Friday, July 07, 2006

Canadian Zoos Under Fire for Animal Neglect and Abuse

The cruelty of zoos easily crosses borders.


Animal rights groups criticize B.C., Ont. zoos

Updated Thu. Jul. 6 2006 11:41 PM ET News Staff

The Greater Vancouver Zoo is again under investigation by the British Columbia Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, following the death of a baby giraffe.

The eight-day-old calf died on June 29, but the zoo waited until Wednesday to announce the death. A post mortem on the calf showed it succumbed from pneumonia and fractured ribs, suffered when the mother accidentally stepped on the animal after birth.

"She actually charged towards the baby, and one of the keepers dove in and rescued the giraffe from getting hit straight in the head," zoo spokeswoman Jody Henderson told CTV Vancouver. "Instead, though, the calf got hit in the ribs."

Zoo keepers and veterinarian Dr. Bruce Burton were able to revive the calf. But after eight days the animal's condition worsened, and workers rushed it to a veterinary hospital.

"How she lived eight days, let alone improved during that time, was unimaginable, given the trauma she experienced at birth and can only be attributed to the continuous support and dedicated care provided by the keepers and staff at the Greater Vancouver Zoo," said Burton in a press release.

But the SPCA said Thursday it wants to know whether the calf's 18-year-old mother was too old to breed, and if the zoo brought in the veterinarian in time.

"We would be hoping to speak with staff that were in attendance at the birth, zoo officials, and of course with the veterinarian," said Eileen Drever of the SPCA.

The same day the calf died, the zoo moved its hippopotamus Hazina into her new home.

The SPCA had earlier accused the zoo of neglecting Hazina, alleging the hippo lived in a temporary enclosure with a pool so shallow she couldn't float, causing strain on her legs and joints.

The zoo was charged with two counts of cruelty to animals, though officials denied the allegations, calling the charges "ridiculous."

Ontario zoo defends kangaroo enclosure

Meanwhile, another animal rights group has accused an Ontario zoo as being one of the worst in the country, alleging a cage housing a kangaroo is far too small.

The Lickety Split Ranch & Zoo denied the charge, and told The Canadian Press that people should "come down and see for themselves" how the kangaroo is being treated.

The World Society for the Protection of Animals said Tyson the kangaroo can jump as far as three metres, but the animal's cage measures just three metres by two-and-a-half metres.

WSPA campaigns officer Melissa Tkachyk compared Tyson's situation to Hazina's temporary shelter.

"Hazina had no room to swim; Tyson has no room to hop," Tkachyk alleged in a press release. "While Hazina has moved to a bigger exhibit with a larger pool, Tyson will likely live out the rest of his captive life in the same small enclosure because the Ontario government refuses to put laws in place to protect exotic animals."

The WSPA also alleged Ontario's Greenview Aviaries Park and Zoo and Pineridge Zoo have substandard conditions for their animals.

Ontario has "more roadside zoos ... than any other jurisdiction in the country," according to the WSPA. The group is calling for tougher regulations to prevent people from housing wild animals in substandard enclosures.

With a report by CTV Vancouver's Michele Brunoro and files from The Canadian Press

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