Last month, the SPCA arrested the owner of the St. Edouard Zoo in Quebec, Norman Trahan, for several criminal charges of animal cruelty and neglect. The case was regarded as significant to animal advocacy groups. It was the first time in Quebec that animal-related charges of this nature had been laid.
This article contains graphic content that might not be suitable for some readers. This article contains descriptions of animal cruelty and abuse.
The Standards, Equity, Health and Safety Committee ordered the zoo to be completely closed on June 3rd since it was "impossible for workers to provide the necessary care for animals" in a safe manner.
Yesterday, a judge accepted the request to reveal the details of the animal cruelty situation at the St. Edouard Zoo, and the situation was in fact much worse than initially presented to the media.
The zoo's records document complaints from visitors - including young children - who had been attacked by the facility's animals. The visitors had been bitten and scratched, according to Le Nouvelliste. Veterinary reports from CBC state that "many animals were forced to eat food often contaminated with their own feces", and in some cases, the animals "could not drink because the water they had access to was completely frozen."
According to Sébastien Henley, a former veterinarian employed by the zoo, the situation has been going on for years. Henley had recommended urgent care and treatment for the animals but was refused due to lack of funds.
Henley recalled a situation in which three lemurs had suffered severe frostbite with necrosis of their fingers. While the situation was critical, the expert advised the owner to bring the lemurs to a specialist "for evaluation and surgical amputation of the extremities," says Radio-Canada . The owner of the zoo refused, left the lemurs in their critical condition for a week, and even claimed that "the animals could still breed despite frostbite."
Henley recommended euthanasia to end the animals' suffering, but his request was yet again denied. He then resigned from working for the zoo after less than 2 years of employment.
Between 2012 and 2017, the Ministry reportedly received a dozen reports of unsanitary and poor animal care conditions. The same report revealed that Trahan sold exotic animals to offer them as hunting trophies.
Trahan admitted that most of his animals were never examined by a veterinarian and did not treat them when they were sick. Animals that were in poor condition were hidden from the public or sold.
When the SPCA searched Trahan's home, they found corpses of two tigers, a grand duke and a golden pheasant.
Trahan continues to fight against the SPCA, refusing to hand over of the seized property of the zoo, including the sixty animals that inhabit it. He was released on bail under various conditions pending his return to court.