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Bob Barker antes up for Toronto elephants

Bob Barker antes up for Toronto elephants
An African elephant cools off under the elephant shower at Six Flags Discovery Kingdom in Vallejo, Calif., July 23, 2009. (UPI Photo/Ken James) | License Photo

TORONTO, Dec. 19 (UPI) -- Former TV game show host and animal rights advocate Bob Barker says he'll pay to have three Toronto Zoo elephants moved to a California sanctuary.

The 88-year-old former host of "The Price is Right" announced Sunday he would personally cover the cost of moving the African elephants to the Performing Animal Welfare Sanctuary in the spring.

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In a statement posted Sunday on the PAWS Web site, Barker said he wanted to cut through the wrangling among zoo staff members opposed to the move and concerns about expenses.

"I do not want the transition of the elephants to be hampered in any way," Barker wrote. "I said this would not cost the city a penny and I want to assure them [city councilors] it won't."

In October, city councilors voted to close the elephant exhibit, angering zoo officials, who had been debating the issue since May. The zoo staff launched a vitriolic online protest, saying the PAWS facility isn't an accredited zoo.

The animal welfare group Zoocheck supports the move and has been looking at the best way to transport Iringa, 42, Toka, 41, and Thika, 31, to California, the Toronto Star said. The most likely option the group has found is using a Canadian or U.S. military transport plane, the newspaper said.

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Regardless, Barker said he would cover the cost.

Earlier this year, on CTV's "Canada AM" show, he said "Canada is a wonderful place, but it's too cold for elephants."

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