Elephant of the Week or Elephants to Adopt / Foster / Sponsor

THIKA: Elephant of the Week at PAWS – Performing Animal Welfare Society: Loxodonta africana

Name: Thika (pronounced ‘Tee-ka’) (1)

Date of Birth: 18 October 1980 at the Toronto Zoo

Parents: Tantor (male) (2) born 1969, captured 1971, died 2 Aug 1989 & Tequila (female) (3) wild born 1970, captured 1972,    died 2 September 2008.                                               

Sibling:Tumpe (female) (4) born 25 August 1983 at the Toronto Zoo to parents Tantor & Tequila, died 17 March 2009 at Disney’s Animal Kingdom in Florida.


Image: Thika at the Toronto Zoo from cc video by claratea, march 2011


Rescued: October 2013 (by PAWS & Bob Barker who “funded the road trip” of the 3 Toronto Zoo Elephants, Toka ,Thika & Iringa at a cost of nearly One Million Dollars (5)

Gender: Female

Where Now: PAWS Wildlife Sanctuary (6) 


Thika, indoors at zoo, turning round and round while balancing on pedestal. Source (7)


Loxodonta africana  For more information on how to ADOPT THIKA (8) and for more PHOTOS of Thika that you will love see them at: PAWS which includes  “The Toronto Elephants: PAWS PHOTO ALBUMS of 

“The Journey” (9) and “First 30 Days” (10)


Characteristics: Thika is instantly recognizable by her ‘furrowed brow’** & by her long legs! (she is also the tallest of the elephants) (12)

**comment made by shiboof on PAWSWEB video ‘Thika’s First Time in the Lagoon.’ Watch for yourself! (11)


Milestone: As Thika was born captive, in a zoo, it took her a little more time to develop and embrace her elephantness. Therefore, browsing in the natural environment of the elephant sanctuary at PAWS was not an ‘innate behavior’. Her day came, however, in her own “elephant time” and when she discovered she was free to make her own choices, there was no holding her back! (12)

Best Friends: “Thika has bonded with Mara and can be seen following her around like an enthusiastic little sister.” (12)



Source (17)



Thika became the “first African elephant born in Canada and the 4th born in North America” at the time of her birth in 1980 at the Toronto Zoo. (13)

Sadly her mother rejected her not long after she was born which is quite common in zoos and amongst other captive elephants.(Those caring for Thika at PAWS could ‘sense that this experience deeply affected her’ (12) and were especially sensitive to her needs upon her arrival.)

Her full sibling, Tumpe, was transferred out of the zoo only a few short years after her (Tumpe’s) birth in 1983. So any bond she may have formed with her sister was torn away. 


Image: Scuffle at zoo from video ‘Sanctuary for the Toronto Zoo elephants’ by the fifth estate. Source (16)


There were instances of discord among the Toronto Zoo elephants especially between Thika, and Toka her elder by 10 years (Iringa, born in 1969, was senior to them both). One day, all on her own, Thika had decided to take on the role of matriarch. She took a special delight in her “new-found power” which she used to intimidate the other elephants, especially Toka. (14) Tension between the elephants remained despite zoo keepers doing their best to coerce Thika & Toka to bond by bringing them together for ‘compatibility sessions’ in short increments of time. (15)


Wild-born female elephants naturally bond with their own families (females spend their lives together; mothers, daughters, aunties and their offspring). Despite being known as a “social species” it would not be natural for these elephants to live with unrelated elephants outside their own herds. In zoos, however, “elephants are haphazardly brought together” from different families and different locales. (15) 

Is it any wonder that once the Toronto Zoo elephants arrived at PAWS they decided to go their separate ways? (15) PAWS helped Thika by slowly integrating her into the PAWS herd; creating two separate groups in the beginning, they felt, “was the kindest thing to do”. (12) 


Today, everyone (Toka & Thika (18)) is relaxed and able to just be the elephants they are, doing what elephants like to do – as it should be.”


ADOPT THIKA the elephant at PAWS (8)


Image: African elephants Thika (tusks) & Mara video by PAWSWEB. Source (17)




(1) https://www.elephant.se/database2.php?elephant_id=2102

(2) https://www.elephant.se/database2.php?elephant_id=2120   

(3) https://www.elephant.se/database2.php?elephant_id=2100

(4) https://www.elephant.se/database2.php?elephant_id=2121

(5) https://www.upi.com/Odd_News/2013/10/23/Bob-Barker-rescues-three-elephants-with-near-1-million-donation/6751382539908/

(6) http://www.pawsweb.org/index.html

(7) creative commons video ‘Toronto Zoo Elephants by Jessdoo https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8EPG4RGYjFU

(8) http://www.pawsweb.org/meet_elephants.html

(9)  http://www.pawsweb.org/documents/THE_JOURNEY_001.pdf

(10) http://www.pawsweb.org/documents/NOVEMBER_PHOTOS_TE.pdf

(11) PAWSWEB video ‘Thika’s First Time in the Lagoon.’  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_F4IqslyfIs 

(12) https://myemail.constantcontact.com/October-Newsletter–5-Year-Anniversary-of-the-Toronto-Elephants–Arrival-at-PAWS.html?soid=1101778242429&aid=KfDHRmyB1C4

(13) Comment from Save the Elephants from the video  ‘Thika at the Toronto Zoo’  by Claratea https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5kVfa5Nmnfk  also image from this video, see images

(14) Article: ’What Elephants Know’ by Nicholas Hune-Brown Toronto Life Magazine, 2010  https://torontolife.com/searchgc/?q=toronto+zoo+elephants+2010  

(15) https://myemail.constantcontact.com/PAWS–June-newsletter-features-African-elephant-Toka-and-includes-a-video-of-her-playing-in-the-mud–We-also-pay-tribute-to-co-f.html?soid=1101778242429&aid=Sz2j8NQYPnc

(16) creative commons video ‘Sanctuary for the Toronto Zoo elephants – the fifth estate’  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iEXPOYNmZfQ

(17) ‘African elephants Thika (tusks) & Mara’ video by PAWSWEB https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=36mYOL9euK8

(18) Sadly, Iringa the elephant died on 22 July 2016  https://www.pawsweb.org/documents/IRINGAPRESSRELEASE.pdf


Images: Thika at PAWS after rescue from cc video ‘Sanctuary for the Toronto Zoo elephants – the fifth estate’ (16); Thika at the Toronto Zoo video by claratea march 2011 (13); scuffle at zoo video ‘Sanctuary for the Toronto Zoo elephants by the fifth estate’ (16); ‘African elephants Thika (tusks) & Mara’ video by PAWSWEB (17)



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Image: Thika at PAWS after rescue, from cc video ‘Sanctuary for the Toronto Zoo elephants – the fifth estate’

One thought on “THIKA: Elephant of the Week at PAWS – Performing Animal Welfare Society: Loxodonta africana

  1. Pingback: Born To Be Wild: Former Toronto Zoo Elephants, Caught on Video in a Violent Scuffle, Display the Tension Captive Elephants Are Under Every Single Day of Their Lives | Elephant Spoken Here

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