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Chatham residents learn about Zimmer Zoo Bill

Monday, February 19th 2007 5:04:43pm

For Immediate Release – News Release
Attention News and Assignment Editors

Chatham residents learn how Zimmer Zoo Bill (Bill 154) safeguards animals, zoo visitors and neighbouring communities

(Chatham, Ontario, February 19, 2007) The World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA) kicked off a four city tour beginning in Chatham tonight with a public meeting to discuss the proposed Regulation of Zoos Act (Bill 154). Attendees learned how the MPP David Zimmer’s Private Member’s Bill will address rampant animal care and public safety problems at roadside zoos, by establishing regulations and standards for all Ontario zoos.

Melissa Tkachyk, Campaigns Officer for WSPA, said, “David Zimmer’s Regulation of Zoos Act will put an end to the days when anybody could collect lions, tigers and bears, throw them into ramshackle cages and invite the public to come and see them. This is an important piece of legislation that deserves public support.”

The Zimmer Zoo Bill contains a number of important standards that the current Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act overlooks. Foremost among the proposed standards includes a requirement that Ontario zoo operators obtain a license and comply with professional welfare and public safety standards. The Bill would also ensure every animal has adequate food, water, space, shelter and stimulation to satisfy their physical and behavioural needs.  

In explaining his rationale for introducing the Zoo Bill, Willowdale MPP David 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.”

WSPA also released the findings of an Ontario wide survey conducted by Oraclepoll Research* that shows 97% of Ontarians overwhelmingly supporting the idea of province-wide regulations aimed at standardizing zoo animal care. In addition:

• 90% of residents in Southwestern Ontario (Chatham included) strongly agree that all Ontario zoos be required by law to meet professional standards of animal care and public safety;

• 90% of Ontarians agree that residents keeping wildlife such as tigers and monkeys in a zoo should be licensed;

• 83% of Ontarians support having a provincial agency inspect zoos to ensure they are safe; and

• 87% of Ontarians agree that zoo operators should have formal education and training in animal care.

Ms. Tkachyk also noted that the sessions will continue throughout the week with stops in Barrie, London and Brantford.  For those who missed the session, more information is available at www.OntarioZoos.ca or by calling 1-800-363-WSPA (9772).

In addition to the WSPA, Bill 154 is supported by the Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and the Canadian Association of Zoos and Aquariums.

Additional Locations:

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

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For more information or to arrange interviews, contact:

Melissa Tkachyk, Campaigns Officer, Canada, WSPA, 416-369-0044 ext. 108, cell: 416-712-3468, tkachyk(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.