Help Ben the bear and the other animals at the Spruce Haven Zoo in Sault Ste Marie

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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. Please sign this petition and read the updates to get the latest news and to find out additional ways that you can help.



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PREVIOUS UPDATE (March 14, 2018)


You may already know that on February 20th, Sault Ste Marie City Council discussed revisions to their Animal Care and Control Bylaw. During the meeting a motion was put forward by Councillors Steve Butland and Susan Myers that would exempt Spruce Haven Zoo from the bylaw allowing the zoo to operate however it wants without having to satisfy any municipal bylaw requirements for animal care, with no chance of ever being found in violation of the bylaw and, of course, for the animals it means they can be kept in their current conditions for the rest of their lives.

The Butland/Myers motion contained the clause "therefore be it resolved that City Council direct the Solicitor to include in the proposed new [Animal Care and Control] bylaw wording such that would exempt or grandfather Spruce Haven Nature Park from complying with any sections of the proposed new bylaw that would otherwise cause the operation to be in a state of non-compliance."

The motion passed 6 – 4 in favour, so the revised Animal Care and Control Bylaw was sent back to staff for redrafting. It will be brought back for consideration and a vote at a future Council meeting. 

When that happens, Council can send the bylaw back to staff again for more changes or Councillors can introduce new motions to amend the bylaw to address animal welfare and public safety issues or to remove the proposed exemption for Spruce Haven Zoo. Of course, it also means that Council could just vote and pass the new bylaw with the total exemption for Spruce Haven Zoo intact and no new amendments at all.

If you live in Sault Ste Marie or have been to the Spruce Haven Zoo and are concerned about it receiving an exemption please send an email to the City of Sault Ste. Marie Mayor and Members of Council urging them not to include any clause that exempts or grandfathers the Spruce Haven Zoo.

 Mayor and Members of Sault Ste Marie City Council