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)

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

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

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)

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

Trevor Davis, base manager of the Western Canada Marine Response Corporation in Sidney, stands in front of the Hecate Sentinal, an oil skimming vessel based at Sidney’s Van Isle Marina. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)
Oil spill response base taking shape on Saanich Peninsula

Enhanced base with elements in North Saanich and Sidney to be fully operational in fall 2022

The O’Meara family – (left to right) Mari, Max, Adam and Rei – spent Saturday afternoon picking out the perfect tree. (Devon Bidal/News Staff)
Santa’s Forest tree sale in Saanich implements one-way perusing, curbside pick up

Christmas tree, wreath sales in Braefoot Park through Dec. 24

Environment Canada has issued a special weather statement forecasting windy weather Sunday and Monday. (News Bulletin file photo)
More windy weather on the way for Vancouver Island

Environment Canada issues special weather statement for Victoria, east coast of Island, north Island

(Black Press Media file)
Webinars help Greater Victoria residents affected by dementia prepare for the holidays

COVID-19 pandemic, restrictions can add additional challenges for people living with dementia

Mary Cox and Jack Plant dance in their pyjamas and slippers at the morning pyjama dance during the Rhythm Reelers’ 25 Annual Rally in the Valley Square Dance Festival in Chilliwack on June 4, 2011. Sunday, Nov. 29, 2020 is Square Dancing Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Nov. 29 to Dec. 5

Square Dancing Day, Disability Day and International Ninja Day are all coming up this week

Black Press Media and BraveFace have come together to support children facing life-threatening conditions. Net proceeds from these washable, reusable, three-layer masks go to Make-A-Wish Foundation BC & Yukon.
Put on a BraveFace: Help make children’s wishes come true

Black Press Media, BraveFace host mask fundraiser for Make-A-Wish Foundation

Kevin Bieksa during his days playing with the Vancouver Canucks. (Photo: commons.wikimedia.org)
Bieksa to guest on free Canucks Alumni ‘Hot Stove’ on Zoom app

Former NHL player has become a game analyst on Sportsnet

A small crash in the water south of Courtenay Saturday afternoon. Two men had to be rescued, but reports indicate there were no serious injuries. Photo by Mike Chouinard
Small plane crash in Comox Valley waters Saturday afternoon

Two rescued from plane that had flipped in water; no serious injuries reported

A photo from 2017, of Nuchatlaht First Nation members outside court after filing a land title case in B.C. ( Submitted photo/Nuchatlaht First Nation).
Vancouver Island First Nation calls on B.C. to honour UNDRIP in historic title case

Nuchatlaht First Nation says Crown counsel continues to stall the case using the ‘distasteful’ argument that the Nation ‘abandoned’ their land

West Vancouver Island’s Ehattesaht First Nation continues lock down after 9 active cases were reported today after a visitor tested positive last week. (Ehattesaht First Nation/Facebook)
Ehattesaht First Nation’s COVID-19 nightmare: nine active cases, a storm and a power outage

The Vancouver Island First Nation in a lockdown since the first case was reported last week

114 Canadians were appointed Nov. 27 to the Order of Canada. (Governor General of Canada photo)
Indigenous actor, author, elder, leaders appointed to Order of Canada

Outstanding achievement, community dedication and service recognized

The Ahousaht First Nation confirmed its first case of COVID-19 on Nov. 26, 2020. (Westerly file photo)
Ahousaht First Nation on lockdown over COVID-19

“Emotions are high. The anxiety is high. We want our community to pull through.”

Most Read