Squirrel monkeys from the Amazon Basin are among the animals on display at the Greater Vancouver Zoo in Aldergrove. A report released Monday (Dec. 30) by the Vancouver Humane Society said the zoo should move away from species ‘unsuited’ to the B.C. climate. (Langley Advance Times file)

Animals at B.C. zoo suffer ‘boredom and frustration,’ humane society says

Report calls on Metro Vancouver zoo to upgrade enclosures, stop housing animals ‘unsuited’ to B.C.

Many animals at the Greater Vancouver Zoo in Greater Vancouver are living in “barren, under-sized cages and enclosures that restrict them from engaging in natural behaviours,” according to a report released Monday (Dec. 30) by the Vancouver Humane Society.

It calls on the Aldergrove zoo to improve conditions for its animals and to move away from “keeping animals unsuited to B.C.’s climate.”

It was prepared for the society by Zoocheck, a Canadian-based international wildlife protection charity, based on “issues identified during three separate visits.”

In the report, Zoocheck noted there have been improvements since the charity began issuing reports on the Greater Vancouver Zoo beginning in 1997, stating the zoo seems to have made a number of “significant, very positive, changes” but adding “some longstanding issues remain problematic and should be addressed.”

“They include, but are not limited to, lack of space for certain species, lack of appropriate environmental conditions, lack of environmental and behavioural enrichment, lack of shelter and privacy areas, lack of proper social contexts, excess ground water and water logging of enclosure substrates.”

Vancouver Humane Society spokesperson Peter Fricker said the zoo doesn’t provide animals with a stimulating environment that allows natural activities such as climbing, foraging or digging.

“The main issue is a lack of enrichment,” Fricker told Black Press.

Given the amount of space available on the 120-acre site, Fricker said the zoo should build larger enclosures with more for animals to do, “to alleviate boredom and frustration.”

In the longer term, he said, the zoo needs to stop keeping captive animals for entertainment and move toward being a sanctuary for native wildlife.

Fricker said the the zoo’s giraffe enclosure hasn’t been changed since a 2003 Zoocheck report described it as “barren and lacking in any stimulation for the animals to engage in natural behaviours.”

In the new report, Zoocheck said that giraffes are not suited to B.C.s climate and suggested the zoo consider constructing a new, larger and climate-controlled enclosure or relocating the giraffes to a “more species-appropriate facility elsewhere.”

The report cites the zoo’s raptor exhibit as an example of an undersized enclosure that denies natural behaviours, because it provides “little or no ability for the birds to engage in flight.”

READ ALSO: Fraser Valley dashes for endangered species at the zoo

The Zoocheck report also found that reptiles were being kept in “very restricted circumstances” with “minimal” space.

The hippopotamus enclosure was criticized for “lacking any vegetation and or enrichment elements” and the indoor holding facility was described as “small and not suitable for the permanent keeping of these animals.”

The zoo’s lone red fox should be found a companion or be sent to a facility that can meet its social requirements, the report said.

Squirrel monkeys and coatimundi, it said, were in small enclosures and should be moved to more appropriate accommodation.

Fricker said the report was sent to the zoo, which did not respond.

“We would hope the zoo would pay attention,” Fricker commented.

Black Press has reached out to the Greater Vancouver Zoo for a response.

The zoo was called the Vancouver Game Farm when it first opened on Aug. 20, 1970, and operated as a family business by Pat Hines and his wife Ann, then their daughter Eleanor and husband Hugh Oakes until it was sold to new owners in 1991.

The Game Farm then became known as the Greater Vancouver Zoological Centre, adding new animal enclosures, the miniature train, picnic park and other features.

In 1999, the name changed again to the Greater Vancouver Zoo.

It is the largest facility of its kind in B.C. and houses more than 140 wild and exotic animals including lions, a tiger, cheetah, giraffe and hippos.

It also contributes to conservation efforts on various fronts including work to build back the population of the spotted frog and the Western painted turtle.

READ ALSO: Zoo awarded for its restoration of the Salmon River

Over the years, the zoo has faced controversy over the untimely death of some giraffes and the treatment of one of its hippos.

An outdoor enclosure was built for the hippo, including a large pond, after the criticism.

There have been protests by animal rights activists at the zoo from time to time.



dan.ferguson@langleyadvancetimes.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

A giraffe at the Greater Vancouver Zoo in Aldergrove. A report released Monday (Dec. 30) by the Vancouver Humane Society said the giraffe enclosure has not been improved since a 2003 report that called it “barren and lacking in any stimulation.” (Langley Advance Times file)

Just Posted

BC SPCA team helps discover new feline virus after outbreak at Quesnel shelter

Fechavirus is a kind of parvovirus, which makes cats and kittens very sick

COVID-19 highlights lack of connectivity in First Nations communities

Many don’t have access required to utilize online platforms, says First Nations Technology Council

Commercial salmon fisheries delayed for Bella Coola area

DFO notice says Area C gill net fisheries in Area 8 have been delayed until June 15

Pacific Coastal won’t open until community is ready

The company has suspended operations until further notice

11 new COVID-19 cases in B.C. as top doc urges caution amid ‘encouraging’ low rates

Dr. Bonnie Henry also announced that two care home outbreaks would be declared over

Surrey mayor’s party under fire for ‘sickening’ tweet accusing northern B.C. RCMP of murder

Mayor Doug McCallum says tweet, Facebook post ‘sent out by unauthorized person’

Father’s Day Walk Run for prostate cancer will be virtual event this year throughout B.C.

The annual fundraiser for Prostate Cancer Foundation BC has brought in $2.5 million since 1999

Dr. Bonnie Henry announces official ban on overnight kids’ camps this summer

New ban comes after talking with other provincial health officials across the country, Henry says

Senior man in hospital after unprovoked wolf attack near Prince Rupert

Conservation officers are on site looking for the wolf

VIDEO: NASA astronauts blast off into space on SpaceX rocket

Marks NASA’s first human spaceflight launched from U.S. soil in nearly a decade

‘I knew what he wanted’: Kootenay man spends hours in tree as black bear patrols below

Francis Levasseur is no stranger to the outdoors, but a recent run-in with a bear caused quite a scare

PHOTOS: U.S. cities brace for increasing unrest over police killing of George Floyd

Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz has fully mobilized the state’s National Guard

$200,000 Maybach impounded after ‘L’ driver caught excessively speeding in Vancouver

Meanwhile, the supervisor sat in the passenger seat, police said

Most Read