Zoo Association Tries to Punish Toronto for Humane Decision
The Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) is miffed about the Toronto Zoo and the Toronto City Council making the wise and humane decision to send their three elephants, Thika, Iringa and Toka, to a sanctuary in California. So the AZA has retaliated by pulling the accreditation of the Toronto Zoo.
What’s their rationale? Very simply, the sanctuary where the elephants are going isn’t a zoo, and the therefore the AZA doesn’t control it and refuses to recognize it. The Performing Animals Welfare Society (PAWS) sanctuary, near Sacramento, is among the world’s top elephant sanctuaries – and, indeed, a far better way for people to see elephants than going to a zoo.
But the AZA, for political reasons, doesn’t want people seeing zoo animals going anywhere that isn’t a zoo, anywhere that the AZA can’t control, and anywhere that might give the impression that there are better places for animals than zoos.
Councilor Michelle Berardinetti, who led the motion at the Toronto city council calling for the move to PAWS, said: “The reality is what we’re seeing here is the bully (the AZA) that’s trying to tell us what to do, and tell the taxpayers and residents of Toronto what to do, with our elephants. The other issue is why are they doing it right now? They just happen to be doing it when we’re getting ready to move the elephants.”
The AZA has admitted that its decision to punish the Toronto Zoo has nothing to do with the care of the animals, and that it is, rather, a “management” decision.
A staff report to the zoo board last year warned that, without proper certification, the Toronto Zoo would be unable to maintain its animal collection, since zoos regularly lend animals to each other under a program managed by the AZA. But zoo chief executive officer John Tracogna said it will be “business as usual” for most of the zoo’s activities.
“Toronto Zoo has an excellent reputation,” Berardinetti added. “It is an excellent facility and it does not have to rely on foreign accreditation.”
Canada’s CBC radio talked with city Councilor Glenn De Baeremaeker, who sits on the zoo council. De Baeremaeker poured scorn on the AZA’s decision, saying that moving the elephants was the right and humane thing to do. He added that, rather than trying to hurt the Toronto Zoo, the AZA should look to its own policies, which include supporting the cruel use of bullhooks to control elephants.
Listen to his comments in this audio clip:
Posted April 23, 2012, by Michael Mountain
You keep touting "It has been proven..." Where is your proof? Where are the documents you so staunchly defend? Everything you state here is only your opinion. So go for I say, keep creating an angle to defend the zoo and city council, even if it sounds fabricated.
It has been proven that the sanctuary lied about tuberculosis infected elephants. It is not rumour or heresay there is documented proof despite what some newspapers selectively choose to report. Would you send you pet to kennel who lied about having parvo? Or would you send your child to a daycare that may or may not have west nile just so you can save a few bucks? No you wouldnt. the AZA got wind of the city councils plans to knowingly send the elephants to a place that had tuberculosis and felt that the politicians were thinking about money not the welfare of these animals. this was not zoo staff who outed the TB it was citizens like myself after hundreds of hours of research. The disease prevention protocols at PAWS failed, an animal was infected without their knowledge, it infected other elephants. that is the best reason for the zoo to now say no to PAWS, they were lied to by the sanctuary and the councillors involved. Kudos to the AZA for standing up to this. Animal welfare activists are defending their ideologies at the expense of the actual elephants because you either dont know the whole truth or you choose not to believe the truth. facts are facts. Council clearly stated that no facility with Tuberculosis would be considered. PAWS was actively treating elephants for TB during the time that council was making their decision so the entire deal was made on a false pretence. That was wrong and that was PAWS fault and no one else. Most certainly the keepers are not the bad guys in all of this as hard as it is for some to challenge their belief systems PAWS was dishonest and for 6 months now to protect that dishonesty they have refused to send the zoo the medical documents (public record in zoo BOM minutes) required by the zoo to confirm or deny the TB. Just because they rescue elephants doesnt mean they dont have an agenda of their own.
I applaud Mr. Tracogna and the rest of the zoo and city officials that stood up to the AZA. Bravo for putting these gentle giants first.
As someone who has advocated for animals, particularly elephants, welfare for many years, I can tell you that it has been my experience that The Association of Zoos and Aquariums is made up of a bunch of poorly educated, money grubbing mongers, whose bottom line is to make money and not the welfare of animals. The association is primarily made up of ex-circus performers and zoo keepers.
Any group or club can obtain the license to certify other groups and organizations. All that it means is they are able to say, 'Yes, this is a legitimate zoo, because we have seen their permits and licenses.' Certification is another fancy word for saying that you have researched and have concluded that "it" or "they" are legitimate.
I am a professional medical assistant, I am certified, does that mean I couldn't work if I wasn't certified, NO. It just means I PAID a company in Chicago to call my school to verify that I passed all my classes and exams. I could still work without it. It just insures my perspective employer that I am who I say I am. So can the zoo continue to function just fine without the AZA, absolutely. The AZA gets thousands and thousands of dollars per year from other institutions that don't need to be acknowledged by the AZA to operate. In a word, it's a racket.
Hope I made that clear for anyone who was confused.