Edmonton’s mayor miffed at Toronto for weighing in on Lucy the Elephant

Matt Coutts
Daily Brew

The mayor of Edmonton has a message for Toronto's city council: Stop stomping on his turf.

The Edmonton Journal reports that Stephen Mandel was irate after Toronto council decided to stick its tusks into his city's elephant debate, passing a motion to urge Edmonton to move 37-year-old Lucy the Elephant.

On Tuesday, Toronto voted to move its own three elephants to a sanctuary in California. The motion included putting pressure on Edmonton to do the same.

Mandel told his council, via the Journal:

I think it's very disrespectful of other cities who pass resolutions about what Edmonton should or shouldn't do. They should understand why we do what we do. … We're only concerned about Lucy's health, not about whether we have a philosophical position about whether to move her or not move her.

The slight may be the elephant in the room at the next big-city mayor's conference. Mandel, like Lucy the Elephant, may never forget.

(NOTE: The over/under for strained puns in this article is 4.5. I'd take the over)

A number of celebrities, including retired game show host Bob Barker, have put pressure on the city to move Lucy to North Carolina, where the weather is more tolerable. The Journal reported that Beatles star Paul McCartney is letting an animal rights group set up an exhibit at his Edmonton concert.

[ Related: Toronto says elephants California-bound by end of the year ]

Mandel, meantime, says there are serious doubts whether the elderly elephant, which suffers from a laundry-list of ailments, would survive the trip. He also suggested Toronto council pack their trunks and visit Edmonton before weighing in on the matter.

"It's none of their business to butt into our business. I don't appreciate it at all … I'm very disappointed a council 2,500 or however many miles from us would decide to get involved," Mandel said.

The ivory ... er ... irony of the situation is that while both Toronto and Edmonton each have ongoing debates over what to do with their zoo's elephants, Edmonton has moved one most recently.

[ Related: Toronto ground zero for battle over future of elephants in zoos ]

Samantha, a young female, was removed from the Valley Zoo in 2007 to breed and is not expected to return.

Toronto, meantime, voted to move their three pachyderms, Iringa, Toka and Thika, to a California sanctuary last year. The move was delayed over fears of a tuberculosis outbreak at the PAWS Sanctuary.

To be fair to Toronto's council, the motion in question came amid a hectic day. Mayor Rob Ford was thrown from office for breaching the Municipal Conflict of Interest Act and the embattled mayor had just vowed to take on the elephantine task of clearing his name.

So if they crossed the line when they voted to move the elephants, it was probably because they were anxious to vote something out of the city.