A Quebec zoo owner is being charged with animal cruelty — a first in Canada, according to the Montreal SPCA.
This comes after a criminal investigation led by the animal welfare organization at the Saint-Édouard Zoo in Saint-Édouard-de-Maskinongé in Quebec’s Mauricie region, about 120 kilometres east of Montreal.
“Its owner, Norman Trahan, was placed under arrest and is facing two counts of animal cruelty and neglect,” the SPCA stated, adding that its animal protection officers have similar powers to police.
The incidents come under the Criminal Code, alleged to have taken place between May 2016 and October 2018.
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The SPCA said it visited the zoo in August 2018 and noted several alleged violations.
“We have begun inspecting the facilities with our veterinarian in order to assess the animals’ health, determine which individuals require urgent care and document their living conditions,” said Sophie Gaillard, lawyer and director of animal advocacy in charge of the operation.
“We will then begin transporting the seized animals to new housing facilities, where they will receive all the specialized care they require. Given the number of animals involved and the species we are dealing with, this is an extremely complex operation which could last several weeks.”
They seized two alpacas that were in bad shape and found four deceased animals, including two tigers.
About 100 other animals at the zoo, including lions, tigers, zebras, camels, kangaroos and bears, are being seized as part of an operation that started Tuesday morning.
“This is the first time in Quebec history that animal cruelty charges are laid by way of indictment, a type of prosecution reserved for the most serious offences,” the SPCA said.
The organization said this could open the door to much harsher penalties.
The accused faces a five-year prison term and a lifetime ban on having custody or control of an animal.
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— with files from The Canadian Press