Yupi2Wild animals in captivity, even in the largest zoos, often suffer physically, psychologically and socially from lack of space, under-stimulation, inappropriate environmental conditions, antiquated or abusive management practices and other issues. Yet almost all zoos and captive wild animal display businesses claim they are focused on animal welfare. They also claim they play a vital role in the conservation of wildlife and in public conservation education. Unfortunately these claims don’t usually stand up to scrutiny and are often exaggerated, untrue and/or unproven.

Today nearly 100 zoos, wildlife displays and zoo-type exhibits can be found in Canada. They range from tiny displays in retail stores to large public institutions housing thousands of animals. Rules, regulations and laws governing the operation of captive wildlife facilities vary across the country, but most laws fail to ensure that the full range of biological, behavioural, social and welfare needs of captive wild animals are satisfied.

Even though it has the largest number of zoos, wildlife displays and zoo-type exhibits, Ontario is the most lax when it comes to laws governing exotic wildlife in captivity. There is no licensing of captive exotic wild animals, no comprehensive regulations for animal housing, husbandry, care, welfare or safety and only limited oversight.

List of Canadian zoos and wildlife displays

Zoocheck works to end the abuse, neglect, suffering and exploitation of wild animals in captivity by:

  • challenging abusive and/or outdated zoo industry practices,
  • promoting behaviour-based husbandry of all captive animals,
  • pushing for broad reform of the zoo and aquarium industry and,
  • challenging exaggerated claims zoo conservation and education.


  • Learn the issues and make an informed decision about whether you want to support facilities/businesses featuring wild animals in captivity. Do not support roadside zoos or private wildlife 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 captivity 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 captivity facilities. Inform your child’s school and your local school board about why you believe these businesses are not appropriate for school visits. Here are some humane suggestions for alternatives to visiting a Zoo.
  • Read Wild Neighbours to learn about safety issues in private zoos.
  • When traveling, make an extra effort to visit natural areas where you can enjoy truly wild nature.
  • If you work in a zoo, wildlife display or zoo-type facility and don’t like what’s going on, consider becoming a whistleblower. Insiders have been instrumental in exposing and correcting neglect, cruelty and mistreatment.


If you encounter captive wild animals in need of immediate help, call the Ontario animal welfare hotline at 1-833-9-ANIMAL (264625). Note: The hotline is for verbal complaints only.

To submit reports, photographs and other evidence about a wildlife in captivity situation, contact the:

Ministry of the Solicitor General
18th Floor, 25 Grosvenor Street
Toronto ON, M7A 1Y6

PHONE: (416) 326-5000

ONLINE FORM: Feedback form Ministry of the Solicitor General

Copy your correspondence to zoocheck@zoocheck.com


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