In Ontario, there is no provincial legislation to govern who can own exotic animals like lions and tigers, and Ontario is the only province in the country without this legislation.
It is up to municipalities to create and enforce rules about exotic animals. This has resulted in a patchwork of varying restrictions throughout the province and suffering for animals and people alike.
In Southern Ontario, Mark and Tammy Drysdale's collection of exotic animals is a prime example of the issues caused by Ontario's lax approach. Over the past few years, the Drysdales have shuttled from township to township as each municipality created by-laws that prevented ownership of these animals.
The lack of consistent oversight resulted in a fatal consequence last summer as four lions killed and ate a tiger — all under ownership by the Drysdales. Provincial Animal Welfare Services investigated the incident and charged the Drysdales with animal cruelty. Shockingly, the Drysdales were allowed to voluntarily relocate the four lions involved in the attack.
The province has shunned any responsibility related to the relocation of the four lions. It is unclear if the province even knows where the big cats have gone.
This lazy approach to animal welfare has killed a tiger, left municipalities to cobble together their own legislation, and has saddled the entire population of Ontario with a frightening question: where are the lions?
Provincial legislation for exotic animals is long overdue in Ontario, and you can make a difference. Contact the Ministry of the Solicitor General and demand change for animals throughout Ontario.