Three former zoo elephants from Canada have arrived at their new home in a California sanctuary after former "Price is Right" host and animal activist Bob Barker sought and paid for the move.
The 89-year-old Barker was on hand late Sunday to welcome the pachyderms to the Performing Animal Welfare Society's ARK 2000 compound in the hills near San Andreas, The Sacramento Bee reported.
"It was more than emotional for me, for all of us," Barker said. "I had tears in my eyes and a lump in my throat. It's hard to believe they are finally here."
The African elephants — Iringa, Thika and Toka — had been living at the Toronto Zoo. The Toronto City Council agreed two years ago to send them to the sanctuary following lobbying efforts by Barker and others who don't think elephants and other large animals belong at most zoos.
Barker paid close to $1 million to fund the road trip for the elephants that traveled to the sanctuary over nearly four days in special trailers.
The trio will join eight other elephants that roam more than 2,000 acres of land in Calaveras County. The sanctuary also accommodates tigers and other large animals that have previously been at zoos or in the circus, the Bee reported.
Ed Stewart, who co-founded the nonprofit that maintains the sanctuary, said it will take time for the elephants to adjust to their new surroundings.
"Our job will be to give each elephant the best care and their own time and space in which to adjust," he said.
Barker hosted "The Price Is Right" for 35 years and advised viewers each day to have their pets spayed and neutered.
As The Christian Science Monitor reported, Bob Barker has long been an animal-rights advocate. The anti-whaling group, Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, named a 1,200-tonne ship after Barker, when he donated $5 million to their cause.
As Barker told the Associated Press, he met Paul Watson of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society through mutual friends in the animal rights movement. Mr. Watson, who uses aggressive, confrontational tactics with a rag-tag fleet of black-painted boats against Japanese whalers every year in the Southern Ocean, made the following pitch, according to Barker: "He said he thought he could put the Japanese whaling fleet out of business if he had $5 million... I said, 'I think you do have the skills to do that, and I have $5 million, so let's get it on."
Information from: The Sacramento Bee, http://www.sacbee.com
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