World Society for the Protection of Animals

World Society for the Protection of Animals

October 23, 2006 10:00 ET

New Legislation Would Protect Animals and Communities

Press Conference to be held Monday, October 23 at Queen's Park

Attention: Assignment Editor, City Editor, News Editor, Photo Editor, Government/Political Affairs Editor TORONTO, ONTARIO, MEDIA RELEASE--(CCNMatthews - Oct. 23, 2006) - Member of Provincial Parliament David Zimmer is introducing a Private Members Bill in the Ontario Legislature today that will address gaps in zoo legislation identified by the Environmental Commissioner of Ontario's annual report released October 3rd. 'The Regulation of Zoos Act' will ensure the public is protected and animals' receive appropriate care.

"Existing regulations are vague, unenforceable and only apply to native wildlife. There are no regulations for keeping tigers, lions, or monkeys in your backyard," says Liberal MPP David Zimmer. "How useful is a zoo licensing system that only applies to 1/3 of the animals. This bill I'm putting forward will fill that gap."

This bill has the support of the three leading animal welfare organizations in Ontario: the World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA), the Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Ontario SPCA), and Zoocheck Canada.

"We applaud David Zimmer for taking action to address Ontario's zoo problem," says Melissa Tkachyk, WSPA Campaigns Officer. "We raised this issue with the Environmental Commissioner, who agreed there are significant gaps in our zoo regulations. This bill will require all zoos to meet professional welfare and safety standards to protect the animals, visitors, staff, and community

Ontario lags far behind other provinces in regulating the proper care and management of captive animals. Ontario has more than 45 zoos, with the vast majority of them being roadside zoos. These zoos typically house animals in poor, barren conditions, offering little more than a food and water bowl and a shelter box. Anyone can open a zoo. No formal training in animal husbandry or base level funding is required.

Investigations by professional zookeepers and veterinarians found dangerous animals behind flimsy, low fences, unlocked cages and gates. The past 12 years have seen a number of people injured, even killed in Ontario by captive exotic animals.

"We see animals living in horrible conditions, but our hands are tied, we can rarely lay charges because Ontario has the weakest animal legislation in the country," says Hugh Coghill, Ontario SPCA Acting Chief Inspector. "There is a real need for legislation and the Zimmer Bill will address it."

Zoocheck has been investigating the conditions of Ontario zoos for two decades. "We have watched each government in power duck responsibility on this issue," says Rob Laidlaw, Zoocheck Director. "It's great David Zimmer is taking the lead on an issue that has been neglected for far too long."

The animal welfare organizations hope this bill will receive unanimous support from all members of the legislature. /For further information: www.ontariozoos.ca/ IN: EDUCATION, POLITICS, TRAVEL, OTHER

Contact Information

  • Celecia Partap, Media Manager, WSPA
    Primary Phone: 416-526-4743
    Secondary Phone: 416-369-0044 ext. 106
    E-mail: partap@wspa.ca