Narrating the correlation of elephants as related to their import, groupings, breeding and transfers,
along with other elephant related topics.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Postcard Press - Toronto Zoo

From Wade Burck's "Circus No-Spin Zone:"

Thursday, June 9, 2011
Toronto Zoo--Year Unknown
Posted by Wade G. Burck

Radar said...
Wayne Jackson tells us these elephants were imported by Fred Zeehandelaar. They had a rather successful breeding program for the time period in the early 1980s.

One of the four captive born African elephants still resides in Toronto. She is one of the zoo's three cows amidst the controversy of Toronto discontinuing their elephant program and relocating their elephants either to an accredited zoological facility or one of two American elephant "sanctuaries."

Eight elephants, a male and seven females, were purchased in three different intervals for the Toronto Zoo's premier year. Animal importer Fred Zeehandelaar acquired the herd from Mozambique, Africa, in 1974. The first group of three arrived in July - the institution's only male Tantor with females Tara and Tessa. Two months later, two more females, Toka and Tequila, joined the group. The final three females arrived in an additional two months, Iringa, Patsy and Juanita.

An educated guess brings me to believe this photograph was taken in the mid-1970s, within a several year time period after the entire herd had completed arrival in late 1974. The first successful mating occurred in 1978, leading to the birth of Thika in October 1980. None of the elephants in the photograph appear to be heavily pregnant.

For Further Information:
>> "Toronto Zoo in Canada" at


  1. AnonymousJune 16, 2011

    G'day Wade,
    I started work at the Metro Toronto Zoo on July 10th, 1974 and before the elephants started to arrive and before the opening day of August 15th, 1974. My guess is that the photo for the postcard was taken in 1975 and it was the first postcards of our elephants. Zeehandler worked with the Rhuer(spell?) family to acquire the elephants and a lot of other species, such as 200 Flamingos(cancelled), 25 Crown cranes, 25 Lilford cranes, 25 Demilsel cranes and 25 male Wapiti elk to go with 2 females (it was for the show!), the males arrived, but were held off site and then sold. Also three more male African were ordered, but cancelled before being shipped from Europe, just what the zoo needed!

    Happy Days
    The Retired Wanderin Elephant Man

  2. Thank you for the anecdote, Wayne! Can you tell us anything about the breeding program at Toronto? The first birth occurred in 1980, the second in 1983 and the final two within three months of each other in 1984. The breeding male did not die until 1989. Why were there no more births from the group and why were only three of the seven females successful breeders?

  3. AnonymousJune 16, 2011

    Wayne: Did the Toronto Zoo ever think about getting Asian elephants as well at some point? I know they would have to be held in the Indomalayan section and a new house/exhibit would need to be built if they were ever brought in.

    Also, any other interesting historical facts about Toronto zoo's elephants?

    Radar: Great blog, I've really learned a lot from it.

    Keep up the good work, thanks!

  4. Thank you, Anonymous. I am glad you are enjoying the publishings. Your comment regarding the 'Indomalayan section' leads me to believe you are from the Toronto area. Do you have any pictures of the elephant facilities you would like to share? If so, you can send them to me at shomeetigers[at] I would be happy to post them and give you credit as well. Share a name too, if so!

  5. AnonymousJune 21, 2011

    G’day All,
    Unfortunately after Tantor came into his first musth, he was kept full time in the upper house that had a small yard and at least one female was put in with him for breeding, unfortunately Tantor came very close to killing her! It was a real shame they didn’t breed, they both had great looks and were both quite tall!

    In the original plans, they were going to build the Asian elephant facility below the Indo pavilion by the settling pond. Toby Styles tried to acquire a female from the Colombo Zoo, but no luck. In ’82, the Director at that time told me that he was offered a pair of Asians for $50.000.00 from a zoo in Holland, but ended up turning it down.

    One of these days I will burn my Circus/Elephant DVD and send it to you Ryan, it has lots of photos of the Toronto elephants as well as inside and outside both building!

    Hope this helps!

    Happy Days

    Wayne Jackson
    Retired Wanderin’
    Elephant Man

  6. Wayne,
    Thank you for sharing. It is always better to hear first-hand the history and management of elephants in an institution, as opposed to making assumptions. It aggravates me to hear facilities criticized for lack of a breeding program even though they have previously proven breeding males or females. I know several facilitates that medical issues halt breeding efforts, or simply the males and/or females are not interested.

    It excites me that ShowMe Elephants is gaining more insight from professionals in the business to share elephant history.


I eagerly anticipate associating with new individuals with an interest or history in elephants, elephant history and elephant record keeping. If you have further information regarding the animals or locations questioned in the article, please leave a comment or message me in an effort to complete their records for elephant historians.