OTTAWA – August 17, 2017: Earlier today, the OSPCA released a statement calling for more regulation in Ontario for the keeping of exotic animals in zoological facilities. Canada’s Accredited Zoos and Aquariums (CAZA) unequivocally shares the concerns raised by the OSPCA regarding unaccredited facilities and roadside zoos in the absence of provincial regulation and meaningful enforcement measures.
As CAZA accreditation is currently voluntary, only 13 out of hundreds of zoos in Ontario are accredited by CAZA. CAZA’s animal welfare standards are reviewed annually based on international best practices in husbandry, veterinary care, enrichment, programming, and operational management. In order to be an accredited member of CAZA, not only must facilities meet these animal welfare standards, but must also demonstrate a meaningful commitment to conservation, research, rescue and rehabilitation, and education.
“We agree with the OSPCA that the days of menageries are over – we have advocated for this for years through CAZA’s accreditation program” said Dr. Susan Shafer, Executive Director at CAZA. “Similar to the model in British Columbia, CAZA is strongly advocating for the Government of Ontario to create regulations for the keeping of exotic animals which are reflective of the standards that CAZA accredited facilities are held to, including a tangible commitment to saving species, and educating visitors about how our actions can improve wildlife habitats in our own backyard and oceans.”
CAZA maintains a positive working relationship with the OSPCA to address issues of mutual concern, however we agree with the OSPCA that more expertise, and enforcement measures are required to address growing animal welfare concerns from unaccredited facilities and travelling zoos.
“The Ontario SPCA believes that animals on exhibit in zoos solely for commercial gain is an antiquated business model that must be stopped” said Connie Mallory, Chief Inspector at the OSPCA. The time to begin working towards this goal is now. We are pleased that we have a strong working relationship with CAZA that will allow us to work together to ensure our expectations and accreditation standards are clear for elected officials”.
In addition to better regulation and enforcement measures for zoological facilities in Ontario, CAZA is also advocating for improved oversite of exotic animals kept in private residences.
“The reality is, that there is a black market for the keeping of exotic animals in private residences” said Shafer, “currently the government has zero mandate to regularly inspect individuals that keep exotic animals, and who often have little knowledge on how to care for their needs.”
CAZA will continue to work with the OSPCA and the Government of Ontario directly to offer recommendations, and expertise in the areas of animal welfare, species conservation, research, and educational initiatives.
For more information please contact:
Ashley Street, Manager, Research and Public Affairs