The inter-provincial trade of non-native wildlife in Canada is largely unmonitored, while Ontario’s zoo regulations continue to fail animals and the public–WAPC

TORONTO, ON–World Animal Protection Canada and the Toronto Zoo are relieved to hear the kangaroo that escaped handlers during transport to the Oshawa Zoo, has been found safe.

The same cannot be said for the several that went missing from Waddles’n’Wags in Eganville over a month ago.

“These recent incidents highlight the major gaps in laws and regulations of captive wildlife. Whether it is about inter-provincial wildlife trade, which is federal jurisdiction, or the thousands of captive wild animals at Ontario’s roadside zoos, animals are left unprotected” said Michèle Hamers, Wildlife Campaign Manager for World Animal Protection Canada. “Because there is no oversight, we have no idea where this kangaroo came from, whether the animal was transported in suitable conditions, the vaccination status of the animal, or any requirements for facilities accepting the animal, even temporarily.”

The Oshawa Zoo is an unregulated facility and was one of the 11 zoos profiled in the 2022 World Animal Protection investigation Nothing New at the Zoo. A complaint was sent to the PAWS inspectorate over basic standards of care at the facility.

“We are grateful the kangaroo has been found safe and this incident highlights how there are far too many private owners and unaccredited facilities operating in our communities. These sites often do not have adequate systems and training in place to ensure animal wellbeing and welfare. As an AZA accredited not-for-profit organization, your Toronto Zoo believes in our responsibility to meet and exceed animal wellbeing standards. This is a clear example of how many animals are falling through the cracks and end up in harm’s way,” added Dolf DeJong, CEO of the Toronto Zoo. “We strongly urge the Government of Ontario to enforce the existing and further strengthen regulations to truly protect exotic animals currently in unaccredited roadside zoos and in private ownership. This is the right thing to do to improve the quality of care for these animals and in the interest of public health and safety.”

With no government agency responsible for the tracking and oversight of the movement of captive non-native wildlife across the country, World Animal Protection polling found there are an estimated 1.4-million non-native wild animals kept as pets across the country, with nearly 600,000 in Ontario, the highest of any province or territory.

In Ontario, it’s largely up to municipalities to regulate roadside zoos, with only half having regulations of any kind. Oshawa’s own by-laws prohibit kangaroos being kept, unless it’s a municipally-run zoo, which raises questions around the kangaroos at the Oshawa Zoo and the trade of these animals.

Both World Animal Protection and the Toronto Zoo have been advocating for the Government of Ontario to overhaul the captive wildlife system and are staunch supporters of the Jane Goodall Act, currently before the Senate which would significantly restrict the ownership of wild animals in Canada and lead to the end of most under-regulated substandard zoos (also known as roadside zoos) in Canada.

World Animal Protection has been investigating roadside zoos across Canada, campaigning for stronger regulations for over two decades. This includes banning the private ownership of wild animals and tightening regulations that would result in the phasing out of roadside zoos, keeping only those facilities that can meet the highest animal welfare and public safety standards.

The Toronto Zoo’s mission is to connect people, animals and conservation science to fight extinction and our vision is a world where wildlife and wild spaces thrive.

An iconic tourist attraction and Conservation organization, the Toronto Zoo boasts a number of leading programs for helping wildlife and their natural habitats – from species reintroduction to reproductive research. A world-class educational centre for people of all ages, the Toronto Zoo is open every day including December 25 and attracts approximately 1.2 million guests each year.

Toronto Zoo is accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). The Zoo has also achieved the Canadian Council on Animal Care (CCAC) Certificate of Good Animal Practice® and is inspected by the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA).

Previous post

McDonald's Canada Forecasts a Flurry of Gratitude This Holiday Season

Next post

National Volunteer Action Strategy Launch

The Editor

The Editor