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Toronto zoo elephants headed to California by end of the year

Toronto city council has voted to transfer the Toronto Zoo's three remaining elephants to a sanctuary in California before the end of the year.
Toronto city council has decided that the three elephants at the Toronto Zoo will be moved to California by the end of the year. (Grahm S. Jones/Associated Press)

Toronto city council has voted to transfer the Toronto Zoo's three remaining elephants to a sanctuary in California before the end of the year.

A motion accepted on Tuesday night calls for Iringa, Toka and Thika to be transferred to the Performing Welfare Society sanctuary in San Andreas on or before Dec. 31.

All funding for the move is to be paid by PAWS, despite concerns raised by Toronto Zoo officials about tuberculosis at the California facility.

Council said it accepted an independent infectious disease report from Dr. Susan Cork which found that PAWS is a safe facility and meets the requirements of the due diligence process.

The motion also calls on Edmonton to take immediate action to move their 37-year-old Asian elephant Lucy to a warmer climate as soon as possible.

Toronto City Council voted last fall to send the elephants to the U.S. facility after groups voiced concern about the animals' welfare and animal activist Bob Barker promised to pay for a plane to fly the elephants to their new home.