Earlier this month, the Toronto Zoo decided to send their elephants somewhere else. This was welcome news, considering that the Toronto Zoo’s elephant exhibit is less than one hectare. The Toronto Zoo also decided, that, although it wouldn’t be their first choice, they would consider sending the elephants to a sanctuary if an AZA accredited zoo wasn’t available. However, the Toronto Zoo is considering sending the elephants to the Granby Zoo near Montreal, according to a Toronto Star article published a few weeks ago. That would completely defeat the purpose of sending the elephants to a warmer climate. While the Granby zoo exhibit, according to the Star, is bigger, with a swimming pool (which Toronto does not have), that still doesn’t address the climate issue. The Granby Zoo does have a geothermal heated barn, with a sand patio, but that still does not compare with the space that elephants get in a sanctuary.
Granby Zoo, along with Toronto Zoo, is one of only five Canadian zoos with an AZA accreditation. I am not sure how Granby received accreditation with only two elephants, when the minimum amount allowed by AZA is three. Either Granby Zoo is planning on getting more elephants, which isn’t the best idea in a Canadian climate, or the three elephant minimum is only an AZA guideline, which would make AZA accreditation somewhat of a joke. Elephants are very social herd animals, so they get lonely with only one or two elephants in an enclosure.
Like Bob Barker, I feel that captive elephants should live in large enclosures that resemble their natural habitat as closely as possible. From what I have read, the only Canadian zoo that may even come close to that is the African Lion Safari in Cambridge, Ontario, with a 300 hectare summer enclosure that they can venture into on warmer winter days. However, the best places for elephants are obviously in places with warmer climates.
I would like people to continue to contact the Toronto Zoo, (and the Edmonton Valley Zoo) to move their elephants to warm sanctuaries down south. I would encourage people to do the same for all the elephants living in small exhibits in cold climates.