Bob Barker blasts Toronto Zoo for not sending elephants sooner
Published Monday, October 21, 2013 10:21AM EDT
Last Updated Monday, October 21, 2013 1:43PM EDT
Former TV game show host and animal rights activist Bob Barker had some harsh words for the Toronto Zoo on Monday, one day after the zoo's three former elephants arrived at their new home in California.
Barker -- who petitioned for years to send Toka, Thika and Iringa to the U.S. -- says it was "disgusting" that the aging pachyderms weren't relocated sooner.
"(Zoo staff members) are supposed to be taking care of animals and protecting them. If they had cared anything about the elephants and their health, they would have gotten them out of there a long time ago," Barker told reporters.
The trio of elephants arrived at their new home at the Performing Animals Welfare Society sanctuary in San Andreas, Calif., around 8:30 p.m. ET on Sunday after a 70-hour road trip.
Zookeepers from the Toronto Zoo accompanied the elephants during the trip. The animals travelled in two-by-four metre steel crates and multiple stops were made on the way to feed, water and clean them.
A statement from the Toronto Zoo said all three elephants "travelled extremely well, ate quite regularly and were very calm during the trip."
Toronto Zoo spokesperson Jennifer Tracey said Monday that the fact that they elephants travelled so well during the gruelling trip is a testament to how well the animals were cared for.
"I think Mr. Barker needs to understand that at the Toronto Zoo, we have researchers, we have nutritionists, we have scientists, zookeepers, veterinarians. Everybody there is so committed to ensuring the safety and welfare of all the animals on site," Tracey told CTV Toronto.
"So it is very disheartening to hear those comments from him."
Toronto city council voted in 2011 to send the elephants to the PAWS sanctuary after animal rights' advocates raised concerns over the well-being of the aging pachyderms.
Toka, Thika and Iringa are joining eight other elephants at the California sanctuary. A representative from Zoo Check Canada, a national animal protection group, says the introduction of the elephants went well.
With a report from CTV Toronto's Zuraidah Alman