Animal welfare still a concern at Ontario zoos

Jul 19, 2006

Many of Ontario's zoos subject animals to lives in small, barren cages where they are deprived of opportunities to behave naturally.

WSPA Canada investigated three southwestern Ontario zoos to see if improvements have been made since last year's investigation. Sadly, very little has changed since the 2005 audit when zoo expert Dr. Ken Gold gave all three zoos a failing grade.

Animals kept in deplorable conditions

Tyson the kangaroo at the Lickety Split Zoo lives in a small, barren enclosure with only a metal shed to sleep in.

During their investigations, WSPA found animals with cuts on their heads, a horse with overgrown and cracked hooves, birds pecking each other's feathers out, animals being fed improper diets, and unlocked cages.

According to WSPA, two of the zoos investigated, the Lickety Split Zoo and the Pine Ridge Zoo, are among the worst zoos in the country and should be shut down.  Despite repeated recommendations from WSPA over the last several years, these zoos continue to keep animals in terrible conditions and put the safety of zoo visitors at risk.

WSPA's work to end animals suffering in Ontario zoos

Following their investigations, WSPA Canada held a press conference in London, Ontario, to publicize their findings and encourage the Canadian Ministries Office to implement zoo standards for the protection of both people and animals.

WSPA is also pressuring the Ontario government to create standards that would force all zoos to operate at a professional standard or be closed.  The Ontario government currently makes it far too easy for residents to collect wild animals in small cages and advertise themselves as a zoo. There are more roadside zoos in Ontario than anywhere else in Canada.  Over 40 zoos are known to exist, and the majority of these are substandard.

WSPA has also issued complaints with the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and the Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals to look into these zoos. Unfortunately, under current law, such groups have little power to help these animals in Ontario.

What is a roadside zoo?

Roadside zoos typically consist of a range of small ramshackle cages that contain little more than a water bowl, food bowl and a box to sleep in.  Most of these “zoos” lack trained professional animal care staff and the financial resources necessary to ensure adequate care and housing.

Deprived of opportunities to behave naturally, animals in these zoos often become bored and frustrated and exhibit signs of psychological disturbance, including stereotypic behaviors.


For more information on Ontario Zoos click here.

To read more about WSPA‘s work on this issue, visit the WSPA Canada website.

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