Bob Barker was fairly glowing Monday after he'd welcomed former Toronto zoo elephants Iringa, Thika and Toka to their new home at the PAWS animal sanctuary in San Andreas, Calif. — a journey the former game-show host reportedly funded to the tune of nearly $1 million.
Upon watching the animals' arrival Sunday, "I had a lump in my throat, I had tears in my eyes. I’ve discovered that the older I get, the easier I cry. ... The ones that were crying the most were those miserable zoo keepers in Toronto," said Barker, for years a standout animal activist, in a Monday news conference (via Fox 40) outside the Performing Animal Welfare Society’s ARK 2000 compound.
“We have taken animals from the circus – which is our archenemy, as many of you know. But we’ve never had a situation like this,” said Ed Stewart, PAWS co-founder and president. The zoo initially did not cooperate with the effort to move the animals, he said. However, the Sacramento Bee reported, the Toronto City Council two years ago voted to send the animals south after extensive lobby by the former "The Price Is Right" host.
Efforts by Barker, who also contributes to children's and veterans' causes, are responsible for the presence of seven of the sanctuary's elephants, it was revealed at the new conference.
"I have made a difference and thank the good Lord for it," he said. "I had a job that I loved, I was doing what I loved and I was well paid for it. Now I'm spending my money — I intend to die broke — and I'm spending my money on something I consider very important.
Iringa, Thika and Toka will now go through an adjustment period that "may take weeks, months or even longer," Stewart told the Bee. "Our job will be to give each elephant the best care and their own time and space in which to adjust.”
More details about the elephants' nearly four-day journey via truck from Toronto to California can be seen on the Follow the Elephants blog, hosted by the CBC's "The Fifth Estate" investigative program. Handlers and veterinarians were present on the trip.
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