An Ontario couple has shut their doors after a court ordered the closure of their private zoo. The Roaring Cat Retreat in Grand Bend has been forced to shut down because of new bylaws in Lambton Shores that prohibit the ownership of exotic animals. Owners Mark Drysdale and Tammy Nyyssonen have also been hit with a number of undisclosed fines by the municipality.According to CBC, they own eight lions, two tigers, a lynx, six lemurs, and other animals that are currently prohibited. The new bylaw was passed in April 2019 and continues to be enforced throughout the city. Yet, lawyer Paula Lombardi, who represents the two animal sanctuary owners, told CBC that the municipality acted hastily in their decision and that her clients were targeted. It reportedly only took the Municipality of Lambton Shores 15 minutes to pass the bylaw. They also reportedly never told her clients in advance that they were planning to prohibit most of their animals.According to CBC, they made it illegal to own lions and tigers just days after it was announced that the Roaring Cat Retreat would be opening. The animal sanctuary opened its doors in June, but will now have to move their animals elsewhere.
The Roaring Cat Retreat is on the ground of what used to be the Pineridge Zoo. That zoo operated in Grand Bend for 40 years, before it closed in 2006. It was later bought by Drysdale and Nyyssonen, who had plans for their animal sanctuary.
The area is surrounded by family homes, and there have been reports of concerned residents. Earlier in November of 2019, a pair of lion cubs actually escaped from Grand Bend and there was footage of them roaming around before they were returned.
There has been no mention of when the animals will need to be moved, but as of now, it looks like the Roaring Cat Retreat is no longer in operation. According to Exeter Today, Lambton Shores Mayor Bill Weber has said that the property is in a residential zone, which was a contributing factor to their decision. There are plenty of kids and families in the neighbourhood who are concerned about their safety due to the nature of the exotic animals, which can be dangerous.
This isn't the only time that zoos have been a cause for concern in Ontario. In the summertime, two Ontario zoos were on a list of animal tourist attractions that were deemed cruel and outdated. This was because of the way that animals were used to entertain the guests, with no regard for their well-being or natural environment. At this time, it is unclear if the owners of Roaring Cat Retreat will appeal the decision.