From: Sharon Ho, Reuters
Published May 16, 2007 12:00 AM

Canada Urged To Tighten Rules on Private Zoos

TORONTO -- Canada's regulatory oversightof exotic animal farms is lacking and may have contributed tothe recent death of a woman who was mauled by a caged tiger ata private zoo, animal experts said Tuesday.

Animal welfare and zoo experts are concerned following thedeath last Thursday of a 32-year-old woman at her boyfriend'srural private zoo at Bridge Lake in central British Columbia.The woman was petting a three-year-old tiger when theanimal slashed her leg with his paw. According to local mediareports, the woman died from blood loss.Authorities later euthanized the tiger.

Regulations for private exotic animal farms vary fromprovince to province, with some discouraging the zoos, whileothers, such as British Columbia and Ontario, not requiringprivate zoo owners or operators to obtain licenses.

"We see a patchwork of different regulations andlegislation dealing with the keeping of captive wildlife," saidMelissa Tkachyk, programs officer for the World Society for theProtection of Animals.

The WSPA is mainly concerned about what it calls roadsidezoos. The organization estimates there are at least 75 suchoperations in Canada, with more than 45 in Ontario alone.Besides often lacking concern for animal welfare,unregulated zoos pose a threat to public safety, said BillRapley, a director at the Toronto Zoo, which has more than5,000 animals, including polar bears and lions.The dangers of keeping animals in captivity include thetransmission of disease, and the threat of attack."They have fight mechanisms, which you have to respect,"Rapley said.

David Zimmer, a member of Ontario's legislature, recentlyintroduced a bill that would require stricter governmentregulation of all zoos in the province.The British Columbia government said it plans to review itsregulation of zoos.

Source: Reuters

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