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Undercover Video Shows Shocking Animal Cruelty at Papanack Zoo

Animal Justice August 11, 2017

OTTAWA—Disturbing video footage secretly recorded at the Papanack Zoo in Wendover, Ontario was released this morning by Animal Justice. The footage shows zoo management admitting to beating a lion cub, baby animals stolen from their mothers to be tamed for use as selfie props, and animals performing repetitive, stereotypic behaviours. In one particularly disturbing scene, a skunk and raccoon have their mouths pried open with a cord by zoo management during a photo shoot for the reality TV show ‘Billy Goes North‘.

Papanack Zoo last sparked public outrage in February, 2016 when the owners gunned down a lion named Zeus who escaped from his cage.

The video footage was shot by a whistleblower who worked at Papanack Zoo, approximately an hour east of Ottawa.

The graphic footage shows:

  • A zoo manager describing how he trained a lion cub by repeatedly hitting the baby animal in the face.
  • Baby animals, including a baby cougar and baby fox, stolen away from their mothers so they can be handled by the public and used as selfie props.
  • A raccoon, skunk, and bobcat prodded and forced to pose in a photo shoot for the reality show ‘Billy Goes North.’ The raccoon and skunk have their mouths forced and held open with a cord by zoo management.
  • Zoo management stating that several Père David deers (extinct in the wild) broke their necks after running into the fence of their enclosure.
  • Animals engaged in repetitive, stereotypic behaviours such as pacing and rocking, including a spider monkey, baby coyote, and several large cats.

Ontario has become the roadside zoo capital of Canada because it is the only province that does not license or regulate zoos. Any person can confine wild animals in a public zoo or private menagerie without obtaining a license, following zoo-specific standards, or submitting to government oversight. Unlike other provinces, there is no way for the Ontario government to shut down a zoo no matter how disturbing the conditions might be for the animals unwillingly kept in captivity.

“This video shows that vulnerable animals endure appalling conditions at Papanack Zoo,” said lawyer Camille Labchuk, executive director of Animal Justice. “Public opinion is rapidly turning against confining animals for entertainment, yet the government continues to leave animals out in the cold. Even a hairstylist needs a license to operate in Ontario, yet anyone can open up a zoo without a license or government oversight. Animal Justice is calling on the Ontario government to introduce a comprehensive zoo licensing regime to protect animals from some of the worst forms of captive cruelty, and ensure that abusive zoos and aquariums can be shut down when appropriate.”

There has been significant public outrage over Ontario’s failure to regulate zoos after a Crown prosecutor in Niagara Falls withdrew animal cruelty charges against Marineland this week. Animal cruelty charges against Bowmanville Zoo owner Michael Hackenberger were also withdrawn earlier this year, and the Bowmanville Zoo has since re-opened under a new name.

Animal Justice is also calling on Country Music Television to cancel future airings of Billy Goes North, a highly-staged ‘reality’ TV show starring ‘exterminator’ Billy Bretherton.


Fast facts:

  • Ontario is the only province that does not license or regulate zoos. Other provinces typically require zoos be licensed or permitted for some or all aspects of their operations, and adhere to zoo-specific standards.
  • There are no legal rules or animal welfare standards for the use of animals in film and entertainment, such as TV and film productions.
  • A 2015 Insights West poll found that half of Canadians oppose keeping animals in zoos and aquariums.

A compilation of footage prepared by Animal Justice is available here.

Broadcast quality footage and images are available upon request.

Animal Justice is encouraging the public to ask the Ontario government to license and regulate zoos at the following advocacy page.

For more information, contact:

Camille Labchuk
Executive Director

Animal Justice

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Dog Abused on Winnipeg Film Set, Animal Justice Files Animal Cruelty Complaint

Animal Justice January 18, 2017

WINNIPEG – National animal law organization Animal Justice filed animal cruelty complaints with authorities on Wednesday after disturbing video footage revealed animal abuse on the set of the film “A Dog’s Purpose.” The footage was apparently shot near Winnipeg, Manitoba in November of 2015.

The video, first revealed on the website TMZ, shows the filmmakers forcing a German Shepherd dog into turbulent water. The distressed dog fights to stay out of the water by repeatedly clawing at the edge of the pool. A subsequent shot shows the dog submerged under the water. A voice can be heard yelling, “Cut it”, and then handlers finally move to pull the dog out of the water. According to TMZ, at least one crew member was extremely disturbed by the dog’s treatment.

Animal Justice has filed complaints with the Winnipeg Humane Society, the Chief Veterinary Office of Manitoba, and the Winnipeg Police, alleging violations of federal and provincial animal protection laws.

“Throwing a terrified German Shepherd into rushing water is blatant animal cruelty,” said Camille Labchuk, a lawyer and executive director of Animal Justice. “It is illegal to inflict suffering and anxiety onto animals, and there is no loophole that lets Hollywood moviemakers get away with abusing animals on a film set. The filmmakers should face animal cruelty charges for their disturbing abuse of this German Shepherd.”

The use of animals in films is almost completely unregulated in Canada. There is no mandatory monitoring of animal use on film sets, leaving animals vulnerable to sickening abuse in the name of entertainment industry profits.

Forcing animals to perform in the entertainment industry is increasingly considered inhumane and unnecessary. Animal spectacles such as Ringling Bros. circus and the Bowmanville Zoo outside Toronto are shutting down for good, citing poor attendance. Animal Justice is calling on consumers to boycott “A Dog’s Purpose” and other films that still use real animals.


For more information, contact:

Camille Labchuk
Executive Director

Animal Justice

544 total views, 1 today

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