Plans for a reptile zoo in Toronto have been scrapped due to safety and animal welfare concerns
Plans for a huge reptile zoo on Toronto’s waterfront appear to be scrapped.
Reptilia, the reptile zoo with locations in Vaughan and Whitby, had hoped to bring in a collection of frogs, snakes, alligators, crocodiles, spiders, turtles, lizards and other creatures never seen in d ‘other zoos at 245 Queens Quay W., between Spadina and Lower Simcoe.
The location near the Harbourfront Center, the CN Tower, Rogers Center and the Ripley Aquarium seemed ideal for tourism, but several animal rights organizations opposed the plan.
Toronto may soon have a huge reptile zoo on the waterfront https://t.co/6YekJ0fP5i #Toronto
– blogTO (@blogTO) August 28, 2021
Reptilia needed an exemption from the city’s animal law, which bans alligators, crocodiles, lizards over two meters in length, and snakes over three meters in length.
Several people raised their concerns at a recent city council meeting.
Glenn De Baeremaeker of Zoocheck Canada argued that no public consultation had taken place, that the city lacked oversight capacity and that the approval could undermine the city’s reputation as a national leader in the protection of animal welfare.
“Providing an exemption creates a case for other exotic animal companies and institutions to also request exemptions,” Baeremaeker wrote.
Baeremaeker also argued that the Toronto Zoo could be hit financially and that the Toronto Zoo already offers a range of reptile species for viewing and education in a non-commercial setting.
The new issue also includes an update on the Reptilia Reptile Zoo plans for a Harbourfront location. City staff recommend that councilors reject their request to bring in poisonous crocodiles and snakes, etc. @KopunF wrote about it over the summer. https://t.co/hZ1Vy7JoiJ
– Matt Elliott (@GraphicMatt) November 26, 2021
Other opposing people worried about safety.
Zoologist Ronald Orenstein wrote that “exotic reptiles are well known sources of salmonella and other diseases”.
Sheryl Fink, Director of Canadian Wildlife Campaigns for the International Fund for Animal Welfare, said: “The exotic animal trade – which is directly and indirectly supported by commercial enterprises such as Reptilia – is widely recognized as a threat to wildlife populations, disrupting natural ecosystems, a risk to native wildlife populations wherever non-native exotic animals are kept, and poses an infectious disease threat to human health and safety. “
There were also supporters of the zoo. The York Quay Neighborhood Association has expressed its strong support in a letter to the council.
In a presentation to the council, Reptilia said their animals received the highest standards of care, came from rescues and were not taken from the wild, and that the zoo had a zero tolerance policy on abuse.
For those who fear snakes or other reptiles may escape, Reptilia is convinced that it will not happen.
“Since opening, Reptilia has never had an animal escape,” the zoo said. “We make sure we continue on this path by always improving our policies and training. All exhibits are checked daily by staff to ensure the animal cannot escape.”
Toronto City Council rejected the exemption, but Pedro Funes, CEO of Reptilia Inc., tells blogTO of the decision with incorrect reptile information.
“Reptilia will appeal the decision and aim to provide additional objective information and reasoning to demonstrate our case for our reptiles,” Funes said. “Our hope is, as always, that we can educate and encourage the acceptance and conservation of reptiles, like any other animal.”
This story has been updated with a comment from Reptilia.