Zoocheck Donor Update
Zoocheck’s opposition,to the Reptilia zoo plan to establish new locations in a number of Ontario cities continued. You may recall, in December 2021, after our short but very intense campaign, Toronto City Council said no to changing its animal control bylaw to accommodate Reptilia and then London City Council did the same in April 2022.
In St. Catharines, Ontario in the spring of 2022, Reptilia was also seeking bylaw changes so they could set up a zoo, but we fought their proposal resulting in them withdrawing their request to change the animal control bylaw three times. They came back in December and the item finally went to City Council on the 12th. I’m happy to report that once again we won. Council voted 13-0 against Reptilia setting up in the city.
Remarkably, despite previous Council decisions, Reptilia is setting up in London, so we are currently doing everything possible to address the issue once again in that City. And we know Reptilia is active in other areas, so we are conducting investigations and doing all the work necessary to challenge those proposals as well.
Zoocheck has also been working in a number of Canadian municipalities and other jurisdictions to improve exotic animal laws, including the replacement of current exotic animal regulations with more modern, effective Positive (allowed) List regulatory programs. Our efforts are starting to pay off. A number of municipalities have already passed or are now looking at Positive Lists and interest continues to grow. And a few months ago, a motion was passed in the City of Toronto directing staff to develop a Positive List for consideration in 2023.
We know the pet industry and exotic pet keepers are alarmed about all of these developments and are now fighting against improved laws and the use of Positive Lists. Regardless, we’ve been able to establish some important precedents and generate significant interest in rethinking how exotic animal issues are considered and there will be more to come in 2023.
I’m sure you know that Zoocheck has also been supporting the Jane Goodall Act, a progressive Senate bill that, if passed, could reform the keeping of captive exotic wildlife in Canada. We’re extremely pleased to have played a role in its development and we’re going to do everything we can to make it a reality. There’s a ton of work and numerous challenges ahead, including trying to prevent the Act from being weakened through amendments, but we have to do our absolute best because this is such an important initiative. The next step for the JGA bill is to go to Committee for deliberations but there may be some hurdles in getting it there. However, we remain optimistic. It’s exciting and, potentially, game-changing for animals and we’ll have more news about the bill in the coming weeks.
On the wildlife front, we’ve been working on our rebranding efforts to rehabilitate the image of highly persecuted double-crested cormorants in the Great Lakes Basin. In collaboration with Animal Alliance of Canada, we’ve been pushing as hard as we can against the continued culling of cormorants in Point Pelee National Park and against the nonsensical Ontario cormorant hunting season. Protecting cormorants is an extremely challenging project as they are among the most hated of wild animals, but we’re optimistic that we can make progress on the issue.
Our ongoing campaign to protect Alberta’s wild horses moved into an interesting phase recently. For the past 7 years Zoocheck has been fighting to obtain, through Freedom of Information laws, rangeland assessment reports that the Government of Alberta has reportedly been using to support their claim that there are too many wild horses. Of course, we’ve done our own extensive investigations and research for years and can’t find anything supporting the Government’s claim. I’m happy to report that just recently we finally acquired thousands of pages of rangeland information that we are now having assessed. As we expected, there is almost nothing about wild horses causing rangeland damage but there is a lot about cattle and ATV traffic. We’ll have more on this once an assessment is completed.
There’s a lot more going on as well, including other local and provincial initiatives involving zoo animals, mobile zoos, as well as capacity building activities for the animal welfare sector here in Canada. We’ll have more news on these other activities soon.
We’re making a big impact in many areas, but the workload is often daunting. We’re so pleased and grateful that you’re supporting what Zoocheck does, are part of our team and, most importantly, that you trust us to work on your behalf for the protection of animals. We’ll continue to do our absolute best. That’s a promise. Thank you so much!