Greater Vancouver Zoo failing its animals, report finds
VANCOUVER -- The Greater Vancouver Zoo is taking heat for the way it houses its animals.
A new report by Zoocheck has found the facility's "small," "barren" enclosures are detrimental to the creatures being kept in captivity.
Zoocheck is "one of the key organizations that monitors zoos across Canada," according to Peter Fricker of the Vancouver Humane Society, which commissioned the report.
Researchers went to the zoo and studied the animals' living conditions as well as their behaviour, penning a 40-page report.
Fricker said the findings were exactly what he expected.
“The animals are showing signs of suffering from boredom and frustration due to captivity,” Fricker told CTV News.
He said the animals' enclosures are preventing them from engaging in natural behaviours such as climbing, foraging or digging.
“You need to keep changing their habitat in order to get the kind of stimulation they were to get in the wild," he said.
Some of that could be mitigated if zookeepers buried food and scents for the animals to search for, Fricker said - but he’s also concerned about B.C.’s cold, wet weather.
“There are many animals at the zoo that are not suited to B.C.’s climate. For example, giraffes. Giraffes just do not belong on the West coast of Canada," he said.
The report also cites concerns about the raptor exhibit, saying the enclosures give the birds little or no space to fly.
Fricker would like to see the Greater Vancouver Zoo adopt new technology like augmented reality to keep animals in the wild.
“Times have changed and zoos need to change with them. They need to stop putting animals on show for entertainment and get involved in real conservation programs,” said Fricker.
CTV News reached out to the Greater Vancouver Zoo for comment, but was told no one was available to respond.
Regular visitors of the zoo said they feel the animals are well taken care of.
“I think they’re fine. I think they already took away the animals that need the big space, like the elephants need the open areas. But I feel like all the other animals though have pretty big enclosures,” said Celeste Esau, an annual pass holder.
She brings her kids to the zoo several times of year because she feels it’s important to teach them about animals.
“The enclosures are small, but compared to what we’ve seen in Mexico, these are amazing. The animals should be in the wild, but they’re not,” said Steve Shore, another zoo-goer.
He brought his young grandchildren for the same reason: education.
“We certainly think that people should think twice before they go to any zoo or any facility that keeps animals captive for the sake of entertainment,” said Fricker.
The Vancouver Humane Society is urging the zoo to stop bringing in exotic animals and instead become a sanctuary for local species.