Thursday’s long-awaited meeting at the Valley Zoo was “terribly disappointing,” retired TV icon Bob Barker said.
The aging celeb rolled into town with a small army of elephant experts, bent on persuading zoo officials to send Lucy the elephant to warmer climates.
“The meeting went badly,” he said after meeting Lucy. “The zoo is absolutely implacable. They won’t consider even saying when Lucy is feeling well we can take her to a sanctuary.”
An independent veterinarian recently examined Lucy and determined she’s too ill to survive a lengthy move. Zoo staff have rejected offers for a team of elephant health experts to examine her.
“We don’t want to cloud the issue by bringing in other biased individuals who cloud the picture,” the zoo’s head veterinarian Milton Ness said yesterday, adding he will continue to work with the zoo’s doctor to develop a health plan.
Despite the city’s firm stance, PETA officials are preparing for a legal battle to free Lucy, and have retained high-profile Toronto criminal lawyer Clayton Ruby to take on the task.
“In our estimation, there is no law the zoo is breaking,” said community services general manager Linda Cochrane, adding though there are industry standards recommending captive elephants be kept in herds, “That’s not a law.”
The zoo’s long-term plan is one that doesn’t include welcoming any more elephants once Lucy dies, as the current enclosure was designed to house only two elephants, Cochrane added.
The unwavering position of zoo officials hasn’t swayed 86-year-old Barker, adding he will fight for the 34-year-old Asian elephant to live out her days in warmer climates as long as he’s alive.
“I don’t know how much of a haul I have left, but I’d like to, before I go to my maker, would like to see Lucy in a sanctuary.”