Wednesday, 9 May 2007

roadside zoos are not animal sanctuaries


Dear NAfA member,

The Exotic Animal Refuge Sanctuary (TEARS), has applied to the Regional Municipality of Niagara to build a public display facility in Thorold at the corner of Kottmeier and Holland Roads.

After reviewing documents submitted to the planning department by the applicants, it is our opinion (and the opinions of Zoocheck Canada and WSPA) that the proposed facility is NOT in the best interest of animals.

TEARS, formerly known as Kris’ Reptiles (an exotic animal pet shop in St. Catharines), has previously displayed their animals at various public venues, including air shows and parades, to raise money for the sanctuary. It is now their intention to keep a number of large animals, such as lions, tigers and primates, and several reptile and bird species, at the Thorold location for public display and breeding purposes.

In a statement by TEARS, the facility would be open to the general public, tourists and special interest groups for a “donation” and the animals would be bred so “our great grandchildren can enjoy these animals and not just be seeing them in books.” TEARS also plans to provide animals for “TV commercials, movies and special promotions…a very lucrative market we are currently involved with.”

This sounds more like a for-profit roadside zoo, than a non-profit animal sanctuary. True animal sanctuaries are not open to the public, they do not engage in captive breeding programs and they don’t rent their animals out for film and television work.

For example, the Donkey Sanctuary of Canada, states on its website that “The DSC does not buy, sell or breed donkeys, mules or hinnies.” At The Elephant Sanctuary in Hohenwald, Tennessee, elephants “are not required to perform or entertain for the public; instead, they are encouraged to live like elephants. As a true sanctuary, The Elephant Sanctuary is not intended to provide entertainment.” The Elephant Sanctuary is closed to the public, relying on interactive video and multimedia computer technology, as well as wildlife documentary films and other outreach programs to educate children.

We need you to write letters to the Mayor and the Region asking them to reject TEARS’ application to open up a roadside zoo in Thorold. Some concerns you may want to address (keep it simple – only one or two points) include (in your own words please):

1) Close-up and “hands on” interactions with potentially dangerous animals jeopardizes public safety. Disease transmission is also a concern when humans come into contact with wild animals, especially primates, which can carry diseases fatal to humans. An animal escaping its enclosure also puts the community at risk (escapes are common at even the most established zoos).

2) Exhibits are often far too small to meet the animals’ physical and behavioural needs. Insufficient space can also be frustrating for animals that have adapted to living in large, open areas. Inappropriate social arrangements can also be detrimental to the animals’ mental well-being. Naturally social animals, like primates, are often kept isolated while solitary animals, such as tigers, are forced to live with others. .

3) Children today are learning about the importance of animals in their natural habitats and ecosystems. Seeing animals in cages does little to educate children about the animals’ natural lives, and undermines what they learn in the classroom.

4) Putting animals on display for human entertainment reinforces the belief that animals are here to serve our needs and desires. This ideology ignores the groundbreaking work of scientists like Dr. Jane Goodall, who recognize that animals are thinking, feeling individuals deserving of our respect and compassion.

5) Real sanctuaries do not keep their animals confined to cages, or breed and exploit animals for financial gain. True conservation efforts include preserving the species’ natural habitat and reintroducing animals to the wild. If there is no reintroduction program, then captive breeding only benefits the exotic pet trade industry.

Send your letters to:

Mayor Henry D’Angela
City of Thorold
3540 Schmon Parkway, P.O. Box 1044
Thorold, ON
L2V 4V7

Peter Colosimo
Senior Planner
Planning and Development Department
Regional Municipality of Niagara
2201 St. David’s Road, P.O. Box 1042
Thorold, ON
L2V 4T7

Ms. Adele Arbour
Director of Planning & Building Services
Planning and Building Services Department
City of Thorold
3540 Schmon Parkway, P.O. Box 1044
Thorold, ON
L2V 4V7


Anonymous said...

Why did you post this after saying that TEARS was reputable and a great cause?

Kill Eat Exploit the Weak said...

My initial post about the group was overly optimistic it seems, but I made no claims about their reputation [note I said "hopefully" the animals go to reputable sanctuaries]. I simply shared what details I had about TEARS, taken straight from their flyer. The information I have received since then suggests that the group is motivated more by profit-seeking than concern for animals, so I shared that info as well.

Providing sanctuary for animals and educating people about animal welfare issues is a great cause. Exploiting animals for entertainment and profit is not.

I explain all this in a comment I added to my original post (see the January archive, under "endangered species project"). Please read it if you haven't already.