Ontario recently received a bad grade, and serious improvements are needed. World Animal Protection has released a report highlighting the inhumane conditions in Ontario's roadside zoos. The report looked at 11 zoos and zoo-type exhibits across the province, judging them on a set of criteria drawn from the Ontario Regulation 444/19: Standards of Care and Administrative Requirements. Some of these criteria include enclosure size, shelter and privacy, enrichment, socialization, and health and safety.
The results of this investigation, which catalogued site-specific cases of inadequate care, highlight what was already known: there is an urgent need for Ontario to regulate roadside zoos.
All zoos under review promoted interactive experiences with captive animals, including unsupervised animal feedings and access to enclosure barriers. Many of the zoos held animals in enclosures that were too small, had no privacy from visitors and lacked basic enrichment that would allow animals to express natural behaviours.
The report depicts the miserable existence wild animals in captivity face throughout the province. Failing to prioritize animal welfare also increases the risk of animal escape or attack.
Ontario is failing wild animals. Without province-wide licensing requirements, individual municipalities are left to self-regulate, creating an inconsistent patchwork of animal welfare standards across the province.
"Ontario is the last major jurisdiction in Canada that has not licensed or restricted the keeping or use of exotic wild animals in captivity", reported World Animal Protection. Ontario is falling embarrassingly behind the rest of Canada.
World Animal Protection has submitted the report to the government as an official complaint, hoping to urge further transparency and implement a licensing program for Ontario zoos. You can take action. Read the full report, contact your MPP, and raise your voice to demand more protections for animals in captivity.