The Ontario SPCA comments on animals on exhibit in zoos
August 17, 2017
The Ontario SPCA is privileged to be Ontario's animal welfare charity. We have been protecting and advocating for animals since 1873.
In 1919, the Government of Ontario retained the services of the Ontario SPCA to maintain and enforce provincial animal welfare legislation. For the first time, in 2013, the Government of Ontario began funding the enforcement of their provincial animal welfare legislation and the Ontario SPCA is now provided $5.5m per year for our work on behalf of the Government of Ontario in protecting animals province-wide.
The Ontario SPCA is currently investigating allegations of animal cruelty at the Papanack Zoo, located outside of Ottawa, Ontario. To preserve the integrity of the investigation, we cannot comment at this time. We understand and respect the public interest regarding this matter and, for that reason, we will provide all information that can be made public as the investigation proceeds. We ask the public to assist us by calling 310-SPCA to report any new information.
In recent years, there have been significant changes in the use of animals in entertainment. From the closure of Ringling Brothers Circus earlier this year to Sea World Orlando discontinuing performances of Orcas, people are more sensitized and concerned than ever before about the care and treatment of animals. While the Province of Ontario has taken steps in an effort to keep pace, more can and should be done.
The Ontario SPCA agrees that, in the short term, legislation must be created and/or strengthened to ensure mandatory licensing of zoos and to ensure regulations are in place to provide the maximum protection and care for animals.
The Ontario SPCA believes that animals on exhibit in zoos solely for commercial gain is an antiquated business model that must be stopped. The time to begin working towards this goal is now, if we work together to ensure our expectations are clear for elected officials.
The Ontario SPCA advocates that the Government of Ontario put in place the following, on behalf of animals in zoos:
- Develop and proclaim new or amended legislation to regulate zoos permitted to operate in the province, prohibiting any zoo exhibiting animals solely for commercial gain,
- Provide at least four Crown Attorneys to specialize in animal welfare law so that charges are seen through to justice and the public interest is served,
- Provide sufficient funding and resources for increased and ongoing inspections of zoo facilities, and for the eventual closure of zoos that exist solely for commercial gain,
- Allow the current Provincial Zoo & Aquarium Registry to be made public and available on the Government of Ontario's website.
The Ontario SPCA further advocates that every municipality in the province ensures local by-laws are in place to prohibit zoos that exist solely for commercial gain and prohibit private ownership of exotic wildlife. We are available as a resource to Municipalities to help develop such by-laws.