RCAF asked to fly three Toronto Zoo elephants to California
There's no firm answer yet on whether the Royal Canadian Air Force will fly 3 elephants from the Toronto Zoo to their new home at a California sanctuary.
Zoocheck Canada met with representatives of the zoo, the Air Force & the city manager's office Thursday to talk about that possibility.
Julie Woodyer with Zoocheck says she asked the RCAF for their help because there are no fully pressurized commercial planes large enough to carry the animals in their crates. But the Air Force's C17 jets could be up to the task.
It will be up to Defence Minister Peter MacKay to decide if the Air Force helps out. PAWS Sanctuary has full responsibility for the transportation plans for the elephants, they are being represented by Zoocheck.
Zoo board member councillor Gloria Lindsay Luby doesn't think the Air Force should be part of the equation saying "I would think that our Air Force has better things to do with their planes." Lindsay Luby doesn't think government resources should be used, even if the cost of the trip is reimbursed.
Long time Price is Right host & animal activist Bob Barker has volunteered to pay for the elephants' trip. The Toronto Zoo said Thursday that he's still on board & "committed to providing the financial resources to cover the full costs of the transport".
Zoo board member councillor Glenn De Baeremaeker doesn't understand Lindsay Luby's problem if taxpayers will be paid back. "The Canadian Air Force has big planes and those are big elephants. It's a perfect marriage to me", said De Baeremaeker.
He also brushed off concerns about cases of tuberculosis among elephants that call PAWS home. Baeremaeker calls the San Andreas sanctuary the best in North America & elephant experts around the globe have endorsed council's move to transfer pachyderms there.
The Toronto Zoo hopes to move the elephants to PAWS sometime this year. De Baeremaeker wouldn't be surprised to see them in their new home by early June.
(With files from The Canadian Press)