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Quebec zoo at heart of animal cruelty allegations ordered closed by workers’ safety board

Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals officers enter a zoo where the owner of the zoo was arrested on charges of cruelty to animals in St-Edouard-de-Maskinonge, Que. on Tuesday, May 21, 2019.
Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals officers enter a zoo where the owner of the zoo was arrested on charges of cruelty to animals in St-Edouard-de-Maskinonge, Que. on Tuesday, May 21, 2019. Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press

The Quebec workers’ safety board has ordered the closure a small zoo at the heart of an animal cruelty investigation and the removal of the animals that remain on site.

A relocation of the animals had begun after the Montreal SPCA and its partners descended on the Saint-Édouard Zoo on May 21 and charged its owner with one count each of criminal animal neglect and criminal animal cruelty.

READ MORE: Animals seized as Quebec zoo owner charged with cruelty, neglect

Animal welfare groups had moved to seize over 100 wild and exotic animals including lions, tigers, wolves, deer and dozens of other species from the rural property east of Montreal.

But a lawyer for zoo owner Normand Trahan filed a motion seeking a cancellation of the seizure warrants, which put the transfer on hold a few days later.

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Hélène Bruneau, a spokeswoman for the workers’ safety board, says the new order comes after an inspector visited the Saint-Édouard Zoo on Saturday to investigate a complaint by the Montreal SPCA.

READ MORE: Quebec City woman facing animal cruelty charge after videos posted on social media

The zoo hadn’t reopened since the raid, but the safety board inspection found the site wasn’t safe for the workers who have been caring for the animals.

“On site, the inspector saw that the infrastructure did not let the workers provide care in a completely safe manner,” Bruneau said. “There was a risk of contact with the animals.”

The criminal case against the Trahan returns to court in Trois-Rivières, Que., on June 21.

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Unknown number of animals killed in Gatineau SPCA fire
Unknown number of animals killed in Gatineau SPCA fire