The elephants — Iringa, Thika and Toka — had previously resided at the Toronto Zoo. Under pressure from animal activists, the Toronto City Council in October 2011 agreed to transfer them to a more humane location. Making all of this possible was a very generous offer from the former "Price is Right" host to pay for the cost of shipping the three pachyderms across North America. The final cost was expected to be between $850,000 to a cool $1 million.
"It was more than emotional for me, for all of us," Barker said, after the animals arrived after a four-day road trip in special trailers. "I had tears in my eyes and a lump in my throat. It's hard to believe they are finally here."
Once settled, the three elephants will join another trio of African elephants in sharing an enclosure covering some 80 acres — a dramatic increase from the small space they roamed at the Toronto Zoo.
"They have a mud hole; elephants love to play in the mud," Barker said earlier
. "They have a pool; some of them stay underwater practically the whole summer. And there are elephants for them to socialize with. Elephants come in that have been mistreated and been lonely and depressed, and they just blossom. It’s wonderful to behold.”
The animal welfare group, also known as PAWS, has agreed to pay for the costs associated with the "lifelong" care for the elephants.
“PAWS looks forward to seeing these elephants make the transition from living in a zoo for most, if not all, of their lives, to exploring their expansive new home and meeting our resident African elephants,” said PAWS president and co-founder Ed Stewart
in a written statement. “The elephants will receive excellent care from a dedicated staff, as they settle into their new lives at our sanctuary.”
Check out a video of the elephants enjoying their first day at the sanctuary below.
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