Innisfail zookeeper Serena Bos is among those backing legislation aimed at offering more protection for zoo animals.
“Obviously, we’re always 100 per cent for anything that is going to be in the best interests of animals,” said bos, whose family runs Discovery Wildlife Park and Campground located just north of Innisfail.
New federal legislation introduced last week in the Senate would phase out elephant captivity in Canada and offers new legal protections for captive big cats, bears, wolves, seals, sea lions, walruses, some species of monkeys and dangerous reptiles, such as crocodiles and giant pythons.
Named the Jane Goodall Act after the world-renowned chimpanzee expert and conservationist, the legislation is touted as proposing some of the strongest animal protection measures in the world.
The bill says that dolphins, great apes, elephants and other non-domesticated animals should not be kept in captivity except for justifiable purposes, such as it is in the animals’ best interests, including their welfare or to promote conservation, or for non-harmful scientific research. Acquiring animals under the act would require a permit.
After reviewing the proposed legislation, Bos said it does not look like it will change the way the zoo operates, which is already subject to stringent regulations.
“In Alberta, we have really tight regulations compared to a lot of places in Canada already,” she said. “So, in a lot of aspects I don’t think it will have as large an impact in Alberta as it may in other provinces.”
A number of zoos, including the Calgary Zoo, have already expressed support for the bill. Others that have given their endorsement are the Toronto Zoo, Quebec’s Granby Zoo, Winnipeg’s Assiniboine Park Zoo and the Montreal Biodome.
Bos expects to get more information on what the intended regulations will cover and how they will be applied as the legislation moves through the process to become law.
“There’s definitely a lot of terminology that needs to be defined to give a clear understanding of the species being covered and the institutions that are closed. I guess the future will tell us more.”