There are only a dozen animals left inside Saint John’s Cherry Brook Zoo, where once more than 70 lived.
The zoo announced its permanent closure in April, citing financial problems made worse by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We were positioning ourselves to rebrand and start over before COVID hit,” says manager Martha McDevitt.
“We couldn’t sustain ourselves then.”
Staff then had to begin the long and difficult process of rehoming and finding suitable facilities for the lions, tigers, zebras and other animals.
Zookeeper Erin Brown led that charge.
“It’s really sad sometimes,” she says.
Brown says some of the animals were relocated within the Maritimes — the foxes went to the Magnetic Hill Zoo.
Other animals went to zoos elsewhere in Canada.
Left are two lions, two tigers, two snakes and four rats.
The snakes and rats will go home with one of the staff, while the big cats are headed south of the border — but won’t end up in the hands of Carole Baskin or Joe Exotic anytime soon.
“In fact, the group that we are working with, they are the ones that are cleaning up the mess from Joe Exotic,” Brown says.
She says homes have been lined up for the cats, pending paperwork to get them across the border.
In the meantime, Brown, McDevitt and two other employees are working regular hours on site to care for them and train them.
Fencing and other materials from the zoo being sold off, with that money going to help feed the animals until they leave town.