Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Air Force eyed to move elephants

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TORONTO -- The Royal Canadian Air Force is considering a proposal to move three Toronto-based elephants to a new home in California, a national zoo watchdog said Thursday.

Julie Woodyer, campaigns director with Zoo Check Canada, said she personally requested help from the military in order to ensure the pachyderms are relocated as soon as possible.

However, a spokeswoman for the Canadian Forces said Thursday "no such request has been received."

"The Department of National Defence and Canadian Armed Forces receive numerous requests each year for the use of military resources," Capt. Kendrah Allison said in an email.

City councillors voted last November to transfer the only three elephants still living at the Toronto Zoo to the Performing Animal Welfare Society sanctuary (PAWS) in San Andreas, Calif., by year's end. The move has been delayed in part due to the logistics of transporting the three huge animals, Woodyer said, adding those challenges prompted her to get the Air Force involved.

"There is no commercial option that is fully pressurized and has the height of the door to accommodate the tallest crate, which is 10 feet eight inches," Woodyer said in a telephone interview. "This would be the ideal situation."

Woodyer said she attended a meeting with both zoo and Air Force officials *Thursday morning.

She said all parties seemed receptive to the idea of leaving the animals in military hands for the move, but said the decision would ultimately lie with Defence Minister Peter MacKay.

-- The Canadian Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition March 22, 2013 A15

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