10/02/2012 09:37 EDT | Updated 12/02/2012 05:12 EST

Toronto Begins Process To Sell Or Lease Zoo


Mayor Rob Ford is in favour of selling the Toronto Zoo, preferably at a profit for the taxpayers.

"I'd love to see us sell the zoo and make money on it if we can," Ford told reporters late Tuesday afternoon.

The mayor's remarks come a day after the City of Toronto took another step towards the possible sale of Canada's largest zoo, after a request for expressions of interest was sent out Monday.

The document, issued by city staff, calls for "innovative, creative, and sustainable options for the Toronto Zoo as an initial step in its sale, lease, operation or other arrangements."

The facility has more than 5,000 animals spread over almost 300 hectares of land.

The window for offers is open until Nov 26.

Council would have to vote to accept any new plan for the zoo.

However, Coun. Gloria Linsday Luby has indicated her intention to move a motion to stop any bid from private interests.

Luby, a member of the zoo board of management, said she would like to see a zoological society take over the Toronto Zoo.

"Basically, we want council to consider the fact that we have a well-considered version of a non-profit zoological society that would be able to take the zoo off of the city’s back and over a series of years would be able to diminish the amount of operational costs that the city pays into the zoo," Luby said in an interview Tuesday.

Selling off the city's zoos was part of independent auditor KPMG 's suggestions in a comprehensive document released in 2011 meant to find savings in the city's budget.

Mayor wants elephants to stay put

Ford also told reporters Tuesday that he was not in favour of moving the zoo's three African elephants, which council previously approved sending to a U.S. sanctuary.

"Keep the elephants here and take it from there," said Ford.

While city council voted last year to send elephants Thika, Toka and Iringa south of the border, they remain in Toronto, with zoo staff recently announcing there are still sticking points in the plan to relocate them.

Former game-show host Bob Barker has offered to pay for the plane that will be needed to fly the Toronto elephants south of the border. However, he has expressed frustration with the delays that have surrounded the intended transfer.