TORONTO, Ont. – City council voted to transfer the Toronto Zoo’s three remaining elephants to the PAWS sanctuary in California by the end of the year.

A motion accepted on Tuesday night calls for Iringa, Toka and Thika to be transferred to the sanctuary on or before Dec. 31.

Toronto zoo officials raised concerns about tuberculosis at the facility. But council accepted an independent report that found the facility to be safe.

“I think it’s disappointing but we also have to accept the decision of council,” said John Tracogna, the zoo’s chief executive officer.

Coun. Michelle Berardinetti is pleased with the decision but is cautiously excited, she said.

“Hold my breath until they arrive in the sanctuary in California because it breaks my heart the fact that they’re still here in Toronto and they’re going to suffer in substandard conditions until they’re removed,” she said.

“But it’s a great day.”

City council voted last fall to send the elephants to the facility after groups raised concerns about the animals’ well-being and animal activist Bob Barker promised to pay for a plane to fly the elephants to their new home.