UPDATE: Letter to the Editor: Animal experts group puts City Council on blast for their “feeble attempt”

letter to the editor

Update: We received this note from CAZA at 8:42pm:

In CAZA’s Letter to the Editor we referenced that CAZA nor our partners had been consulted by the City of Sault Ste. Marie on the proposed bylaw concerning zoos.

Please note that we have been informed that contrary to prior information, that the local Humane Society has been in contact with City staff to express their concerns. We encourage you to speak with them directly should you have any questions.


This letter was received from Canada’s Accredited Zoos and Aquariums, Ottawa ON. caza.ca

City of Sault Ste. Marie Harms Animal Welfare & Puts Public Safety at Risk

Next week the City of Sault Ste. Marie will take unprecedented steps to bulldoze a set of new bylaws through Council which will set back animal welfare protections to a bygone era, and put the public safety of local residents at risk.

Despite City officials publicly stating that staff do not have the expertise available to make decisions about what constitutes appropriate welfare for the animals in Sault Ste. Marie, they have commissioned their wisdom regardless to put forth a recommendation to ban zoos completely in the municipality without concern for the ramifications to the animals who depend on their keepers and government to employ responsible welfare standards.

This feeble attempt to resolve an issue of staff proficiency has left zoological facilities and animal welfare societies with an unprecedented dilemma of what to do with the animals currently in their care.

CAZA has been advised that many of the animals affected by the proposed changes are too old to be moved – leaving no other choice but to be euthanized.

For those animals that are able to be moved, consideration has not been given to the dangers imposed to residents who reside in close proximity.

The proposed bylaw also ignores the troubling reality of the exotic animal black market trade which will thrive in a regulatory environment without standards, oversight or enforcement.

One would reasonably assume that if you lack the resources and expertise to make decisions on an important matter such as animal welfare, that expert and scientific opinion available through credible animal welfare organizations would be included in a consultative process.

An inclusive consultative process is a custom that is historically celebrated and enshrined in legislation across governments.

However, CAZA, nor our animal welfare partners such as the local Sault Ste. Marie Humane Society were consulted on the proposed bylaw on zoos or its potential ramifications – despite being told our input would be welcomed.

Those who care for animals in captivity have a significant responsibility to ensure that their welfare is a priority. CAZA strongly believes that if a zoological facility cannot uphold international best practices in animal welfare, organizational management, and veterinary care that their ability to hold animals in captivity should be questioned.

It is for this reason that CAZA offered to travel to Sault Ste. Marie to conduct an independent assessment of zoological facilities in the municipality. An offer that was never accepted nor acknowledged despite CAZA’s network of researchers, welfare experts, veterinarians, and ethicists.

To make rash decisions without scientific or ethical reflection as City staff has done equates government officials no better than those who choose not to care for the animals they have chosen to keep. This decision appears to have been made based on ideology and bureaucratic complacency as opposed to a genuine desire to protect animals and the public.

CAZA urges the local community to join us in pressing City Council to consider the harm they will impose to the animals in Sault Ste. Marie without properly consulting with animal welfare experts, and urge for meaningful standards creation which protects the animals that cannot protect themselves.

About CAZA

Founded in 1975, CAZA is the leading animal welfare standards development organization in Canada. Its standards development process includes expert opinion from researchers, biologists, and academia to ensure that our standards reflect the latest in animal welfare research, organizational management, and public safety
protocols. Through a science-based approach, CAZA’s standards bridge the ethical concerns regarding zoos and aquariums, and are currently the only pan-Canada set of standards mandating zoological facilities in the country. Out of hundreds of zoos in Canada, only 31 have received CAZA accreditation through independent inspection.


  1. I have never heard of Caza but if they are that concerned with what City Hall is doing and didn’t receive acknowledgement of their request to help, there is a process to follow to be placed on the agenda to speak on a subject. They should have done that and that would have secured their participation on the subject. This is their website address if you want to investigate before you defend them or not.
    If you google it, it will describe CAZA as:
    CAZA is a private charitable organization committed to the advancement of accredited zoos and aquariums as humane agencies of animal welfare, conservation, science and education.

  2. Why in the world would city council not accept help from experts when it is offered?! To not even acknowledge the offer from them to come to the Sault and advise the best way to go about this?? C’mon council members, you admit you don’t have the expertise and then don’t accept advice from those that do?
    I am of the belief we should stop having circuses and animal shows visit town for entertainment, but there has to be some steps taken for the legacy animals that are already here, and I’d like to hear what the experts think we should do with Spruce Haven Zoo.

    Don’t you dare turn down offers of help from animal experts that literally deal with this exact situation for a living, that is negligence and certainly not doing any due diligence, that’s your job.

    Defer this until we can hear from Caza! I will also email this to my ward Councillor!

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