Letter: Will Sault Ste. Marie be known as a Compassionate or a Heartless City on the World Stage?


Today city council will vote on whether or not Spruce Haven will be grandfathered by a resolution clause put forward by Councillors Susan Meyers and Steve Butland that would allow the status quo to remain (carnivores continue to suffer) at Spruce Haven if council votes in favour of it.

The Grandfathering resolution is mind baffling to me as this issue came to council BECAUSE of the substandard conditions at Spruce Haven for Ben the Bear and the others carnivores there.  Even more baffling to me, when I spoke to Steve Butland over the phone on Sunday,  he admitted he knew “nothing about wild animals” and he stated that he “did not” read the expert zoologist  Dr. Martyn Obbard report https://www.zoocheck.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/Obbard-Spruce-Haven-Report.pdf , provided to the city councillors months ago, on Spruce Haven when I asked him.  So Councillor Steve Butland (along with Concillor Susan Meyers) is bringing forth a resolution without even bothering to read the expert report  information provided on what the animal care, housing and habitat issues are at Spruce Haven and the rationale as to why these animals need to be removed to a sanctuary?  This certainly appears to me to be totally irresponsible of Councillor Steve Butland as a representative of the residents of this city, to not be up to speed on the background information provided many months ago and I told him just that.  Where is the due diligence on the role of the Councillor Butland to review all of the information provided, to educate himself on the issue BEFORE bringing a resolution forward?

The city is trying to market themselves as a progressive modern city, on a global stage, yet some want to continue to live in the dark ages of keeping animals captive, suffering and exhibiting signs of stress due to too small cages with no habitat enhancements, stimulation or room to roam or exercise and where the only educational lesson provided to visitors at Spruce Haven is a sad one of unacceptable and unnecessary cruelty.

One only has to ‘Google’  Spruce Haven on Trip Advisor to see the scathing reviews from visitors and tourists  far and wide that took the time to write in to warn people they will only see sadness, cruelty and deplorable conditions at Spruce Haven.

How can any reasonable person think it is OK to keep a bear in a 20 ft x 20 ft cage for its entire life?  Or to house wolves right next to geese and ducks with only a wire see through fence separating the two predator and prey species?  That in itself would be torturous for both species and shows a total lack of understanding or concern for wildlife by the Spruce Haven owners.  Never mind Annabel the coyote (a pack animal) housed in isolation, in nothing bigger than a small dog run.  The African Lions pacing back and forth with nowhere to go or the Lynx and Cougar all exhibiting signs of stress.  Apparently all of their cages flood in the spring too, how healthy can that be for the animals with no higher ground to move to?

What will happen to these animals when the Marshalls are not physically able to look after them anymore, which is fast approaching as they themselves are now into their own elder twilight years?

No positive benefit at all is provided back to our city by allowing this substandard private facility to continue.  If anything it makes Sault Ste. Marie look like a cruel and heatless city to the rest of the world.

Ben the bear , Thelma and Louise, Annabel the Coyote, the Cougar, the Lynx and the Wolves have all suffered for far too long and deserve to be re-homed in specie specific accredited sanctuaries with room to roam to experience more enjoyable lives at the hands of humans,  for whatever time they have left.

This isn’t even about the Marshalls, it is about DOING THE RIGHT THING now that we all know better!

Once one becomes aware of suffering you cannot become unaware of it and you do what you can to change it or lessen the suffering.  I believe we have a duty to do our part to affect change to provide a better world for all and especially for the suffering caused by humans whether intentional or not and to SPEAK UP FOR THOSE THAT CANNOT SPEAK FOR THEMSELVES.

What is the GIFT in all of this?  It would be massively expensive to fund moving all of these large carnivores, but Spruce Haven has been offered this WONDERFUL GIFT to re-home all of their carnivores AT NO COST to SPRUCE HAVEN or THE CITY, by Zoocheck and their wildlife professionals, simply because they have compassion and care about  what is in the best interest of the animals, PERIOD.  This is an incredible, AMAZINGLY GENEROUS OFFER that should not be refused, but rather welcomed with gratitude by Spruce Haven and the City.

The World is watching Sault Ste. Marie and how it handles this important captive wildlife welfare issue.  No less than 3 petitions to remove Ben the Bear and the carnivores from Spruce Haven are currently online as follows:







One petition is from Zoocheck with 9216 signatures, another has 913 signatures and yet another has 268,444 signatures from around the world at the time of this writing.

Will Sault Ste. Marie be known on the World Stage to be a Compassionate or a Heartless City?  We’re about to find out at today’s council meeting.


Katherine G. MacRae


  1. I am sickened by the total lack of empathy or ANY understanding of the deplorable living conditions of the carnivores at Spruce Haven clearly demonstrated by the City Councillors that voted in favour (Councillors Butland, Meyers, Grandinetti, Fata, Krmpotich, Bruni) of Grandfathering cruelty at Spruce Haven tonight.

    It was also appalling to listen to the some of the questions and realize that these councillors had not done ANY RESEARCH nor read the information provided and I would bet money that most of them have never even visited Spruce Haven to see the miserable cages the animals are housed in too.

    So now after 31 years Spruce Haven is going to make improvements for the animals? I’d bet money that isn’t ever going to happen too.

  2. Tarzan is on vacation and the monkeys are in charge!
    Please, once an forever, kick those dinosaurs out of council.

  3. You watch. They will let them keep the animals.
    A typical uninformed and wrong decision. Just one of many more to come.
    We need a whole fresh city council.

  4. City Councillors: Please don’t decide to grandfather in cruelty to these poor animals. The world is watching and these animals have suffered enough. Let’s choose to let them live out their lives in adequate facilities.

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