No More Elephant Rides At Accredited Canadian Zoos
Elephant rides at Canada’s accredited zoos have become a thing of the past. The country’s zoo certification body made the move to ban the rides at all facilities that it has accredited. The decision was welcomed by animal welfare advocates.
In Line With International Policy
Speaking to CTVNews.ca, Canada’s Accredited Zoos and Aquariums (CAZA) CEO Jim Facette said the new policy brough CAZA’s policies and regulations in line with those of the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA). WAZA is the global organisation for zoo accreditation bodies.
Facette explained that CAZA’s board conducted a review after WAZA revealed several policy changes. The goal of the review was to ensure CAZA’s policies and standards were consistent with WAZA’s. The US-based Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) had already banned elephant rides at its accredited facilities, among which are six zoos in Canada.
Ontario’s African Lion Safari was the last CAZA-accredited zoo in Canada where visitors could ride on elephants. However, the facility stopped offering rides in 2019. The voluntary move came after an elephant attacked a trainer, who suffered non-life-threatening injuries. The trainer has since returned to work.
In response to a question about CAZA’s allowing elephant rides to continue after 2011, the year in which AZA banned them, or after 2019, Facette said there had been no ride-related incidents between 2011 and 2019. He added that none of CAZA’s accredited facilities continued to offer rides after 2019.
Facette elaborated that wasn’t CAZA’s right to dictate to other countries about their zoo’s operations and vice versa. Instead, the body regularly examines what other countries do and weigh up whether those actions should be considered within the Canadian context.
A Long-Overdue Move
World Animal Protection campaign director Melissa Matlow welcomed CAZA’s decision, which she described as long overdue in a phone call to CTVNews.ca. The animal welfare advocate said that rides caused hardship for elephants as the activity does not come naturally to the animals.
Matlow elaborated that, even when in captivity, elephants are undomesticated. As they are still wild animals, they still have natural behaviours as well as fears. They only allow people on them for rides after harsh training that instils fear of people in them. Elephants’ obedience of commands is based on that fear.
While Matlow welcomed the move by CAZA, she added that she would Ontario’s provincial government enact legislation to ban various forms of wildlife entertainment, from elephant rides to tiger selfies. She explained that all forms of wildlife entertainment that sees animals forced to do unnatural things are wrong and should be prohibited by appropriate legislation.