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Barrie residents learn about Zimmer Zoo Bill

Wednesday, February 21st 2007 9:48:00am

For Immediate Release - News Release
Attention News and Assignment Editors

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

(Barrie, Ontario, February 20, 2007) The World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA) continued their four city tour in Barrie tonight with a public meeting to discuss the proposed Regulation of Zoos Act (Bill 154). Attendees learned how Willowdale 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, 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."

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 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;
    * 87% of Ontarians agree that zoo operators should have formal education and training in animal care; and
    * 63% of Ontario residents said they would have a more favourable opinion of their local Member of Provincial Parliament if they voted to support the Zimmer Bill.

Ms. Tkachyk also noted that the sessions will continue throughout the week with stops in 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).

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

Additional Locations:

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.

WSPA (pronounced wis-pa) works in cooperation with over 400 member organizations in more than 90 countries to promote animal welfare and conservation.

90 Eglinton Avenue East   Suite 960  Toronto  Ontario  M4P 2Y3   CANADA

Phone (416) 369 0044 Fax (416) 369 0147 Email: wspa@wspa.ca  Website: www.wspa.ca