The Greater Vancouver Zoo has cancelled hands-on sessions with rabbits over Easter following word from the SPCA that a highly infectious disease that is 95 per cent fatal to bunnies has spread to the Lower Mainland. SPCA photo

Zoo cancels Easter rabbit hands-on experience because of disease

Biosecurity measures in place include quarantining Zoo rabbits

The Greater Vancouver Zoo in Langley has cancelled all hands-on encounters with its rabbits over the Easter weekend, citing the spread of rabbit hemorrhagic disease (RHD) to the Lower Mainland.

An online announcement posted to the Zoo website said zoo rabbits have been placed in quarantine.

“The safety and security of our animals and guests are our top concern and in order for us have a safe and Easter experience for everyone, we will have live bunnies for viewing only, and will no longer offer petting of our bunnies at this time,” the announcemen said.

“In compliance with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, our team has put together key biosecurity measures in place which includes the prolonging quarantine of our bunnies.”

The zoo had been planning to offer children a chance to learn how to care for bunnies over the holiday. Other weekend events, like the Easter egg hunt, were not affected.

B.C.’s Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development issued a press release in mid-March after testing confirmed that feral rabbits in Delta and Nanaimo had died from rabbit hemorrhagic disease (RHD) — an extremely infectious virus that attacks blood vessels and organs.

It was the third confirmed diagnosis of the virus in Canada and the first in B.C.

The disease does not pose a hazard to humans but has a 95 per cent mortality rate among rabbits.

All the dead rabbits have been feral European or domestic rabbits, meaning pet rabbits are at risk. The virus kills rabbits by affecting their blood vessels and attacking the liver and other organs, causing hemorrhages. Most affected rabbits die suddenly, but can show signs of listlessness, a lack of co-ordination, behavioural changes or trouble breathing before death. There is often bleeding from the nose at the time of death.

According to a fact sheet released by the BCSPCA, RHD can be spread easily through direct contact with bedding, food and water, as well as the feces and body fluids of infected animals. People, through their clothing, hands and vehicles can also spread virus to uninfected colonies, as can insects and wildlife that have contacted or fed on infected rabbits.



dan.ferguson@langleytimes.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Child’s play at Westerner Days

Balloons bring out the child in everyone

‘Do Indians have property rights?’ Former Alberta chief’s land dispute in court

STANDOFF, Alta. — A dispute between two families over land on Canada’s… Continue reading

Missing female found near Sundre

Local rancher finds missing female

Buyers turn to letters to snag homes in Canada’s hot real estate markets

TORONTO — Monica Martins and her husband had been looking for a… Continue reading

WATCH: Gazebo groundbreaking in Waskasoo

Fifty per cent of the $100,000 project is funded by a provincial government grant

Second World War Two-era B-29 Superfortress named ‘Fifi’ lands for first-ever Canadian tour

MONTREAL — A rare Second World War-era bomber named “Fifi” has touched… Continue reading

Magnus Cort Nielsen wins Stage 15 of Tour de France

CARCASSONNE, France — Magnus Cort Nielsen of Denmark sprinted away from two… Continue reading

Ryan Reynolds teases ‘Deadpool 2’ extended cut at Comic-Con

SAN DIEGO — Ryan Reynolds has made a triumphant return to San… Continue reading

‘Wonder Woman,’ ‘Aquaman’ and ‘Shazam!” thrill Comic-Con

SAN DIEGO — Warner Bros. brought out all the stops Saturday at… Continue reading

All shell, no shock: Lobster prices strong, season picks up

PORTLAND, Maine — New England’s lobster industry faces big new challenges in… Continue reading

Woman killed in collision near Olds

A woman is dead after a collision west of Olds Saturday afternoon.… Continue reading

Evacuation numbers remain at nearly 1,000 as B.C. wildfires rage on

SUMMERLAND, B.C. — Officials in British Columbia’s Okanagan region hope that fire… Continue reading

Survivors recount deadly Missouri duck boat sinking

BRANSON, Mo. — “Grab the baby!” Those were the last words Tia… Continue reading

Most Read


Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $185 for 260 issues (must live in delivery area to qualify) Unlimited Digital Access 99 cents for the first four weeks and then only $15 per month Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $15 a month