The animal welfare group Humane Society International (HSI) has rescued more than 200 wild animals — including lions, tigers, zebras, bears, camels, monkeys, goats and kangaroos — from a roadside zoo in Canada.
The zoo, in St-Édouard-de-Maskinongé, Quebec, has a long history of animal cruelty violations. In August 2018, the Montreal SPCA performed an inspection of the facility and found four dead animals, including two tigers. The unaccredited zoo has neglected the animals in its care for years, but now the Quebec Government has finally ruled that all the animals must be seized.
The owner of the roadside zoo has been arrested and charged with criminal animal cruelty and neglect. He now faces a five-year prison sentence and the possibility of a lifetime ban from keeping any animal.
When the animals were found, many of them were confined in dark, barren and dilapidated enclosures. All the animals had completely inadequate shelter with minimal protection from the elements, and some had no access to water or proper food.
Many of the rescued animals were suffering from medical conditions and had not been given access to veterinary care. All of them showed signs of significant psychological distress, including constant pacing. Social animals were kept in solitary confinement, and there was no enrichment in many of the enclosures.
HSI is providing all on-site care for the animals and transporting them to its network of sanctuaries throughout Canada and the United States. Many of the animals are in desperate need of medical care, and they all need proper nutrition so they can fully recover from so many years of neglect.
Since animals at roadside zoos are typically born in captivity, they cannot be returned to the wild. Instead, the best thing for them is to be placed in species-appropriate facilities that are as close as possible to their natural environment.
This rescue is a positive outcome, but there are hundreds of roadside zoos around the world where wild animals suffer for tourist opportunities. Please remember to travel responsibly and not visit unaccredited roadside zoos.
If you ever do notice animal cruelty at a tourist attraction, or indeed elsewhere, please contact the local Humane Society or SPCA.