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The Ottawa Animal Advocate

The Embarrassing Reality of Ontario’s Zoos

Big kitty in zoo

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.

It Didn't Have to Come to This

Coyote crossing a road

This month, it was reported that three coyotes were euthanized as a part of the City of Ottawa’s wildlife management operation in Riverside Park South. With the coyotes killed, the city announced that the operation was complete.

This was one of the worst possible outcomes, and will not prevent future encounters between humans and coyotes. In fact, it’s likely to result in more deaths and injury.

With the news that coyotes have been killed, residents may feel comfortable allowing their cats to roam and having their dogs off-leash. It is only a matter of time before new coyotes move into the area, another pet dies, and more coyotes are killed.

Short-term fixes will not solve the long-term problem. Construction and development continue to impede on coyotes’ natural habitat, and coyotes are forced into urban areas. The best solution is to invest in habitat protection and natural deterrents such as barring access to food sources near humans.

To keep pets safe, keep a close eye on your pets while they are outside. Never let your cat roam freely. Keep her inside or on a secure leash and harness, and keep your dog on a non-retractable leash when walking outside.

On November 15, nearly a dozen new city councillors were sworn into office. Reach out to your city councillor. Let them know that we need to prioritize the prevention of coyote encounters not by trapping and euthanizing, but by protecting their natural habitat.

Homes for the Overlooked and Forgotten 

Someone sleeping on a couch with a dog

A lot of animals come in and out of the shelter each day. But there are some animals who are often overlooked. Animals who are older, or those who are haunted by medical or behavioural difficulties from their past. Senior and special needs animals are yearning for a home where they can love you forever.

The term special needs can describe a dog who needs in-depth training, a cat who must eat a certain type of food, or a rabbit who has a medical issue that has been resolved but has the possibility for flare-ups.

Special needs animals are just that: special. They have a special type of unconditional love reserved for people who see past their label or age and give them a second chance.

The next time you’re looking for a new furry companion, don’t overlook the oft-forgotten. You never know if you’ll find your perfect match.


Homeless and Vulnerable Animals Need YOU

Gusteau the cat resting on someones shoulder

Every day, a homeless and vulnerable animal needs help. You can help Gusteau and animals like him. 

Gusteau, a sweet two-year-old cat, was found lost and alone. Luckily, he was brought to the OHS. Although he was very calm when he arrived and had no visible wounds, it quickly became clear that Gusteau wasn’t bearing any weight on his left back leg — indicating something was wrong. 

X-rays showed that poor Gusteau had fractured his leg. OHS veterinarians acted fast to place a cast on his leg. Gusteau is now recovering incredibly well. Once his recovery journey is complete, he will be ready to find his forever home. 

Will you give sweet Gusteau a second chance at life? Your gift today will ensure that Gusteau and other homeless, injured animals like him receive the medical treatment, love and compassion they desperately need.

Responsible Pet Tip of the Month


Thank You for Supporting Ottawa's Animals!


Max is grateful for you. This sweet eight-year-old Maltese arrived at the OHS in terrible pain and unable to pass stool.

After a thorough assessment and temporary pain management treatment, he was able to receive a life-saving hernia repair surgery. Max has spent several weeks recovering with the love and care of an experienced foster volunteer and will soon be ready to find his forever home. 

Thanks to your PAW monthly gift, Max has the special food and extra attention he needs while waiting for his perfect fit. Thank you for being a hero to animals like Max every day of the year!

Thank you to our sponsors:
Science Diet
Ottawa Citizen

Ottawa Humane Society

Ottawa Humane Society
245 West Hunt Club Rd, Ottawa, ON K2E 1A6 |
Imagine Canada
Humane Canada Leader


The Standards Program Trustmark is a mark of Imagine Canada used under licence by the Ottawa Humane Society.

The Humane Canada Accreditation Program mark is a licenced mark of Humane Canada used under licence by the Ottawa Humane Society.

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