Discovery Wildlife Park: Public Safety & Conservation Outreach Must Change

OTTAWA: January 21, 2018: Canada’s Accredited Zoos and Aquariums (CAZA) is disappointed to see a video created by Discovery Wildlife Park in Alberta displaying a bear eating ice cream at a drive-thru.

“We understand that the video was created with intentions to bring awareness to grizzly bear conservation efforts, and what to do should the public see a bear in the wild,” said Dr. Susan Shafer, Executive Director at Canada’s Accredited Zoos and Aquariums.  “Unfortunately the manner in which Discovery Wildlife Park chose to do so posed some serious questions with respect to the health and safety of both the public and bear in question.”

Although Discovery Wildlife Park is not an accredited institutional member of CAZA, CAZA has reached out to them to offer assistance and information about CAZA’s standards on appropriate conservation messaging and use of animals in educational programming.

Accreditation with CAZA is a voluntary process. Zoological facilities accredited by CAZA are required to meet CAZA’s standards and policies and are held to strict ethics and compliance measures when issues arise.

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.  CAZA’s 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.

As an investigation is currently underway by Alberta Environment and Parks, CAZA will not be commenting further.

About CAZA

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.

For More Information

Ashley Street

Manager, Research and Public Affairs

Canada’s Accredited Zoos and Aquariums

Tel: 613-878-0274

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