Help Ben the Bear and Other Animals at the Spruce Haven Zoo

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Spruce Haven Zoo is a small privately-operated zoo in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario. It houses a number of carnivores, including Ben the black bear and two African lions, plus an assortment of hoofstock and small animals. Ben has reportedly been at the zoo in a small, austere cage for more than 25 years.

Zoocheck has commissioned several experts to visit and assess the conditions at Spruce Haven Zoo. Each found the facility to be unsafe and many of the animals to be housed in inadequate conditions that fail to satisfy their biological and behavioural needs. 

Zoocheck has made several attempts to help the animals at Spruce Haven Zoo. Unfortunately, Ontario does not regulate zoos or the keeping of exotic wildlife in captivity and, to date, enforcement agencies have been unable to address many of the animal welfare issues at the zoo. In addition, they do not have a mandate to deal with public safety, so zoo issues must be addressed by the City of Sault Ste. Marie. Just a short while ago, the City took the step of directing staff to prepare a bylaw banning zoos in the municipality.

To help with this situation, Zoocheck has offered to relocate the Spruce Haven animals to sanctuaries at no cost to the city or the zoo, so that the animals can live out the remainder of their lives in better, more enhanced conditions.

Spruce Haven Zoo has had many years to improve conditions for Ben and the other animals, but there is little evidence that meaningful improvements have been made for many of them. In this time of heightened concern for the welfare of animals, this situation should not be allowed to continue. Therefore we the undersigned urge the Mayor and Members of Sault Ste. Marie City Council to move forward with the proposed prohibition on zoos as soon as possible.


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