Wednesday, November 9, 2011

From Wayne Jackson

To: ''
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Subject: Toronto Zoo Elephants!
Importance: High

Dear Mayor Ford,

Politicians are needed to run a City, but when it comes to such things as Zoo animals, it should be the professionals at that particular institution that makes the decision on a particular animal, not someone who really knows nothing about the species or particular animal. It shouldn’t be the responsibility of politicians; there are far more important decisions they need to deal with to run the city! By giving in to these animal rights groups, you might as well give them the keys to the Zoo and let them do as they want with all the species! They don’t want Elephants in any Zoo, just in their “SPECIAL SANCTUARIES”, where very few people are allowed to visit, but they can be viewed, “that is what is allowed to be viewed” on the internet! What next, Rhinos, Gorillas, Tigers, Mountain Chickens or Brazilian Giant cockroaches?

Since staff at the zoo has a media gag order in place, I thought I would put forward some things for you to consider! I am retired from the Toronto Zoo, so I cannot be told to not talk to Mayor or the Councillors.

The following are a few things that you and your Councillors may not know:

· Toronto Zoo had the 1st Elephant born in Canada.

· Toronto Zoo had the 4th African elephant born in North America.

· Toronto Zoo had 4 females born between 1980 and 1984

· Toronto Zoo had only one elephant that had arthritis problems that lead to her having to being put down, she was knocked down by our bull, Tantor in the summer of ’82 during his first musth period (a male’s time of insanity, when his testosterone is very high). At that time very few people in North America were aware of African males coming into a musth, similar to Asian males.

· No Toronto Elephants have ever had any foot problems.

· There was only one Keeper ever hurt by an Elephant and he was just trying to break up a dispute between two females, something that had been done with no problem to any Keeper before, including myself! We would just raise our voice to get their attention!

· No Keepers have ever been killed.

· Toronto Zoo had one of the largest Elephant exhibits in North America when it opened in August 1974.

· During the times I worked with these Elephants, they enjoyed their time out during the winter months! Depending on the day, they might be out for an hour or more. When they were young, they enjoyed sliding down the exhibit hill as well as eating the snow and tossing it around!

· A friend of mine contacted me to let me know that a relative lives 10 miles away from the P.A.W.S. facility. It seems to be getting colder and there has been snow the last five years. Last year a snowfall was 2 feet deep. If you use the AZA 40 degrees F rule then there should be a lot of confinement inside a barn at PAWS. Yet the facility is promoted as a warm weather facility! It is not Florida or Southern California!!! It is Northern California. Attached is a weather report from San Andreas.

· In all the years that I have worked at Zoos, especially the Toronto Zoo, no one from outside the Zoo has ever been allowed to come in to crate train an animal. This has always been done in-house, by the area Keepers who know and understand the animals that have been in their care! I remember being told by a former head of the Animals/Keepers at the Toronto Zoo, that the animal remains ‘ours’ until after it leaves the Zoo site!

· I know by listening to all the media reports over the years that you and your predecessors do not like the Premier dictating to you about how things should run in your City! I am quite sure that you and your Councillors would have a big problem if the Premier decided to take something away from the City and give whatever it maybe to an outside organization, whether it is Canadian, but quite possibly American! That would be a slap in both your face and your Councillors’ faces. By taking the side of these two organizations, you have done to the Zoo, what you wouldn’t want done to you!

· I was working at the Toronto Zoo, back in the fall of 1976 when the Director at the time, Dr. Phillip Ogilvie was told by the Mayor to come up with I believe $350,000.00, that the Zoo owed. After putting forth several suggestions to staff, including us working five days a week, but only get paid for four days or he would resign! It was then that the City took total control away from the Zoological Society! The City basically signs the cheques for the staff at the Zoo. The Toronto Zoo was trying to find a A.Z.A. facility for the Elephant, so when council voted to go with a non-accredited facility, the Councillors have sent an extremely loud message to the “Animal Staff” who have donated their life to the care of Exotic animals. And that their love, dedication, knowledge and expertise does not matter. It is a sure slap in the face of these people!

· The following link is a site full of comments and a petition to help save the three Toronto Zoo Elephants from being sent to a sanctuary. The signatures are from concerned people all over the world!

I was employed by the Toronto Zoo on and off from July 10th, 1974 until I retired in February, 2009. I resigned in June of 1977 to spend ten months working in four Zoos in Australia and then ten months on a Keeper Exchange with the Whipsnade Zoo in England. At Toronto, I worked as a Keeper with the Elephants as well as most other areas of the zoo. On my own time (vacation), I have also worked in 18 other zoos and facilities in 9 countries. I also spent 5 ½ years working in the zoo’s public relation/marketing dept. after damaging my arms, from one shovel load too many and was finally told I was no longer needed, because of my disability, but that never stopped me from continuing to help various staff at the Zoo, as well as a wide variety of people in over 26 countries on a daily/weekly basis! In total I have visited 240 Zoos/Aquariums/facilities in 21 countries. Toronto Zoo remains one of my favourite Zoos!

What Zoo will the Animal Rights groups trash next!!??


Anonymous said...

I have a lot of respect for this blog and its opinions, but I get concerned when I see information that is blatantly inaccurate. I speak about the letter re the Toronto Zoo and the paragraph in bold that refers to low temps and snowfall in San Andreas, Calif. As a resident of the state, I am obligated to point out that there is an average snow depth of 0.00 in San Andreas, and the average temperature never falls below 40 degrees (lowest avg. temp is 44.0 in January). This is per the website, which claims the moderate climate makes San Andreas "a pleasant region to live." I know this has become an emotionally charged issue, and it's very understandable why the Toronto keepers would be upset. But skewing facts doesn't help. In fact, maybe it's time to look at this more objectively; it may not be so bad a move for the elephants after all.

