Earlier this year, a zoo owner in central Quebec was facing a number of charges after having nearly 200 animals seized. Now, officials have ruled ordered the Quebec St. Édouard Zoo to permanently closed following an animal cruelty investigation and due to the facility's inability to provide proper care to the animals.
On May 21, 2019, Normand Trahan, owner of St. Édouard Zoo, was arrested by SPCA investigators on charges of animal neglect and cruelty. Prior to his arrest, Quebec’s Wildlife Ministry had inspected the zoo several times, requesting that improvements be made to the living conditions.
According to the Humane Society International (HSI) website, this resulted in nearly 200 animals being seized from the 69-year-old. If found guilty, he could face up to five years in prison with a lifetime ban of owning an animal. (HSI) has stated that this could be the biggest case of animal cruelty in Canadian history.
According to the Montreal Gazette, the SPCA stated that Trahan would face two charges under the Criminal Code; one count each of criminal animal neglect and criminal animal cruelty.
The SPCA began their investigation after a zoo attendee called them in 2018. CBC has stated that the complaint led to the discovery of “other pieces of evidence.”
Following an initial inspection in October 2018, two alpacas were seized. CBC also stated that four animal carcasses, including two tigers, were found along with the bodies of two birds.
HSI has stepped in to take care of the remaining animals by finding them new homes in North America.
Now, the Montreal SPCA have come forward to say that following the inspection of the zoo, the Committee on Standards, Equity, Health and Safety at Work (CNESST) concluded that it is improbable for workers to provide the necessary care to animals in a safe manner because of the “facilities’ many deficiencies.”
In a statement posted on Facebook, they also said that it is impossible to make the premises safe in the presence of animals.
As a result, the commission has ordered the complete closure of the site, while allowing workers to continue caring for the animals until they are evacuated.
The Montreal SPCA and Canada’s Accredited Zoo and Aquariums (CAZA) are now working alongside one another to relocate the animals as quickly as possible.
According to CBC, between 2010 and 2016, the zoo owner had been fined on several occasions for minor offences pertaining to the zoo. The infractions that lead to the closure allegedly took place between May 2016 and October 2018.
"To our knowledge this is the first time in Canada that a zoo owner is facing criminal animal cruelty charges and it’s also the first time in the history of Quebec that animal cruelty charges have been laid by way of indictment; which is a type of prosecution that is reserved for the most series offences and opens the door the harsher penalties,” said Sophie Gaillard Montreal SPCA.
Source: Narcity Quebec