Shocking video released by an animal rights group Friday appears to show the manager and the son of the owner of Papanack Zoo, near Ottawa, admitting to beating a lion cub for training purposes.
“This footage shot at the Papanack Zoo shows a number of very disturbing things, including baby animals ripped away from their mothers when they’re very young so they can be used as selfie props,” Camille Labchuk, executive director of Animal Justice, told Global News.
“It includes a zoo manager admitting to beating a baby lion for training purposes, it includes animals performing repetitive stereotypical behaviour.”
Global News reached out to the Zoo for comment, and while the owner invited our camera inside to film, no questions were answered.
Animal activist Michele Thorn watched the video and was moved to tears.
“These animals are living in horrible conditions and they don’t deserve this, there’s no excuse,” she said.
“I would like to see the Papanack Zoo shut down. I’d like the animals to go somewhere much nicer, like a sanctuary.”
WATCH: Video of Zoo manager calls into question state of Ontario zoo laws. Caryn Lieberman reports.
Thorn has protested against the zoo in question for years, and admitted she is against all zoos.
“Animals are not there to entertain us, to educate us,” she said. “It’s not their responsibility to be put in these conditions just for us to see them.”
But this is not the first time the Papanack Zoo has made headlines.
In February 2016, the owner’s husband shot and killed a 300-pound lion that escaped its enclosure.
Exactly how Zeus escaped was investigated, but his killing led to public outrage.
This latest video released by Animal Justice further reinforces calls by animal rights groups for tougher zoo regulation in the province.
“There’s a crisis of cruelty right now in Ontario zoos because the government does not regulate zoos in this province,” Labchuk said.
At Zoocheck in Toronto, Rob Laidlaw said he cannot even guess how many roadside zoos are in operation at any given time because there is no such thing as a zoo licence in the province.
“Ontario is by far the worst in Canada. Every other province has either policy in place or laws and regulations that address this problem,” he said, adding anyone can own and operate a zoo tomorrow in the province if they so choose.
“We don’t require a licence, we don’t need to go to school, we don’t need to have worked in a zoo and unless there’s a complaint nobody will ever probably come to look at us.”
A protest is planned outside Papanack Zoo on Saturday in the wake of Animal Justice’s undercover footage.