Ontario’s captive wildlife suffer another tourist season

Ontario’s captive wildlife suffer another tourist season

July 18, 2013 (Toronto, Ontario) – The Canadian Federation of Humane Societies (CFHS) and Zoocheck are encouraged by Community Safety Minister Madeleine Meilleur’s statement that there will be new laws in Ontario to protect the welfare of animals in zoos and aquariums.

“We need to give Ontario’s captive wildlife a law with teeth in order to truly respond to public outcry about the treatment of animals in captivity,” says Barbara Cartwright, CEO of the Canadian Federation of Humane Societies.

In August 2012 several trainers at Marineland Canada came forward with allegations of animal neglect and abuse rekindling a debate on the welfare and treatment of captive wildlife in the province that’s been smoldering for years.

“I’m deeply concerned that another tourist season will pass before regulations are put in place,” Rob Laidlaw, Executive Director of Zoocheck. “Without a doubt, Ontario has the worst zoos in the country. With no comprehensive laws, it’s a free for all. How long will the animals have to wait?”

The CFHS and Zoocheck both support a ban on the keeping of marine mammals in captivity in Ontario because the physical, behavioural or environmental needs of these aquatic animals are virtually impossible to satisfy in captivity. The two organizations also support a licensing system which would require any facility that keeps animals in captivity to fully disclose their animal inventory, to adhere to mandated standards of animal housing and care and be subject to unannounced inspections to ensure the animals are well cared for. The groups also support whistleblower protection for staff who speak out about animal neglect and abuse.

“With no real standards in place Ontario taxpayers will be on the hook for the long term expense of caring for these animals if one of these sub-par zoos goes bankrupt,” says Ms. Cartwright.

“Marineland has more beluga whales than all US facilities combined, yet we have no specific rules governing their import, housing or care,” says Mr. Laidlaw. “My colleagues in other jurisdictions wonder why Ontario is so behind the times on this issue.”

The Canadian Federation of Humane Societies (CFHS) is a national organization representing humane societies and SPCAs in Canada. Founded in 1957, the CFHS works toward positive, progressive change to end animal cruelty, improve animal protection and promote the humane treatment of all animals.

Zoocheck is an international wildlife protection charity established to promote and protect the interests and wellbeing of wild animals.

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Kim Elmslie, Communications and Advocacy Manager, CFHS, 613-224-8072 ex. 12, kime@cfhs.ca

Rob Laidlaw, Executive Director, Zoocheck, 416-285-1744 rob@zoocheck.com

Media Release: Ontario’s captive wildlife suffer another tourist season
Ontario’s captive wildlife suffer another tourist season
Humane Canada (also known as the Canadian Federation of Humane Societies) is Canada's federation of SPCAs and humane societies, representing the largest animal welfare community in Canada.