World Society for the Protection of Animals

World Society for the Protection of Animals

May 18, 2006 08:00 ET

Ontario is the WILD WEST in the zoo business

The WSPA calls for zoo standards that address public safety and animal welfare Attention: City Editor, Media Editor, News Editor, Travel/Tourism Editor TORONTO, ONTARIO, MEDIA RELEASE--(CCNMatthews - May 18, 2006) - With the long weekend approaching, people will be out exploring Ontario zoos. But what they don't know could hurt them. Ontario is the worst in Canada when it comes to public safety and the welfare of animals. The World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA) wants the government to implement standards to make it safer for the public and ensure proper care of animals.

There are currently no standards in place for zoos. So, it is not surprising there are more roadside zoos in Ontario than any where else in the country. More than 40 zoos are known to exist in Ontario and the majority are substandard, roadside facilities. By implementing standards it will force zoos to improve the conditions for the animals, and to make it safer for people to view these animals.

There are no public health and safety standards stipulating how dangerous animals should be contained in order to safeguard visitors, staff and the community. Shockingly, it is not hard to find tigers behind flimsy, low fences that allow for an easy escape.

"This is a serious concern as a number of people have been injured and a few even killed in Ontario by captive wildlife," says Melissa Tkachyk, Campaign Officer. Since June 2005, five captive wildlife escapes (Ontario) were reported in the media. "Last January, a woman and a boy were attacked by lions at an Ontario zoo on consecutive days. Sadly, these tragedies could've been prevented."

"It's not just about the public, far too many animals are in danger too. In danger of psychological illness, physical aliments, stress, small barren dirty cages, and inexperienced staff," said Tkachyk.

Many Canadian provinces are being proactive and are strengthening their captive wildlife regulations, forcing zoos to comply with basic animal welfare and public safety standards. Most recently the Alberta Government set a deadline of September 30 for all 13 licensed provincial zoos to implement new standards. If properly enforced, the new standards should eliminate most of the problems seen at Alberta's zoos.

The WSPA has taken steps to push this issue along with the province. It submitted a request for review under the Environmental Bill of Rights but it was rejected by the Ministry of Natural Resources. First on the list of reasons for rejection was, "The MNR has determined that the public interest does not warrant a review." The WSPA disagrees. "The MNR claims it's on top of the zoo issue, but they're not. Animals are still suffering and people are still getting hurt," says Tkachyk. The next step is bringing the issue to Queen's Park.

This long weekend, if people do decide to head to the zoo, the WSPA wants them to think twice before visiting a roadside zoo for safety sake and the animals' sake.

Please contact Melissa Tkachyk for an interview at 416-712-3468.

The World Society for the Protection of Animals is the largest animal welfare organization that works locally and around the world to improve the welfare of animals and end cruelty.
/For further information: Celecia Partap
Media Manager
416-526-4743/ IN: POLITICS, SOCIAL

Contact Information

  • Melissa Tkachyk, Campaigns Officer, World Society for the Protection of Animals
    Primary Phone: 416-712-3468
    Secondary Phone: 416-369-0044
    Toll-Free: 800-363-9772
    E-mail: tkachyk@wspa.ca