Over 100 exotic animals have been rescued from a roadside zoo in Canada after years of abuse and neglect.
The animals – including lions, tigers, zebras, camels, kangaroos, and bears – were seized by Humane Society International yesterday (May 21).
The animals were provided with on-site care before transportation to a network of sanctuaries around Canada and the United States.
Volunteers from Humane Society International (HSI) described the sights at this unaccredited zoo as ‘disturbing,’ with many of the animals confined to dark, barren, dilapidated enclosures.
Others were living in completely inadequate shelters with minimal protection from the elements, and some of the animals did not appear to have access to water or food.
The animals were suffering from a variety of medical conditions and were lacking veterinary care, with some showing signs of significant psychological distress including compulsive, constant pacing.
With the support of the Eric S. Margolis Family Foundation, HSI are currently working alongside the Montreal SPCA in the rescue of the animals from the roadside zoo in St-Édouard-de-Maskinongé, Quebec.
Rebecca Aldworth, executive director of Humane Society International/Canada, stated:
We are pleased to play a critical role in getting these deserving animals to safety, with the incredible support of the Eric S. Margolis Family Foundation. It was disturbing to see this facility.
Notably, dead and ill animals have been removed or seized from this property in recent months. This case underscores the importance of strong animal welfare provisions in Canada’s Criminal Code, particularly as they apply to situations of gross neglect.
This particular roadside zoo has a long history of warnings and charges from the Quebec government; when the Montreal SPCA first inspected the facility in August 2018, they found four dead animals at the site.
Inspectors also noticed the poor physical state of other animals and their habitat, even seizing two alpacas who were in particularly poor condition.
This intervention led to criminal proceedings, with the owner of the zoo charged with two counts of criminal animal neglect and cruelty between 2016 and 2018.
Eric Margolis, founder of the Eric S. Margolis Family Foundation, said:
Our foundation supports organisations that provide care for abused, neglected and abandoned animals, both wild and domesticated.
We will always support the work of organisations like HSI/Canada and Friends of HSI, who defend those who cannot defend themselves.
If convicted, the accused could face a five-year prison sentence and a lifetime ban on having custody or control of any animal.
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A Broadcast Journalism Masters graduate who went on to achieve an NCTJ level 3 Diploma in Journalism, Lucy has done stints at ITV, BBC Inside Out and Key 103. While working as a journalist for UNILAD, Lucy has reported on breaking news stories while also writing features about mental health, cervical screening awareness, and Little Mix (who she is unapologetically obsessed with).