By NTW Editorial
Nov 06, 2009
It's astounding to think that in an era when we're supposed to be more enlightened about the welfare of animals and the frailty of many species because of the environmental carnage caused by humans, Ontario has no province-wide law covering the keeping of exotic animals.
Instead, the protection of species ranging from elephants and aardvarks to primates such as gorillas and chimpanzees is left to a mishmash of municipal bylaws scattered across this province.
Many municipalities have no such law, meaning there is little if no regulation of these animals, many of which are endangered in their own habitat.
The City of Thorold found the folly of not having such as bylaw recently, when a police raid on an alleged grow-op in a wooded area next to Highway 406 revealed three lions, a jaguar, monkeys and exotic birds in enclosures.
Because the animals aren't native to the province, even the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources has no jurisdiction, the way it would with black bears.
The city is one of two municipalities covered by the Lincoln County Humane Society that doesn't have an exotic animal bylaw. City staff have pulled together a draft bylaw that lists a wide range of animals that would for most people be banned, including everything from lions and tigers to primates, alligators, dolphins and whales, venomous snakes and black widow spiders.
Most of us have seen those pathetic roadside 'zoos' in many parts of Ontario, where miserable creatures are kept in often horrific conditions for the amusement of people.
The need for a province-wide law covering exotic animals, with wording built in to guarantee the humane treatment of native species such as beers and deer, is obvious.
It's time once and for all to demand Ontario bring in legislation doing exactly that.
Learn more about big cats and Big Cat Rescue at http://www.bigcatrescue.org