Squirrel monkeys from the Amazon Basin are among the animals on display at the Greater Vancouver Zoo in Aldergrove. A report released Monday (Dec. 30) by the Vancouver Humane Society said the zoo should move away from species ‘unsuited’ to the B.C. climate. (Langley Advance Times file)

Animals at B.C. zoo suffer ‘boredom and frustration,’ humane society says

Report calls on Metro Vancouver zoo to upgrade enclosures, stop housing animals ‘unsuited’ to B.C.

Many animals at the Greater Vancouver Zoo in Greater Vancouver are living in “barren, under-sized cages and enclosures that restrict them from engaging in natural behaviours,” according to a report released Monday (Dec. 30) by the Vancouver Humane Society.

It calls on the Aldergrove zoo to improve conditions for its animals and to move away from “keeping animals unsuited to B.C.’s climate.”

It was prepared for the society by Zoocheck, a Canadian-based international wildlife protection charity, based on “issues identified during three separate visits.”

In the report, Zoocheck noted there have been improvements since the charity began issuing reports on the Greater Vancouver Zoo beginning in 1997, stating the zoo seems to have made a number of “significant, very positive, changes” but adding “some longstanding issues remain problematic and should be addressed.”

“They include, but are not limited to, lack of space for certain species, lack of appropriate environmental conditions, lack of environmental and behavioural enrichment, lack of shelter and privacy areas, lack of proper social contexts, excess ground water and water logging of enclosure substrates.”

Vancouver Humane Society spokesperson Peter Fricker said the zoo doesn’t provide animals with a stimulating environment that allows natural activities such as climbing, foraging or digging.

“The main issue is a lack of enrichment,” Fricker told Black Press.

Given the amount of space available on the 120-acre site, Fricker said the zoo should build larger enclosures with more for animals to do, “to alleviate boredom and frustration.”

In the longer term, he said, the zoo needs to stop keeping captive animals for entertainment and move toward being a sanctuary for native wildlife.

Fricker said the the zoo’s giraffe enclosure hasn’t been changed since a 2003 Zoocheck report described it as “barren and lacking in any stimulation for the animals to engage in natural behaviours.”

In the new report, Zoocheck said that giraffes are not suited to B.C.s climate and suggested the zoo consider constructing a new, larger and climate-controlled enclosure or relocating the giraffes to a “more species-appropriate facility elsewhere.”

The report cites the zoo’s raptor exhibit as an example of an undersized enclosure that denies natural behaviours, because it provides “little or no ability for the birds to engage in flight.”

READ ALSO: Fraser Valley dashes for endangered species at the zoo

The Zoocheck report also found that reptiles were being kept in “very restricted circumstances” with “minimal” space.

The hippopotamus enclosure was criticized for “lacking any vegetation and or enrichment elements” and the indoor holding facility was described as “small and not suitable for the permanent keeping of these animals.”

The zoo’s lone red fox should be found a companion or be sent to a facility that can meet its social requirements, the report said.

Squirrel monkeys and coatimundi, it said, were in small enclosures and should be moved to more appropriate accommodation.

Fricker said the report was sent to the zoo, which did not respond.

“We would hope the zoo would pay attention,” Fricker commented.

Black Press has reached out to the Greater Vancouver Zoo for a response.

The zoo was called the Vancouver Game Farm when it first opened on Aug. 20, 1970, and operated as a family business by Pat Hines and his wife Ann, then their daughter Eleanor and husband Hugh Oakes until it was sold to new owners in 1991.

The Game Farm then became known as the Greater Vancouver Zoological Centre, adding new animal enclosures, the miniature train, picnic park and other features.

In 1999, the name changed again to the Greater Vancouver Zoo.

It is the largest facility of its kind in B.C. and houses more than 140 wild and exotic animals including lions, a tiger, cheetah, giraffe and hippos.

It also contributes to conservation efforts on various fronts including work to build back the population of the spotted frog and the Western painted turtle.

READ ALSO: Zoo awarded for its restoration of the Salmon River

Over the years, the zoo has faced controversy over the untimely death of some giraffes and the treatment of one of its hippos.

