Ben the black bear has spent more than 25 years in a tiny, substandard cage at the Spruce Haven (Nature Park) Zoo, a small privately-operated zoo in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario. Able to walk only for a few seconds in one direction or another, Ben is confined on a hard dirt floor, with the only features in his cage being a few old branches on the floor, a couple of tires, a chewed up shelter box and an old bathtub embedded in the floor. Two African lions and a minimal assortment of other carnivores at the zoo are also in rudimentary conditions.
Zoocheck has had several experts visit and assess the conditions at Spruce Haven (Nature Park) Zoo. They agree that it is unsafe for people and that many of the animals are housed in facilities that fail to satisfy the biological and behavioural needs of the animals. Read the latest report HERE.
Despite having reviewed this information, the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry has turned a blind eye and continues to issue an annual provincial permit to the zoo for the keeping of native wildlife. And the Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals has seemingly failed to achieve any meaningful changes to address the animal welfare issues. And neither of these agencies has a mandate to address the public health and safety issues. That leaves the issue in the hands of Sault Ste. Marie City Council to deal with.
In response to the concerns, Sault Ste. Marie City Council voted, just over a week ago, to ban zoos in the city. This of course is wonderful news, but the bylaw has not yet been considered or approved and, already, some council members have suggested they would support allowing Spruce Haven Zoo to continue operating (grandfathering) as they are after the bylaw is passed. For the sake of the public and the animals, this should not be allowed to happen.
The zoo is very small, so moving the wild animals out and, if the owners choose, changing to more of a petting zoo format wouldn’t be hard. To make things even easier, Zoocheck has offered to relocate all of the carnivores to sanctuaries at no cost to the zoo owners or the City of Sault Ste. Marie. That would allow the animals to live out the remainder of their lives in conditions that allow them to roam, explore and be active.
Ben the bear and the other animals at Spruce Haven need your help today! After so many years, they deserve to live out whatever time they have left in better conditions.
You can help by taking the following two simple actions today.
1. Sign the petition at this link, and
2. Send the Sault Ste. Marie City Council members a short (polite) email asking them to move forward with their plans for a bylaw banning zoos and urge them not to allow Spruce Haven Zoo continue operating as they have in the past. Email the Mayor and Members of Council