OTTAWA – January 20, 2018: Next week the City of Sault Ste. Marie will take unprecedented steps to bulldoze a set of new bylaws through Council which will set back animal welfare protections to a bygone era, and put the public safety of local residents at risk.
Despite City officials publically stating that staff do not have the expertise available to make decisions about what constitutes appropriate welfare for the animals in Sault Ste. Marie, they have commissioned their wisdom regardless to put forth a recommendation to ban zoos completely in the municipality without concern for the ramifications to the animals who depend on their keepers and government to employ responsible welfare standards.
This feeble attempt to resolve an issue of staff proficiency has left zoological facilities and animal welfare societies with an unprecedented dilemma of what to do with the animals currently in their care. CAZA has been advised that many of the animals affected by the proposed changes are too old to be moved – leaving no other choice but to be euthanized. For those animals that are able to be moved, consideration has not been given to the dangers imposed to residents who reside in close proximity. The proposed bylaw also ignores the troubling reality of the exotic animal black market trade which will thrive in a regulatory environment without standards, oversight or enforcement.
One would reasonably assume that if you lack the resources and expertise to make decisions on an important matter such as animal welfare, that expert and scientific opinion available through credible animal welfare organizations would be included in a consultative process. An inclusive consultative process is a custom that is historically celebrated and enshrined in legislation across governments. However, CAZA was not consulted on the proposed bylaw on zoos or its potential ramifications – despite being told our input would be welcomed.
Those who care for animals in captivity have a significant responsibility to ensure that their welfare is a priority. CAZA strongly believes that if a zoological facility cannot uphold international best practices in animal welfare, organizational management, and veterinary care that their ability to hold animals in captivity should be questioned. It is for this reason that CAZA offered to travel to Sault Ste. Marie to conduct an independent assessment of zoological facilities in the municipality. An offer that was never accepted nor acknowledged despite CAZA’s network of researchers, welfare experts, veterinarians, and ethicists.
To make rash decisions without scientific or ethical reflection as City staff has done equates government officials no better than those who choose not to care for the animals they have chosen to keep. This decision appears to have been made based on ideology and bureaucratic complacency as opposed to a genuine desire to protect animals and the public.
CAZA urges the local community to join us in pressing City Council to consider the harm they will impose to the animals in Sault Ste. Marie without properly consulting with animal welfare experts, and urge for meaningful standards creation which protects the animals that cannot protect themselves.
Founded in 1975, CAZA is the leading animal welfare standards development organization in Canada. Its standards development process includes expert opinion from researchers, biologists, and academia to ensure that our standards reflect the latest in animal welfare research, organizational management, and public safety protocols. Through a science-based approach, CAZA’s standards bridge the ethical concerns regarding zoos and aquariums, and are currently the only pan-Canada set of standards mandating zoological facilities in the country. Out of hundreds of zoos in Canada, only 31 have received CAZA accreditation through independent inspection.
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Canada’s Accredited Zoos and Aquariums