10/17/2013 12:12 EDT | Updated 12/17/2013 05:12 EST

2 Toronto zookeepers to travel with elephants to California

A deal has been struck to allow a pair of Toronto zookeepers to travel with Thika, Toka and Iringa as they make their way to a California sanctuary.

The CBC’s Trevor Dunn reported Thursday that zookeepers say they did not have to sign a non-disclosure agreement in order to accompany the elephants on their journey to their new home.

The zoo had not been advertising the precise day the elephants would be departing Toronto, but had let the public know the last chance to see them would be during the Thanksgiving weekend.

As of late Thursday morning, the zookeepers say the elephants are in crates, but they will need be examined before they leave.

A decision was made more than two years ago to "phase out" the elephant program at the zoo, though a series of squabbles involving zoo staff, city councillors and animal advocates delayed their departure.

Elephants had been a part of the zoo since it first opened in 1974.

But over time, the elephants’ numbers dwindled to the point where just three remained. Those are the same three elephants scheduled to be heading south on Thursday.