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Game show host Bob Barker pays elephants' airfare

March 24, 2012

(FILES) In this file picture taken on October 6, 2011 three asian elephants from the Circus Knie, walk to bathe into Lake Geneva in Lausanne. Three overweight elephants at a Swiss circus will now have to work harder for their supper as they need to lose between 50 and 300 kilogrammes, Swiss newspaper Tages Anzeiger reported on March 21, 2012. To help them lose weight, the Circus Knie is not only putting them on a special diet with less sugar rations, it is also building a system requiring them to exercise in order to reach their food. - AFP Photo

LOS ANGELES: Former "The Price is Right" host Bob Barker is spending $880,000 to fly three elephants to sunny California in style aboard a private cargo plane, he said on Friday.

Barker agreed to foot the bill to move Thika, Iringa and Toka to PAWS Sanctuary in San Andreas, California from the Toronto Zoo after growing concerned that Canada's chilly climate was unsuitable for them. In the wild, elephants live in the warmer weather regions of Africa and the Indian subcontinent.

One of the elephants - a female - had a foot problem that could have made a trip by truck fatal, Barker said, which is why he agreed to pay for a flight for all three animals.

"I thought it would be so tragic for them to have suffered like they have for such a long time, and then to have her not be able to make it," Barker told Reuters.

A representative from the Toronto Zoo was not immediately available for comment. Thika, Iringa and Toka are the zoo's last remaining elephants.

The California sanctuary has acres of land for the elephants to explore, with lakes, hillsides, flatlands and other pachyderms already there.

"They'll have trees, elephants love to tear up trees, they'll have all the trees they want to tear up," Barker said.

A Russian-built cargo plane has been chosen for the mission, which is due to take place before May 15.

Veteran entertainer Barker hosted game show "The Price Is Right" from 1972 to 2007. An animal lover, he often ended the show by urging viewers to have their pets spayed or neutered.

The television personality said he plans to be at the sanctuary to greet the elephants when they arrive, but that he will be cautious. "I don't want to get caught in a three elephant stampede," he said.