97 percent of Ontarians surveyed say zoos must meet professional standards
Monday, February 19th 2007 5:02:54pm
Attention News and Assignment Editors:
MPP David Zimmer’s Bill 154 aims to protect animals and people
(Toronto, Ontario, February 19, 2007) A province-wide poll released today indicates the vast majority of Ontarians believe zoo operators should be required to obtain a license and comply with professional animal welfare and public safety standards. The poll, conducted by Oraclepoll Research*, asked 1,000 Ontarians across the province a series of questions on issues relating to animal care in Ontario.
More zoos are known to exist in Ontario than in any other province, and many of them are substandard roadside facilities. The poll was conducted in support of Willowdale MPP David Zimmer’s Regulation of Zoos Act (Bill 154) which aims to address problems in these “roadside zoos” by setting standards of animal care and public safety for all Ontario zoos.
Dubbed the Zimmer Zoo Bill, Bill 154 proposes a number of important standards that the current Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act overlooks. It would ensure every animal has adequate food, water, space, shelter and stimulation to satisfy their physical and behavioural needs. It would also put in place safety standards for the benefit of zoo staff and volunteers, the visiting public and neighbouring communities.
In explaining his rationale for introducing the Bill, Mr. Zimmer said, "The proper treatment of animals is a mark of a sophisticated, compassionate society. Ensuring that all zoos meet professional standards will help the animals, the visiting public, and those who live near zoos, as well as improve the bottom line for zoo owners across the province.”
The poll included a number of questions about the current regulations concerning animal treatment and public safety in zoo enclosures:
• 97% agree that Zoos should be required by law to meet professional standards of animal welfare and public safety;
• 90% agree that residents keeping wildlife such as tigers and monkeys in a zoo should be licensed;
• 83% support having a provincial agency inspect zoos to ensure they are safe;
• 87% agree that zoo operators should have formal education and training in animal care;
• 89% agree zoo operators should be required to have a business plan and base level funding; and
• 67% of females polled said they would have a favourable opinion of their local MPP if they voted to support Bill 154.
“The poll results don’t surprise me,” said Pat Tohill, Campaigns Manager with WSPA. “Ontarians have shown again and again that they care deeply about the well-being of animals, wild and domestic. What does surprise me is that we’ve been operating so long without any standards for captive wildlife whatsoever.”
Mr. Tohill added, “Perhaps most interesting is the percentage of people polled who said they would have a much more favourable opinion of their MPP if they voted to support Bill 154. 63% of respondents said they would favour an MPP who supported the Zimmer Zoo Bill. It seems that MPPs stand to score some valuable political support if they vote ‘yes’ to Bill 154.”
To explain the benefits of the Zimmer Zoo Bill, WSPA is hosting a series of public information sessions this week. The sessions take place at the following locations and times:
• Chatham - Monday, February 19, 6:30-8pm, Royal Canadian Legion Branch 28, 304 St. Clair St.
• Barrie - Tuesday, February 20, 6-8pm, Royal Canadian Legion Branch 147, 410 St. Vincent Street
• London - Wednesday, February 21, 6-8pm, Royal Canadian Legion Branch 263, 499 Hill Street
• Brantford - Thursday, February 22, 6-8pm Royal Canadian Legion Branch 90, 21 Oak Street
For more information see www.ontariozoos.ca/townhalls.html or call 1-800-363-WSPA (9772).
A petition in support of Bill 154 can also be found on the website www.OntarioZoos.ca.
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For more information or to arrange interviews, contact:
Patrick Tohill, Campaigns Manager, Canada, WSPA, 416-369-0044 ext. 104, cell: 416-898-9448, tohill(at)wspa.ca
Brent Kulba (ECO Media Relations), 416-972-7401
* The survey polled 1,000 Ontarians between January 20th and January 27th, 2007 and has a margin of error of
+/- 3.1%, 19 times out of 20.