Thursday, April 19, 2012

Toronto Zoo Loses AZA Accreditation, Life Goes On

Toronto's been abuzz with the recent news regarding the Toronto Zoo's loss of AZA Accreditation, as announced yesterday. Unsurprisingly, the development has been accompanied by confusion, with some people even thinking it means the zoo's shutting down. That is simply untrue. So why did it happen and what does it mean?

First thing you need to know: it was a political thing. Like all politics, it means something, and it doesn't.

The loss of accreditation has nothing to do with the way the Toronto Zoo cares for its animals. The issue the AZA has is that the zoo does not hold complete control over its own animals, and that is against AZA standards. Rightly so! The governance issue stems directly from the whole elephant debacle.

Three African elephants are leaving the Toronto Zoo, and the AZA requested for them to be transferred to another AZA accredited institution in a more suitable climate. The zoo agreed to comply with the AZA's request. City council, however, overruled that decision, and voted to send them to an unaccredited sanctuary called PAWS—a decision the zoo was not happy about. PAWS is heavily supported by Bob Barker, who had been pushing for the elephants to leave Toronto from the start, and incidentally also offered to fund their move to the sanctuary.

City council must have liked the idea of saving tax payers some money and went with his idea, instead of the zoo's. Oops!

Now, I don't believe anybody meant any harm, and those who voted probably thought they were doing a good thing by choosing a sanctuary as the elephants' new home. But the fact remains that people who are not animal experts had (and still have) the power to overrule the experts, and make executive decisions that directly affect the livelihood of animals they know little about. Something doesn't add up there.

I appreciate that it's a complex issue. Right now everyone seems to be taking it in a bad light, but I think it could be a blessing in disguise. Truthfully, nothing will change in the zoo's day-to-day operations.  Losing AZA accreditation may have been just the thing the Toronto Zoo needed to finally sort out its "governance issues." At any rate, it'll have to address these issues, like it or not, if it wants to get re-accredited in 2013.

Leaving executive animal decisions in the hands of animal experts? It's crazy, but it just might work!


ellespot said...
because PAWS sanctuary has tuberculosis. This issue has been presented to zoo broad and zoo for the last 4 months to no avail, its a cover up. These emails listed at the blog link above came out two says before AZA made its decision public. The AZA is fully aware of the TB issue and that City Hall planned to send the elephants anyway. PAWS has refused to send the medical documents as per their legal agreement with the city, the documents that could confirm or deny TB. WHY? because they had a TB outbreak and death last year and dont want it made public for fear of losing out on other zoo elephants obviously. Want more information feel free to contact me. We have been trying to stop this transfer because of the tuberculosis but the media fears liable if they report and city councillors dont care they just want to unload these animals at the most minimal cost to the city.
we also have evidence and research but it isnt really needed the emails speak for themselves, PAWS has TB and someone either the sanctuary or city council or both lied to the people of Toronto by not sharing this with us.

Post a Comment