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When it comes to wild animals in captivity Ontario has often been referred to as the "wild west." That's because Ontario has no zoo licensing, no regulations, no comprehensive, objective standards for animal housing, care and management, no prohibition on the keeping of dangerous animals as pets and almost no oversight of wildlife in captivity facilities.

In 2012 and 2013 tens of thousands of Ontarians expressed concern about the lack of laws and regulations for wildlife in captivity, particularly for marine mammals, but the Ontario government has chosen to do nothing about it. Their 2013 stakeholder consultation process and October 2013 announcement about new, improved measures to protect animals in Ontario contained nothing to help captive wild animals. Not a single key item discussed in the consultation was included in the government's announcement.


  • A license is required to keep some native animals in captivity, but the minimal conditions associated with the license are not enforced.
  • There is NO licensing, NO regulations and NO comprehensive, objective enforceable standards for keeping exotic (non-native) animals in captivity. Anyone can acquire and keep exotic animals regardless of their knowledge, experience or financial ability to provide proper housing and care. No permit is required, no specific standards must be satisfied and no government inspections take place.
  • The Ontario SPCA Act Regulation 60/09 contains general standards of care for animals and for wildlife in captivity, but they are minimal, non-specific or vague, subject to a high degree of interpretation, and unenforceable.
  • Zoos, aquariums and others who keep wild animals do not have to provide inventory reports regarding their live collections. There are no requirements to report or make public animal acquisitions, dispositions and deaths.
  • Zoos, aquariums and others who keep wild animals do not have to abide by safety regulations to protect the public.
  • Zoos, aquariums and other people and businesses who keep exotic animals operate at a standard of their own choosing.
  • There is no federal government requirement for public notification prior to the importation of many marine mammals, such as beluga whales. Many animals can be brought into Canada in relative secrecy.

For more information about the current status of wildlife in captivity in Ontario, read A Review of Zoos in Ontario. Has Anything Changed?

To learn more about safety in Ontario's roadside zoos read Wild Neighbours, The Safety and Security of Ontario's Wildlife in Captivity Facilities



Send a letter or email to your own elected Member of Provincial Parliament. Ask them to assist in pushing for a comprehensive law to control zoos, menageries and aquariums and to set rules and regulations for their humane and safe operation. If you don't know who your representative is, then CLICK HERE TO FIND OUT.


Voice your concern about the conditions at Marineland and the lack of rules, regulations and oversight of zoos, menageries and aquariums in Ontario. Urge the Premier to push forward with a tough regulatory regime that incorporates licensing, evolving standards, punitive measures for non-compliance and a legitimate process for public complaints to be considered. Tell him we don't just need a one time investigation of one facility because it's in the news, we need proper licensing, regulation and oversight of all zoos, menageries and aquariums in the province.

Write to:

Premier Kathleen Wynne
Main Legislative Building
Queen's Park
Toronto, ON M7A 1A1

Fax: 1-416-325-7578
Or send the Premier an email from her website:

Urge the Premier to follow through on the Ontario government's promise to do something to help wildlife in captivity in Ontario. Tell the Premier we need laws to control zoos, menageries and aquariums, to safeguard the interests and wellbeing of wild animals and to protect public safety. At the present time, captive wildlife facilities are not comprehensively regulated by any official agency. Since no Ontario ministry is willing to accept responsibility for captive wildlife, it is up to the Premier to move this issue forward .

Also send a letter or email to the Honourable Madeleine Meilleur, Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services. In October 2012 she announced that changes would be made to Ontario's laws to better protect marine animals and other animals in captivity.

Write/Email to:

The Honourable Madeleine Meilleur
Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services
18th Floor, George Drew Building
25 Grosvenor Street
Toronto, Ontario M7A 1Y6

Fax: 1-416-325-6067

Email: mmeilleur.mpp@liberal.ola.org


If you encounter poor conditions or cruel practices in any of Ontario's zoos, menageries or aquariums, file a complaint with the Ontario SPCA at info@ospca.on.ca .

Copy your correspondence to zoocheck@zoocheck.com.


  • Learn the issues and make an informed decision about whether you want to support wildlife display facilities. Do not support roadside zoos and menageries. Deciding to stay away from these businesses is a significant and important first step in stopping their proliferation. If people don't go, they won't stay open for long.

  • If you choose not to support wildlife display facilities, let them know why.

  • Make your family, friends and co-workers aware of the reality of wildlife in captivity.

  • Write a letter-to-the-editor, so even more people are informed. Letters to the Editor are often the most read section of a newspaper.

  • Make an informed decision about whether your child attends school field trips to wildlife display facilities. Inform your child's school and your local school board about why you believe these businesses are not appropriate for school visits. Read Wild Neighbours to learn about safety issues in zoos.

  • When traveling, make an extra effort to visit natural areas where you can enjoy truly wild nature.

  • If you work in a zoo, menagerie or aquarium and don't like what's going on, consider becoming a whistleblower. Insiders have been instrumental in exposing and correcting neglect, cruelty and mistreatment.



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