Animal Justice is urging the town of Kearney, Ontario to disallow a proposed new roadside animal attraction confining bears and cheetahs. Keeping wild animals in captivity is wrong—for spectators, it’s a moment of pleasure, but for the animals, it’s a life sentence. Captivity deprives animals of everything that makes life worth living, causing serious physical… Read more » Animal Justice
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VANCOUVER – The Vancouver Aquarium announced today that it would give up on its decades-long fight to continue to imprison and display whales and dolphins in tiny tanks.
Camille Labchuk, a lawyer and executive director of Animal Justice, issued the following statement.
“The Vancouver Aquarium appears to have finally accepted that whale and dolphin captivity is no longer socially acceptable in Canada. Today’s announcement is a tremendous victory for the thousands of compassionate citizens who stood up against the cruel practice of keeping smart, sentient whales and dolphins imprisoned in tiny tanks.
“But the Aquarium’s new position comes extremely late in the game. For decades, the Aquarium has fought tooth and nail against attempts to restrict or prohibit whale and dolphin captivity at its facility. The Aquarium is now backing down from this fight, but only after years of being the target of protests, being embroiled in lawsuits, and hit with a ban on cetacean captivity imposed by Vancouver’s Park Board.
“The writing is on the wall for the whale and dolphin captivity industry. We are relieved that no more cetaceans will suffer and die at the Aquarium.”
The Aquarium is still suing the Park Board in an attempt to overturn the anti-captivity by-law, claiming it restricts the Aquarium’s freedom of expression. Animal Justice and Zoocheck intervened in that case, which has already been heard. The judge in that case is expected to issue a ruling shortly.
A bill moving through the Canadian Senate would impose a nation-wide ban on keeping whales and dolphins in captivity. It is expected to be voted on when Parliament resumes later this month.
Meanwhile, several whales and dolphins recently died at the Aquarium, including beluga whales Qila and Aurora in late 2016, porpoise Daisy in June, 2017, and false killer whale Chester in November, 2017. The only surviving cetacean at the Aquarium is a Pacific white-sided dolphin named Helen.
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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.
- 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.
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on Feb. 25th, we brought into care eight new faces. One was injured and had to be rushed to veterinary care, but the others are settling nicely into their foster homes and learning their new routines. Over the course of the next 2-3 weeks, we will learn a lot about them - their quirks and
Hello SCARS, Thought we'd take a moment and let you know Bowie has settled in, is well loved by staff, and loves greeting customers as they come into the greenhouse. He's quite the talkative boy and is already telling us what to do. Bowie is a great Ambassador, Therapist and Mouser Extraordinaire (at least
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Animal and Pet News
Animal and Pet News
Hello SCARS, Both of these dogs are foster fails. On the left is Lucy, now nine, found at a northern dump with four pups in the summer of 2012. She was a very young mom and treated them a bit like squeaky toys. She even busted everyone out of the enclosure and nearly drowned two
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