In general, the mention of zoos still has the tendency to bring to mind good images – animal education, family trips, and so on. Unfortunately, once we take just a little closer look at the conditions animals live in at many zoos, the distressing reality of the situation becomes very clear. Recently, a shocking discovery in the case of animal treatment and their living conditions has been made at a roadside zoo in Ontario, thanks to an undercover video footage.

The footage from the Papanack Zoo outside Ottawa was released by Canadian animal law charity, Animal Justice. Recorded a year ago and released on August 11, 2017, the video shows employees of the zoo admitting to abusing the animals living on the premises as well as the distressing living conditions the animals are forced into.

The video brings to light a number of extremely alarming practices perpetrated at the zoo. Among them, Animal Justice enumerates baby animals being stolen from their mothers to be handled by the public and used as selfie props, a zoo manager describing his “training” a lion cub by hitting the animal repeatedly in the face, a raccoon, skunk, and bobcat being prodded and forced to pose for a photo shoot for a reality show, the management stating that several Père David deer broke their necks when running into the fence, and animals engaging in repetitive behaviors suggestive of zoochosis, like pacing and rocking, that manifest deep psychological distress.

Animal Justice stated that they had filed a legal complaint in the case. The group also emphasizes that this is not the first time the Papanack Zoo is sparking outrage – in 2016, an incident of the owners gunning down a lion Zeus after his escape from his cage caused great controversy. There is no question as to whether the establishment should be allowed to run any longer – since it has demonstrated such shocking mistreatment of and absolute lack of respect for the captive wildlife.

The organization urges everyone to take action – share the campaign to raise awareness about the issue and sign a letter to Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne and Community Safety Minister Marie-France Lalonde to end the cruelty at the zoo and protect the animals living there from any more unacceptable abuse.

This is sadly just one instance of abuse in captive animal attractions. It might be tempting to go see the animals at the zoo, but remember, these animals belong in the wild first and foremost and no matter how nice their enclosures may appear, they pale in comparison to the wild. If you’re interested in seeing animals up close and not contributing to people that profit from their captivity, consider visiting a credible sanctuary. To learn more, click here.