Wade G. Burck said...

Thank you for the kind words about the blog. One of the reasons it is respected is because all contributors/experts use their name, not hiding behind anonymity. I wish you would have used yours. Every opinion is valuable, and I have printed yours even though it was anonymous because you raised some valid points.
I am not a weather man and about all I know about weather is it get's colder then a well diggers ass in North Dakota, and if my hair is wet that means it is raining, and if my hair is blowing that means windy. I only posted Wayne's statement as it was sent. But you raised a point about inaccuracies. The vast majority of the American public knows as much about zoo/exotic/circus animals and their husbandry as I do about weather, which is how peta, born free and other animal rights organizations gain a following. Print or state half truths, tell them what they want to hear and make up the rest(Adolf Hitler was a master at the craft.) Folks go along, because that's what they are told. Much as I did with Wayne's statement. I didn't question it. For what do I know about weather, just as for what do the public know about exotic animals.
Actually Toronto Zoo is lucky they are located where they are. All they could play was the "cold card." If they had been located in Florida or Texas they would have called with the "animal abuse" card, as the cold card is a joker down south.
USDA is busy at the moment "verifying" whether newcomers to the business have the "proper hours" of training and experience to be qualified or not, and if so, were they taught by a "qualified" person. Who "verified" that numbnuts Bob Barker on his hours of experience? Who verified Pat Derby/PAWS or Carol Buckley/TEZ on their hours of experience and whether the person who taught them was qualified? Last year a young man was stopped from working after 4 months because he "didn't have the verified learning time." If he had set up a sanctuary and had folks give him animals and money, instead of presenting a tiger act, would he have been assumed "verified and qualified" and thus allowed to continue, business as usual?
The city counsel of Toronto stepped way out of line to authorize the move of the elephants. They were neither "verified or qualified". I fear they were given an ultimatum, as peta and other ar organizations often times give's to a business, "do as we are suggesting or we will get our supporters to boycott your product or make so much heat you will pray we go away" and they caved. In the world of the Costa Nostra it's known as extortion or "strong arming" and it's illegal. In the world of animal rights agenda's it sop and business as usual. I am just grateful those politicians are up in Canada and not American citizens. The way the United States has tipped left off axis, we would have probably elected the morons to set policy for our whole country.
I was very heavily involved in an "elephant relocation" a few short years ago. I fully realize the emotions that come into play. I also witnessed first hand the "strong arming" and shady deal's that greased the wheels for the "relocation." Whether it is good for the animals or not, I am on the middle of the fence on that one. I have to be objectionable. I have seen way more of how the two side's operate then most people. Believe me, both side's have a terrible smell. And it's not the smell of shit. Shit isn't that offensive. Skewing fact's doesn't help, unless it is an agenda. Then it is the only way to roll.


Arnold Hefner said...

There has been a contract signed between the city and PAWS and there is no way the city is going to break the contract and get in a litigation mess. Why is this not being acknowledged?

I didn't even know sanctuaries for elephants existed until this fight. But after reading on my own, and listening to the defensiveness of the zoos and the advantages of sanctuaries, it appears that zoos are on the loosing side of time because better weather and more space for elephants is just common sense. The idea that these sanctuaries are not accredited is bogus. Just because it is not AZA, which after reading isn't so great, does not mean it is not a great place for animals. One thing I really don't like about the AZA is the breeding requirement - it's for the AZA as a broker to make money, not for the animals. Elephants don't need to be bred for captivity, the money needs to be spent preventing poaching in the wild with letting native populations increase. With present media exposure the public will come to the same conclusion. IMAX screens at zoos from Asia, Africa, or the sanctuaries can serve the purpose of education about (wild) elephants and cost a hell of a lot less than their physical care in inappropriate confined places.

I notice in the news articles the word "expertise" about the elephant keepers is bandied about. What expertise? A main reason for the decision (and a good one to take it out of the zoo's subjective hands) is the elephants are being moved because the zoo keepers do not have the expertise to even have kept the other elephants alive. Their so-called "love" is killing them. If the keepers truly love them, they will send them where they can better heal with real experts who only loose elephants to death because of past illnesses, not illnesses that are created because of circus/zoo care (or lack thereof). There is no doubt that the sanctuaries add years onto an elephant's life, including the benefit of better weather (a bogus point of snow that lasts a few days in San Andreas at most, as opposed to months and months in barns, is ridiculous).

How can there be any other conclusion than Mr. Jackson is stirring up more trouble and possibly giving the keepers false hope, especially in encouraging them to continue fighting to change the location of where the elephants will be moved. This is completely unfair to the city, its employees trying to get other pressing business done and to taxpayers whose concerns may be ignored because the city is constantly having to deal with malcontents.

Again, a contract has been signed! It's a done deal, Mr. Jackson and zoo keepers. Rightly or wrongly decided by the right or wrong people, gracefully learn to live with it. - And because you are all so angry, don't sabotage the move or kill the elephants because of delays - the taxpayers are mad enough with your waste of city time.

Arnold Hefner, Toronto.

Wade G. Burck said...

I note deaths only occur in sanctuaries because of "past illness." You folks write and edit your own stories to suit your need's. I know of an elephant that PAWS wouldn't take, until the owner of said elephant made a sizable donation. It has nothing to do with love of the elephant. It has to do with creating a job/livelihood for your self on someone elses nickle.