Elephant rides prohibited in accredited zoos in Canada

VANCOUVER – The certification body for zoos in Canada has banned elephant rides at all of its accredited facilities, a move that animal welfare advocates say is long overdue.

“I think it’s a good move. It’s a no-brainer, it should have happened way before,” Animal welfare advocate Melissa Matlow, campaign manager for World Animal told CTVNews.ca on the phone Friday. Protection.

Jim Facette, CEO of Accredited Zoos and Aquariums of Canada (CAZA), told CTVNews.ca that the new policy has been put in place to align CAZA bylaws and policies with those of the World Association of Zoos and aquariums (WAZA), the organization of accreditation bodies for zoos around the world.

“Recently our global body proposed policy changes,” Facette said on a phone call Friday. “Our board asked our [accreditation commission] conduct a review that would ensure that we are consistent with WAZA policy and standards, whether it’s elephant rides and anything else. “

Matlow says elephant rides are something outside of the natural activity of elephants and cause a lot of hardship for the animals.

“Elephants are wild animals, even if they are in captivity. They have not been domesticated. So they still have their natural behaviors and their fears,” she said. “In order for a person on top of them to take a ride, they must be trained hard to fear people and obey those orders.”

“It’s so archaic and it just doesn’t belong in a professional zoo.”

Elephant rides had previously been banned in zoos accredited by the American Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), which has six Canadian zoos among its members.

The African Lion Safari in Ontario was the last CAZA accredited zoo in Canada to offer elephant rides, but voluntarily ceased offering rides in 2019, after a trainer was attacked by an elephant and suffered non-life threatening injuries. Facette said the coach returned to work after recovering and “is doing very well”.

When asked why AZA didn’t ban elephant rides in 2011 when AZA did, or in 2019 after the African Lion Safari incident, Facette replied saying that there had been no incidents related to elephant rides in its zoos between 2011 and 2019, and that no zoo had offered rides after 2019.

“It’s not for me to look back as to why it happened, why it didn’t happen at one point versus another,” Facette said.

“It is not for CAZA to dictate to another country what it should or should not do, or vice versa. We do it on a regular basis, look at what has been done elsewhere in the world and see if it’s something we need to do here in Canada, given the circumstances in which we find ourselves here in Canada, ”he said. for follow-up.

Matlow still wants the Ontario provincial government to enact legislation banning elephant rides and other forms of animal entertainment, like tiger selfies.

“There are other forms of animal entertainment where animals are forced to do unnatural things to entertain people, and I think they are all wrong, and they should all be banned in the necessary legislation,” a- she declared.

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