POLL: Should roadside zoos be closed down?

POLL: Should roadside zoos be closed down?

Disturbing new undercover footage of a zoo in Canada exposes heartbreaking abuses. The footage has spurred outrage and has led to calls for change.

The video, which was released by Animal Justice, was taken at the Papanack Zoo in Ontario by a whistleblower who worked there. It brought to light a number of heartbreaking issues from appalling conditions animals live in, blatant cruelty and abusive training techniques, inadequate enclosures and lack of enrichment for a number of species.

It also exposes ties to the entertainment industry, showing resident animals being cruelly exploited, and dispels the myths about how zoos are contributing to conservation.

POLL: Should roadside zoos be closed down?
Photo credit: Animal Justice/YouTube

Sadly, this isn’t the first time this zoo has come under fire for egregious mistreatment of animals. Last February, it stirred protests following an incident where a lion escaped, and was fatally shot by the zoo’s owner. Unfortunately, that incident is just another that highlights how ill-equipped both facilities and law enforcement are to deal with situations like that, which pose a serious threat to the public, and a usually deadly one for escapees.

Still, even before that incident, this facility has been on the radar of former employees, animal advocates and other animal advocacy organizations, including Zoocheck Canada, for years. As Animal Justice points out, many of the issues are related to the fact that there are no regulations or licensing requirements for zoos in Ontario, which has led it to become “the roadside zoo capital of Canada.”

The Ontario SPCA has launched an investigation into this case for violations of provincial animal welfare laws, but it doesn’t have the authority to shut the Papanack Zoo down. Unfortunately, not only do the lack of any meaningful standards, regulations or licenses leave animals to suffer in questionable conditions, it means there’s also virtually no way for the government to shut it, or other problem zoos, down either.

Even when cruelty charges are filed, there isn’t always justice. We just saw 11 animal cruelty charges against Marineland dropped, while other cases go nowhere. The Bowmanville Zoo finally closed after an undercover investigation exposed abuse of tigers, but it has already reopened as the Clarington Family Outdoor Adventure Park and is being run by one of the Bowmanville Zoo’s former co-owners. Just months later, it’s already under fire for exploiting lion cubs as photo props.

The good news is that this investigation has helped incite more calls for change to protect captive animals.

“Public opinion is rapidly turning against confining animals for entertainment, yet the government continues to leave animals out in the cold. Even a hairstylist needs a license to operate in Ontario, yet anyone can open up a zoo without a license or government oversight. Animal Justice is calling on the Ontario government to introduce a comprehensive zoo licensing regime to protect animals from some of the worst forms of captive cruelty, and ensure that abusive zoos and aquariums can be shut down when appropriate,” said lawyer Camille Labchuk, executive director of Animal Justice.


Please sign and share the petition urging Minister of Community Safety & Correctional Services in Ontario to crack down on this problem by creating some meaningful standards for animals in captivity.

For more on this investigation, updates and ways to help, check out Animal Justice.

This article was first published by Care2.com on

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Should roadside zoos be closed down?

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Editorial Comment: The purpose of this poll is to highlight important wildlife conservation issues and to encourage discussion on ways to stop wildlife crime. By leaving a comment and sharing this post you can help to raise awareness. Thank you for your support.


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