A new report commissioned by the Vancouver Humane Society (VHS) is calling for change at the Greater Vancouver Zoo.
The report by Canadian wildlife protection charity Zoocheck found that many animals at the zoo, located in Aldergrove, are “living in barren, undersized cages and enclosures that restrict them from engaging in natural behaviours,” according to a VHS release.
For example, the report notes the zoo’s raptor exhibit, which includes kestrels, owls, hawks, provides “little or no ability for the birds to engage in flight beyond a few wing flaps.”
“It seems bizarre to have to tell the zoo that birds need to fly, but sadly that’s what they need to hear,” Vancouver Humane Society spokesperson Peter Fricker said.
The society says these issues have been highlighted in past reports, but there has been little in the way of change.
The report recommends the zoo provide larger cages and enclosures and implement a behavioural enrichment program that will give animals a stimulating environment.
The report also calls on zoo officials to move away from keeping animals that are not suited to B.C.’s climate.
“These problems need to be addressed urgently,” Fricker said. “In the longer term, the zoo needs to stop keeping captive animals for entertainment and move toward being a sanctuary for native wildlife.”
In an emailed statement, Greater Vancouver Zoo general manager Serge Lussier said animal welfare, enrichment and conservation remain the institutions guiding principles.
“Our goal is to provide the best possible conditions for the zoo’s animal collection by continually evaluating and improving all aspects of the animals’ homes, social situations, husbandry, and nutrition,” said Lussier.
He also said the zoo has plans over the next several years to improve the experiences of animals and visitors, including transforming half of the zoo into a “safari park,” and creating a new large feline complex “eliminating the vision of fences” by adding an observatory and “redesigning the animal habitats with the goal of further enriching the lives of large felines.”