Canada’s dangerous ‘roadside’ zoo season is upon us

A Japanese macaque kept in a small, flooded exhibition cage with very little to climb on at an Ontario road-side zoo. Photo: World Animal Protection (CNW Group/World Animal Protection)

TORONTOMay 18, 2022 /CNW/ – World Animal Protection is highlighting the dangers of dozens of under-regulated roadside zoos that are set to open over the Victoria Day long weekend.

“Few, if any, roadside zoos and other animal attractions meet any professional zoo safety standards,” said Michèle Hamers, World Animal Protection Campaign Manager. “These facilities put their visitors at risk of injury from wild animal interactions and can cause severe suffering to the animals kept in these facilities through inadequate management.”

Animal welfare laws pertaining to captive wildlife in Canada are currently largely a patchwork of provincial and municipal bylaws and regulations. For example, in Ontario, it’s up to municipalities to draft regulations involving exotic animal ownership. This has led to incidents like the ones involving Ontario’s ‘Tiger King’. The province has the unfortunate track record of having the weakest regulations in Canada.

It’s an issue in the Ontario election where an overwhelming majority support tighter regulations in this space.

Nationally, Senator Marty Klyne has introduced the Jane Goodall Bill in the Senate. If passed, it would significantly restrict the number of unregulated or under-regulated zoos in Canada and limit ownership of more than 800 animal species.

The Bill would also end the use of various animals for entertainment as well as smaller mobile zoos, where the business model incorporates a significant program of offsite live animal activities and shows. During these events, interaction and contact with the animals is encouraged. This can bring significant risk to human health, public safety and animal welfare.

This national legislation would also impact any zoo that is not AZA (Association of Zoos and Aquariums) accredited. And likely significantly reduce the number of roadside zoos and mobile zoos in the country.

World Animal Protection estimates there are over 100 mobile zoos operating in Canada with little to no regulations.

Our research found more than 1.4 million wild animals are kept as pets in Canadian households. Between 2014 and 2019, approximately 1.8 million wild animals were imported into Canada from countries all over the world.

World Animal Protection Campaign Manager, Michèle Hamers, is available to speak to the dangers of the roadside zoo season and World Animal Protection’s efforts to push for tighter animal welfare regulations across all levels of government.

SOURCE World Animal Protection

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