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December 13, 2011 / V A Nichols

Toronto Zoo staff makes inappropriate Facebook remarks

Back to Toronto zoo chief regrets staff members’ ‘inappropriate’ Facebook remarks

Toronto zoo chief regrets staff members’ ‘inappropriate’ Facebook remarks

December 13, 2011

Linda Diebel


Toronto zoo chief John Tracogna says he regrets “inappropriate remarks” on Facebook by staffers who oppose moving the zoo’s three African elephants to a California sanctuary.

He told a morning press conference at zoo headquarters in Scarborough that he has asked zoo lawyers to draft a policy for using social media to avoid problems in future.

The negative comments, posted on Facebook by zoo staffers and included in a Star report Monday, blasted council and individuals for voting to send Toronto’s elephants to the Performing Animal Welfare Society (PAWS) in San Andreas, California. Nasty remarks were also directed at PAWS director Ed Stewart.

However, Tracogna said relations with the California sanctuary are good and plans to transfer Iringa, Toka and Thika from Toronto to PAWS are going smoothly.

It’s expected the move will come in March or April.

Tracogna said it’s too soon to say if the elephants will travel by air or land.

Councillor Glenn De Baeremaeker, a zoo board member, told the Star he’d love to see an “Operation Jumbo” in which the Canadian military transferred the elephants by cargo plane and the whole country got involved.

The U.S. Air Force flew African elephant Maggie from Alaska to California four years ago, a trip paid by an animal welfare group. PAWS is paying to move the Toronto elephants.

But De Baeremaeker said it’s best to let the people moving the elephants decide what’s best.

The next step in the move, said Tracogna, is next week’s trip by a five-member zoo delegation to tour PAWS’ facilities and confer with staff.

Tracogna said the zoo will provide regular updates on the move, beginning next Thursday.

“The Toronto Zoo staff team continues to work in tandem with the PAWS owners on the safe and humane transfer of the Zoo’s three elephants,” said Tracogna. “The transfer of animals … requires mutual coordination and planning.”


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