Shadow the grizzly eats an apple inside her enclosure at the Greater Vancouver Zoo. (Black Press file photo)

B.C. zoo vows change after report of animals suffering ‘boredom and frustration’

Manager promises upgrades, including a safari park and better accommodation for big cats

Improvements are in the works for the Greater Vancouver Zoo in Aldergrove that will focus on B.C and Canadian wildlife, as well as upgrading facilities for more exotic animals.

That’s according to new zoo general manager Serge Lussier, following a report released Monday (Dec. 30) that said many animals at the zoo were living in “barren, under-sized cages and enclosures that restrict them from engaging in natural behaviours.”

In his response Tuesday (Dec. 31), Lussier told Black Press the zoo has a “comprehensive enrichment program” to promote a “healthy psychology and behavioural ecology.”

“Animal’s lives are enriched on a daily basis through novel items and behavioural conditioning,” Lussier said.

The report by the Vancouver Humane Society was prepared by Zoocheck, a Canadian-based international wildlife protection charity, based on “issues identified during three separate visits.”

It called on the zoo to improve conditions for its animals and to move away from “keeping animals unsuited to B.C.’s climate.”

Lussier said planned improvements to the zoo over the next few years will include a conservation and education centre in 2020, the transformation of half the site into a safari park devoted to B.C. and Canadian wildlife in 2021, a “large feline complex” in 2022, and an African Savannah project in 2023 with an elevated walkway and observatory.

All the changes will help position it as “the zoo of the future,” Lussier predicted.

“The potential for this institution is immense,” Lussier added.

Lussier noted the zoo has twice won the Peter Karsten In-situ conservation award, in 2015, for workng on recovering the endangered western painted turtle and again in 2019 for restoration work completed on the Salmon River’s riparian habitat.

“Our vision remains to be a leader in the conservation efforts of animals and protection of the habitat they live in and will continue to inspire appreciation of our ecosystems and support conservation efforts by engaging our guests and the community,” Lussier said.

In the report, Zoocheck noted there have been improvements since the charity began issuing reports on the Greater Vancouver Zoo beginning in 1997. The zoo seems to have made a number of “significant, very positive, changes” but adding “some longstanding issues remain problematic and should be addressed.”

“They include, but are not limited to, lack of space for certain species, lack of appropriate environmental conditions, lack of environmental and behavioural enrichment, lack of shelter and privacy areas, lack of proper social contexts, excess ground water and water logging of enclosure substrates.”

Vancouver Humane Society spokesperson Peter Fricker said the zoo doesn’t provide animals with a stimulating environment that allows natural activities such as climbing, foraging or digging.

“The main issue is a lack of enrichment,” Fricker said.

Given the amount of space available on the 120-acre site, the zoo should build larger enclosures with more for animals to do, “to alleviate boredom and frustration,” he said.

READ MORE: Greater Vancouver Zoo animals suffer ‘boredom and frustration’ Humane Society says

It is the largest facility of its kind in B.C. and houses more than 140 wild and exotic animals including lions, a tiger, cheetah, giraffe and hippos.

It also contributes to conservation efforts on various fronts including work to build back the population of the spotted frog and the Western painted turtle.

READ ALSO: Zoo awarded for its restoration of the Salmon River

Over the years, the zoo has faced controversy over the untimely death of some giraffes and the treatment of one of its hippos.

An outdoor enclosure was built for the hippo, including a large pond, after the criticism.

There have been protests by animal rights activists at the zoo from time to time.



dan.ferguson@langleyadvancetimes.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Enrolment is down across the entire district. File photo
SD 20 experiences small decline in student enrolment

District staff said more parents are homeschooling their children this year due to COVID-19 crisis

Internet service in the West Kootenay is improving thanks to provincial government grants. File photo
COVID-19 support program brings faster internet to rural communities

The province has provided grants to local internet providers

An image from Castlegar city council on Zoom.
Castlegar council decides to keep meeting online

City council meetings will remain online at least until January

The Kootenay Boundary Physician Association is sponsoring a pumpkin carving contest at KBRH. Photo: Submitted
‘Carve your hearts out’ at Kootenay Boundary Regional Hospital

Pumpkin carvings by KBRH staff will be on display Thursday and Friday in the hospital lobby

First responders at a crash scene near Rossland on Thursday, Oct. 22. Photo: Trail RCMP
First snow in West Kootenay causes vehicle collisions

The Trail and Greater District RCMP’s weekly brief contains details on collisions

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry arrives for briefing on the COVID-19 situation, B.C. legislature, Oct. 26, 2020 (B.C. government)
B.C. records 217 more COVID-19 cases, mask use urged

Infection spike continues, 21 senior facilities affected

Premier-elect John Horgan and cabinet ministers are sworn in for the first time at Government House in Victoria, July 18, 2017. (Arnold Lim/Black Press)
Pandemic payments have to wait for B.C. vote count, swearing-in

Small businesses advised to apply even if they don’t qualify

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Glen Byle spent election night at home with his kids. Photo: Submitted
A post-election message from Conservative Party candidate Glen Byle

Glen Byle was a Conservative Party candidate for Kootenay West in the provincial election.

Andrew Duncan was the Green candidate for Kootenay West. Photo: Submitted
A post-election message from Green Party candidate Andrew Duncan

Andrew Duncan was a Green Party candidate for Kootenay West in the provincial election.

A raccoon paid a visit to a Toronto Tim Hortons on Oct. 22, 2020. (shecallsmedrew/Twitter)
Who are you calling a trash panda? Raccoon takes a shift at Toronto Tim Hortons

Tim Hortons said animal control was called as soon they saw the surprise visitor

The duffel bags were found to contain 84 pounds of cocaine, valued at approximately $1.2 million and 198 pounds of methamphetamine, valued at approximately $960,000. Photo courtesy U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
2 men accused of fleeing border agents near U.S.-B.C. border with $2M in drugs

Cocaine and methamphetamine seized by U.S. law enforcement in remote Idaho area near Canadian border

Pixabay photo
‘Horrific’ abuse of volunteers, staff by parents must stop: Chilliwack soccer club

Parents have become abusive after being told COVID-19 rules, email says

Most Read