Thika, Toka and Iringa Mark One-Year Anniversary at PAWS
An Animal Rights Article from All-Creatures.org

FROM

Performing Animal Welfare Society (PAWS)
October 2014

[NOTE from All-Creatures.org: For background information about the victory of moving these three elephants from the Toronto Zoo to PAWS sanctuary, check out Toronto Zoo Elephant Victory.]

It has been satisfying to see their initial difficulties in navigating inclines at the sanctuary give way to confidently moving up and down hills with ease....The elephants' active lifestyles and daily exploration of the habitats act as a form of natural physical therapy, increasing strength and keeping their joints mobile and flexible.

One year has passed since African elephants Iringa, Toka and Thika arrived at our 2,300-acre captive wildlife sanctuary in San Andreas, California, from the Toronto Zoo. We are pleased to report that all three elephants have adapted well to their new home. It has been satisfying to see their initial difficulties in navigating inclines at the sanctuary give way to confidently moving up and down hills with ease. The elephants' active lifestyles and daily exploration of the habitats act as a form of natural physical therapy, increasing strength and keeping their joints mobile and flexible.

Toronto elephants PAWS
Toka

Toronto elephants PAWS
Thika

Thika, Toka and Iringa are active during the day, exploring and foraging in their spacious habitats, selecting grasses and fresh natural vegetation, pushing on trees, and generally doing what elephants should be doing. They enjoy year-round access to the African habitat, including during the moderate California winters. All three elephants feel secure enough in their surroundings to lie down and rest, and each one has her own preferences. For example, Thika lies down to sleep regularly, both inside the barn and outside at night, while Toka lies down in the habitat to rest.

Even Iringa, who had not lain down for several years according to Toronto Zoo records, lies down for an occasional nap. In 2009, on two separate occasions, zoo staff had to lift her head with a strap to help her get up from a prone position. At PAWS, Iringa has also lain down and required assistance getting up. But once her head was up and her legs were in position, she quickly rose to her feet and was able to stand and walk. It is encouraging and noteworthy that Iringa has lain down, slept, and gotten to her feet without any assistance on several occasions.

Toronto elephants PAWS
Iringa (left) and Toka

Social interactions between all three Toronto elephants, and African elephants Mara, Maggie and Lulu, occur across a barrier both inside the barn and outside in the habitats, and are monitored closely. Thika, Toka and Iringa have a history of aggression and injuries that are well documented in the Toronto Zoo medical records, therefore, PAWS is moving forward cautiously with social introductions, keeping the elephants' best interests in mind. We will continue to monitor the behavior of all the elephants and will proceed with any social adjustments in a way that is safest for all of them. Elephant introductions must always be made carefully, taking into account each elephant's personality, behavioral history, physical condition, and perceived social ranking.

We are so pleased that Toka, Thika and Iringa are part of the PAWS family. PAWS is committed to providing excellent, lifelong veterinary care and husbandry - and plenty of TLC - as well as sound nutrition and an enriching natural habitat for them and for all of our elephants.


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