OTTAWA: November 28, 2017 – Canada’s Accredited Zoos and Aquariums (CAZA) was troubled to learn of an event held at the Fleur de Lys shopping centre in Quebec City that displayed a number of exotic animals – including a two-month lion cub – for visitors to view and touch. This practice, if not professionally managed, has serious implications for the health and safety of animals and the public; poses severe animal welfare concerns; and highlights the necessity for stronger regulatory and enforcement measures in Quebec to manage exotic animals.
The desire to interact with exotic animals is growing, and without stricter legislative measures to address these issues, road-side zoos and circus-style events such as the one at Fleur de Lys, will continue to thrive at the expense of the animals’ wellbeing, and safety of a public who is not aware of the dangers of interacting with exotic species.
The current regulatory environment lends itself to a system where permits are provided to individuals and organizations that lack the necessary expertise in animal welfare. Compounding this problem is that enforcement measures are applied inconsistently across the province. Out of the many zoological operations, in the province of Quebec only 7 are accredited by CAZA. These institutions are filling regulatory gaps in the Provincial system through a voluntary commitment to internationally recognized animal welfare standards rooted in science and ethics.
CAZA has requested a meeting with the Minister responsible to discuss the ramifications of exotic animals being displayed, and made to interact with the public without effective government oversite or expertise that can only currently be obtained in the province through CAZA accreditation.
CAZA’s animal welfare standards are being recognized and enforced across other provinces in the country. Just this month, the Government of New Brunswick demonstrated leadership on this issue by tabling legislation which imposes stricter measures to ensure that those who choose to care for exotic animals are adhering to CAZA’s internationally recognized best practices in animal welfare and public safety.
We encourage the Government of Quebec to follow their lead.
CAZA is a private not-for-profit organization representing the leading zoological parks and aquariums in Canada. Our organization promotes the continuing evolution of Canadian zoos and aquariums as ethical agencies of learning and engagement, conservation, and science, and is the leading animal welfare organization in Canada responsible for establishing and enforcing animal welfare standards.
CAZA supports the appropriate use of program animals as an important and powerful educational tool in enhancing affective messages about species survival, wildlife, and animal welfare. However, our Policy on the Use of Animals in Educational Programming requires accredited facilities to adhere to strict guidelines on:
- Free Choice: The animal must have the ability to remove themselves from the program if they choose to do so.
- Wellbeing: The animal must not be subject to any form undue stress and must be provided housing and transportation which meets their physical, social and psychological needs.
- Natural Behaviours and Messaging: The animal must on display behaviours they would exhibit in the wild, and all educational messaging must reflect truthful information about their natural behaviours.
- Human/Animal Interaction: The health and safety of both visitors and the animal must be assessed at all times.
- Enrichment: Staff must ensure that the program animal receives appropriate and frequent enrichment opportunities.
- Staff Training: All staff handling program animals must adhere to procedures for reporting injuries, visitor management, reducing the risk of transmission of zoonotic disease, and appropriate personal behavior.
- Record Keeping and Emergency Protocols: Accurate documentation and availability of records must be made available. An emergency protocol must be in place for all animals involved in programming.
For More Information:
Manager, Research and Public Affairs
Canada’s Accredited Zoos and Aquariums