Monday, 12 November 2012

Toronto ground zero for battle over future of elephants in zoos

For the past year and a half, a fierce battle has raged over whether three African elephants should stay in their decades-old home at the Toronto Zoo.
But it's a battle that some experts say is now at the centre of a larger North American debate about the future of elephants in zoos.
Watch the fifth estate on Friday at 9 p.m. (9:30 in Newfoundland and Labrador) and join their live chat during the show.
Since the facility opened in 1974, the Toronto Zoo has always had elephants.
Deciding to stop housing the showstopping animals that bring so many visitors through its front gates is no easy decision —and one that's put it at the centre of a larger North American debate about the future of elephants in zoos.
In an interview with CBC's the fifth estate, internationally renowned zoo director and architect David Hancocks thinks that zoos are "on the cusp of a major paradigm shift."
While people have wondered for years whether a zoo can exist without the presence of an elephant, Hancocks suggests a different future. "I suspect as soon as 10 years time we'll probably hear people say, 'How can you call yourself a zoo if you've got an elephant in it?'"
80 acres vs. two
The Toronto Zoo saga began in May, 2011, when the board recommended an end to its elephant program, and that its three remaining female pachyderms — Toka, Thika and Iringa — be moved due to costs and other factors.

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