A report issued by the Vancouver Humane Society and Zoochek states that some Greater Vancouver Zoo animals are suffering as a result of insufficient living conditions, resulting in "boredom" and "frustration," among other negative effects. Officials are now recommending a series of changes in order to improve the quality of the animals' lives. The report touches on several key concerns at the zoo's 120-acre property, which houses around 600 animals. 

While zoos are meant to be a place of enrichment for exotic creatures, a new report finds that the Greater Vancouver Zoo is lacking some fundamentals when it comes to animal care. 

According to the report, the zoo is being called on to improve the living conditions of its wildlife.

Animals in the zoo's care, such as hippos and giraffes, are living in “barren, under sized” enclosures. This makes it difficult for animals to engage in natural behaviours. 

According to CBC News, the Siberian tiger exhibit, for instance, has a worn path along the fence line of the enclosure due to the animal pacing back and forth all day long. 

The report states that many of the animals are suffering from “deteriorating physical fitness, boredom, frustration, stress and increased risk of illness.”

These key issues also include inappropriate housing for social species, water-logged and damp enclosure substrates and breeding practices.

Peter Fricker of the Vancouver Humane Society spoke with CTV News about the report. According to Fricker, it's important for zoos to change up the habitats on a regular basis to provide the same kind of simulation animals would receive in the wild. 

Enrichment options vary depending on the animal but could include “whole carcass feeding, hiding food treats, adding scents, durable play objects, or working-for-food games.”

For example, Vancouver Aquarium provides enrichment activities, such as food play with their otters, quite a bit.

On special occasions like Valentine's Day, the otters often receive frozen food as gifts that are designed as play for them.

Fricker also stated that there are animals at this zoo that are not suitable for B.C.’s climate. Fricker told CTV News that giraffes were just one example of animals that do not belong on the West coast of Canada. 

The report states that since previous reports were written in 1997, 2003, and 2008, significant and very positive changes have been made, “however, some longstanding issues remain problematic and should be addressed.”

Altogether, the report calls for seven changes. These recommendations include dispersing animals that are not meant for living in the lower mainland climate.

It also suggests dispersing animals that the zoo does not have the resources for, and the removal of the remaining older and “sub-optimal” cages.

It also urges the zoo to "expand smaller enclosures, adapting a behaviour-based husbandry regime, incorporating animal welfare as a foundational tenet, and developing and delivering a zoo-wide environmental and behavioural enrichment program."

Narcity has reached out to the Greater Vancouver Zoo for a comment. We will update the story once we hear back.

This is not the first time a zoo in Canada has been called out for problematic conditions. Earlier this year, a zoo in central Quebec closed down following an extensive animal cruelty investigation. 

But while some zoos have come under fire, other zoos in Canada are being praised for their work. 

The Calgary Zoo, for instance, has been applauded for trying to save the giant panda species from going extinct. 

Even the Vancouver Aquarium has won the title of being called one of the best aquariums in North America. 


There are stories everywhere. If you spot a newsworthy event in your city, send us a message, photo, or video @NarcityCanada on Twitter and Instagram.


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