In the zoo business, elephants are known as “charismatic mega fauna.” Plodding yet graceful, these beasts possess lethal power. It’s why they say that if you don’t have an elephant, you can’t call yourself a zoo. But two years ago, despite their huge popularity with the zoo-going public, three female elephants in Toronto faced eviction. The Toronto Zoo was forced to admit they could no longer afford the millions of dollars it takes to maintain the elephants. And like so many other big zoos, they were facing mounting pressure from animal welfare activists – including retired game show host Bob Barker. The Fifth Estate follows the city-wide furor over the future of "the girls", a controversy that touches on the flash points in the current worldwide debate over the value of zoos. The film journeys across the continent to their new home at the PAWS sanctuary in San Andreas, California, an internationally renowned sanctuary for retired zoo and circus animals.