many others thinking in this direction. Right now Toronto Zoo has a unique opportunity to do the right thing for their own AND other elephants – we urge them to follow their staff’s recommendation. Let the elephants go, Toronto Zoo! Give Iringa, Thika and Toka a better life and Toronto Zoo a better elephant exhibit!

Elephant Learning Centre Proposal - front slideshow


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