Animal welfare group Humane Society International has just rescued over 200 wild animals from a roadside zoo in Canada. The confiscated animals include lions, tigers, zebras, bears, camels, monkeys, goats, and kangaroos.
Roadside zoos, also known as backyard zoos, are usually unaccredited and exploitative of the animals. They are money-making schemes that operate as tourist attractions, and they do not follow animal welfare regulations thus the animals are usually neglected. The owner of this specific zoo has been arrested and charged with criminal animal cruelty and neglect. He now faces a five-year prison sentence and the possibility of a lifetime ban from keeping any animal.
This particular roadside zoo has had a long history of animal welfare violations. In August 2018, when the Montreal SPCA performed an inspection of the facility, they found four dead animals including two tigers. The zoo continued in their neglect of animals and refused to bring the facility up to code, so the Quebec government finally ruled that all of the animals must be seized.
When the animals at this zoo were first found many of them were confined in barren, dilapidated enclosures. All of the animals were living in an inadequate shelter with minimal protection from the elements. Several of the animals did not have access to clean water or proper food.
Many rescued animals were suffering from a variety of medical conditions and were lacking veterinary care. All of them showed signs of significant psychological distress, including constant pacing and swaying. Social animals were kept in solitary confinement, and there was no enrichment in many of the enclosures.
Humane Society International is providing on-site care for all the animals and transporting them to their network of sanctuaries throughout Canada and the United States. Many of the animals are in desperate need of medical care, and they all need proper nutrition so that they can fully recover from neglect.
Since animals at roadside zoos are typically born in captivity, they cannot be returned to the wild. The best thing for them now is to make sure that they are placed in species-appropriate facilities that are as close as possible to their natural environments. Humane Society International will make sure that all of the rescued animals will be properly taken care of for the rest of their lives.
This rescue is reason to celebrate as the animals now have a much better chance to live happy and healthy in reputable sanctuaries. But there are still hundreds of roadside zoos around the world where wild animals suffer for tourist opportunities. Please remember to be a responsible traveller, do not visit roadside zoos. If you ever notice animal cruelty at a tourist attraction please contact the local Humane Society or SPCA.
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Image credit: Humane Society International
Article by Dobi Finley
Dobi Finley writes to bring more awareness to the plight of animals worldwide and to shine a light on the individuals and nonprofits who are on the front-lines every day fighting the good fight. With a goal to awaken sleeping hearts towards more compassion for animals, she strives to be a voice for all of those whose stories are yet to be told.