An outdoor enclosure was built for the hippo, including a large pond, after the criticism.

There have been protests by animal rights activists at the zoo from time to time.



dan.ferguson@langleyadvancetimes.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

 

A giraffe at the Greater Vancouver Zoo in Aldergrove. A report released Monday (Dec. 30) by the Vancouver Humane Society said the giraffe enclosure has not been improved since a 2003 report that called it “barren and lacking in any stimulation.” (Langley Advance Times file)

Just Posted

Scenes like this one in the dugout are all too frequent for parents and kids arriving to play baseball at Nunns Creek Park these days, spurring a request to the city to let them move to the Sportsplex in Willow Point. Photo from CRMB presentation to City of Campbell River
Safety concerns run Campbell River Minor Baseball out of Nunns Creek Park

Parents say ‘needle and feces sweeps’ have become part of everyday life for the baseball community

The cover of the newly redesigned Beaver Lodge Forest Lands activity guide. Photo courtesy Greenways Land Trust
Greenways redesigns Beaver Lodge activity guide

Guide has helped teach students for over a decade

Undersea cables are towed out into position. Photo Baylink Networks.
SRD looks at last-mile agreements for Connected Coast project

District to borrow up to $12 million — pending electoral approval

Crews work on construction of the new composting facility at the Campbell River landfill. Photo by Marc Kitteringham, Campbell River Mirror
Environment group wishes Comox Strathcona compost site was in a better spot

Province has guidelines on siting, but they are not legal requirements

COVID-19 virus (file photo).
COVID-19 exposures reported for two Campbell River schools

Campbell River Christian School and Ecole des Deux Mondes are the schools involved

B.C. Labour Minister Harry Bains in the B.C. legislature, May 13, 2019. (Hansard TV)
VIDEO: B.C. to provide 3 days of sick pay for COVID-19 absences

Province will support employers on cost, labour minister says

A nurse asks screening questions at an immunization appointment in Nanaimo earlier this year. (Shawn Wagar/Island Health photo)
Island Health appreciates nurses answering the call in challenging times

Health authority draws attention to National Nursing Week

BC Housing minister David Eby. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito)
Eby jabs back against Penticton mayor’s ad urging BC Premier to intervene in shelter dispute

Eby writes that Penticton’s ‘serious’ social issues won’t improve under leadership of the mayor

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature, April 29, 2021. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 rate creeps up again, 600 new cases Wednesday

One more death, 423 people in hospital with virus

B.C. Agriculture Minister Lana Popham takes questions in the B.C. legislature in 2017. (Hansard TV)
UPDATE: B.C. will fund another year of fresh fruit, vegetables, milk in schools

John Horgan government working on school meal program

Surrey RCMP is releasing sketches of a suspect in an “indecent act” at the Coyote Creek Elementary playground on April 30, 2021. Police said the suspect was clean-shaven “during some interactions” and on “other occasions had stubble outlining a goatee and mustache.” (Images: Surrey RCMP handout)
Vancouver mayor-elect Kennedy Stewart addresses supporters in Vancouver on Sunday, Oct. 21, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Vancouver mayor says there’s no time to redo details of drug decriminalization plan

Kennedy Stewart says a federal election could see the small window of opportunity close on the city’s bid for an exemption from criminal provisions on simple possession of small amounts of drugs

These are just a handful of Vancouver Island’s missing person cases. Clockwise from top left: Lisa Marie Young, Lindsey Nicholls, Micheal Dunahee, Jesokah Adkens, Belinda Cameron and Emma Fillipoff. (File photos courtesy of family members and police departments)
Could Victoria skull fragment bring closure to an Island missing persons mystery?

Skeletal remains found in Greater Victoria have not yet been identified

Premier Mike Horgan received his first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. (Facebook/John Horgan)
More than 50% of people eligible in B.C. have received 1st vaccine dose

‘We’ve made extraordinary progress together over the past few weeks,’ says Premier Horgan

Most Read