New CK zoo owner promises change in the face of critical report

The new owner of a popular zoo in Chatham-Kent says significant improvements are already underway, following a scathing report from an international animal rights organization which alleges several possible welfare issues animal in the establishment.

Greenview Aviaries in Morpeth was listed in World Animal Protection‘s investigative report on roadside zoos in Ontario, which the organization released on Wednesday.

According to a press release from World Animal Protection, the investigation was conducted to highlight a series of perceived existing violations as well as the organization’s work to push the provincial government to develop a compulsory licensing program for all facilities. , businesses and institutions housing native and exotic animals. animals.

According to the organization’s website, World Animal Protection is an international nonprofit animal rights organization that has been around since 1981.

Of the approximately 50 zoos, wildlife exhibits and zoo-type exhibits in Ontario housing wildlife, 11 were visited throughout the summer of 2022 by World Animal Protection staff. According to the report, the 11 facilities were selected based on their accessibility, the size and variety of their animal collection, and the lack of formal industry association affiliation or recognition. .

“Observations have been documented on factors essential to meeting animal health and welfare and visitor health and safety standards as set out in Ontario Regulation 444/19 standards of care and administrative requirements,” the report said.

The Greenview aviaries, which house around 450 animals, including several big cats, were visited on June 29, 2022. Zoo owners and staff were not notified of the visits.

Following the visit, a complaint was lodged with the Provincial Animal Welfare Services (PAWS) Inspectorate, raising concerns about standards of care for captive wildlife and basic standards of care for a variety of animals at the Greenview aviaries.

According to the complaint filed with the PAWS Inspection, standards of care for wildlife in captivity and basic standards of care for a variety of animals at Greenview Aviaries included:

-Unsafe interactions between the public and primates (ring-tailed lemurs)

“There is a lack of a security barrier in this enclosure and there is unsupervised interaction between visitors and ring-tailed lemurs,” the complaint states. “Including little kids putting their hands through the fence. Ring-tailed lemurs are fast, agile, have sharp teeth, and can seriously injure a person.

-Keeping primates in undersized enclosures, preventing animals from engaging in their full range of natural behaviors

– Standards of care for wild animals in captivity regarding:

– Ring-tailed lemur


-The Lions

-Monkey enclosure

-Pink flamingos

The report refers to the monkey enclosures as “grossly undersized, dark, and minimalistic enclosures housing crab-eating macaques, black and brown lemurs, and ring-tailed lemurs.”

Monkey enclosure at Greenview Aviaries via World Animal Protection Report

World Animal Protection staff also criticized the facility’s flamingo enclosures.

“Flamingos kept in the enclosure without proper water features. A flamingo showed feeding behavior on land, which is abnormal behavior since flamingos do not feed on land. This enclosure does not provide the surface area to accommodate natural movement and behavior,” the complaint reads. “Flamingos typically live on large mudflats and saltwater habitats. When feeding, they take a sip of water and filter out the organisms which they then eat.

Flamingo enclosure at Greenview Aviaries via World Animal Welfare Report

Flamingo enclosure at Greenview Aviaries via World Animal Welfare Report

Additionally, the complaint raised concerns about the condition of several specific animals, including a dove that appeared to have plucked out its own feathers and a chicken with “abnormally thickened” legs, which staff say could be caused. by “breeding/poor nutrition, infectious diseases”. , or traumatic conditions.

Chicken at Greenview Aviaries via World Animal Protection Report

Chicken at Greenview Aviaries via World Animal Protection Report

Dove at Greenview Aviaries via World Animal Protection Report

Dove at Greenview Aviaries via World Animal Protection Report

According to World Animal Protection, Ontario is the last major jurisdiction in Canada that has not allowed or restricted the keeping or use of exotic wild animals in captivity. Instead, the responsibility continues to rest with individual municipalities, resulting in a variety of different regulations across the province.

“The lack of enforcement of the little regulation that exists for these facilities is deeply concerning,” said Michèle Hamers, head of the global campaign for animal protection. “This Old West patchwork system that’s been in place for years just doesn’t work, and we know it – it needs an overhaul to protect the public and captive wildlife.”

The 50-acre property at Greenview Aviaries, which had been managed by previous owners for nearly four decades, went on sale in January. It was eventually purchased by a Ridgetown family.

According to owner Alicia Patten, the family took over the property on June 1. Although the family has had some experience running their hobby farm, Patten previously said she is still working on learning the ropes when it comes to caring for exotic animals at home. zoo. She also previously said that improving and upgrading the animal enclosures was of the utmost importance to the family and one of the top priorities they were working on.

When contacted by CK News Today to comment on the World Animal Protection report, Patten said it was heartbreaking, but she knew big changes had to be made, adding that she and her family continued to work to make positive improvements to the zoo.

Patten also provided CK News Today with several photos of what she said were improvements made by her family so far to the interior of the primate winter enclosures as well as improvements to the monkey building to add more natural light, space and air circulation, a new fountain to keep water moving for water health and new perimeter fencing for lemurs so there are no contact with animals. Patten also said work is underway to improve the full-size speakers.

“I just read this report and I have to say I don’t disagree with most of it,” she said. “There should be standards that must be followed in the best interests of any animal in captivity, as well as for the safety of the public. I just want to defend our zoo by saying that we are and will continue to make the many changes that need to be made to give these animals the best possible life. Our priority as owners of this zoo is the animals first. We have many plans in place for new enclosures, enrichment projects, breeding programs, certification of Canada’s accredited zoos and aquariums, and more. and we will comply with the latest standards published in the near future for enclosure safety and animal welfare. We are committed to informing the public about these animals and their status in the world. Experiments with animals in captivity for some will be the only time they see many of these animals. Getting to know them in zoos will hopefully spark interest in wanting to protect and care for the natural environment where these beautiful creatures come from so that they continue to exist in our world.

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