Media Release

Survey reveals 89% of British Columbians are opposed to the trade of exotic, wild animals for zoos and aquariums

VANCOUVER, March 3, 2022 – This World Wildlife Day, animal advocates ask for wild animals to be allowed to stay wild. Public support for animal captivity is waning, according to a new survey carried out by Research Co. The polling data reveals that 89% of British Columbians oppose the international trade of exotic, wild animals to be kept on display in permanent captivity in zoos and aquariums.

The data comes along with growing awareness of the disease risks of the exotic animal trade. One in four emerging diseases is zoonotic; many of the most serious illnesses of our lifetimes have originated in animals, including COVID-19. The international trade of animals increases the risk of disease spread.

There are serious ethical issues with keeping exotic animals (wild animals not native to B.C.) in captivity, says VHS Campaign Director Emily Pickett.

“It’s virtually impossible for a zoo or aquarium to meet the needs of exotic animals in captivity. They provide a small, enclosed, unnatural environment, often with a climate that is far different from these animals’ natural habitats. Animals succumb to zoochosis.”

Zoochosis describes when animal suffering is not physical, but psychological and emotional. Denying animals the freedom to engage in natural behaviours causes at best, frustration, and at worst, extreme neurological distress.

A December incident, in which a jaguar from the Greater Vancouver Zoo climbed up a feeding chute and bit an employee, exemplifies this zoo’s inability to meet the needs of its animals.

The survey also revealed mixed opinion on other zoo and aquarium practices. 49% of British Columbians support keeping animals in permanent captivity for entertainment and education, while 44% are opposed; 8% are undecided.

As society’s understanding of how exotic, wild animals suffer in captivity has grown in recent years, there is an opportunity for zoos and aquariums to move away from keeping animals in permanent captivity. Instead, facilities can embrace interactive, educational animal-free exhibits, along with rescue, rehabilitation and release programs for injured or orphaned native wildlife.

B.C. regulates the keeping of exotic animals through the “Controlled Alien Species” (CAS) regulation, which prohibits exotic species that pose the greatest threat to public health and safety.

Advocates concerned about the plight of captive exotic animals can sign a petition calling on the B.C. government to update the CAS regulation to include animal welfare considerations; prohibit the keeping, breeding and transport of all exotic species for permanent captivity; and close loopholes that currently permit CAS animals to be kept in zoos and aquariums, for film and tv, and in research and education institutions.


SOURCE Vancouver Humane Society 

For further information: Emily Pickett 604-416-2903

Related links: