Step into Reality: New pictures and video from GVZOO.

Here are 2 minutes in the life of a Tiger at GVZOo. Note that the constant pacing at the fence line has worn a path into the ground. The zoo will try to explain any of these neuroses as “normal” but this is a well noted pattern with maladaptive or unhappy animals. It doesn’t need to be obvious and overt to be cruel. Let’s observe reality together and change this. Boycott GVZOO until they become dedicated to being a sanctuary that ONLY does rescue and service for animals, not for-profit captivity with distraction “conservation and rescue” practices meant to excuse the death of countless exotic animals ill-suited for this dilapidated old facility and BC’s climate.

Here are some more pictures, taken on Aug 29, 2016 by activists who are not on the radar of the GVZoo. We will continue to visit there to document the legacy of tragedy that is GVZOO:


The Red Panda/GVZoo’s Rakesh PR Spin Louder Than Grief


In the WeSaid/TheySaid section, you will note that GVZoo manager Jody Henderson states that animals held by GVZoo wouldn’t be able to move to sanctuaries, that the risk would be simply too great to their health. What is difficult to reconcile is that Red Panda Brothers Rakesh and Arun were moved to GVZoo from Assiniboine Zoo. Even after a quarantine period, Rakesh fell ill from a fungal infection and died, about 6 weeks after arriving. The Zoo immediately declared that the infection that killed Rakesh came from Winnipeg, not locally, as if to pre-emptively distance themselves from any fault. While we accept that it wasn’t local pathogens that killed Rakesh, we feel his life should have been respected in the way that Ms. Henderson states other animals are cared for as an absolute. It was ultimately captivity that killed Rakesh, and if GVZooGM believes that animals shouldn’t be moved, why bring in new (live, sentient) exhibits if there is such a risk?

The GVZoo says that Red Pandas are part of a Species Survival Program- which is essentially a way for Zoos to captive breed animals for display to prevent what they call “total extinction.” This does not help the wild population, as it is still in notable decline. Even still, Zoos have almost never saved a species from decline- though they take credit for the black footed ferret (a conservation led effort with some consultation from zoos) the facility that managed the populations was closed to the public and not a for-profit space. Interestingly, more than half the animals in SSP’s aren’t even endangered. The Phoenix Zoo has reintroduced the Oryx it bred to wild herds, and was among the first and only to achieve a feat like this. These are rare occurrences at best, and it still doesn’t mean that other exotic animals should die there just because one positive event happened for another animal.  Zoos have been criticized for selecting animals that are cute, exotic, or other types of advantageous for display or with high public interest. Red Pandas are known to be cute and draw attendance. When profit is the concern like this, one cannot reconcile their actions with their words, as we see with Ms. Henderson. It is worthy to mention that many other species went fully extinct while held in zoos. GVZoo has never published any notable science or participated in any meaningful recovery. Even their conservation efforts as detailed in another post are highly questionable.

A recent study published on SSP efficacy and endangered animal breeding practices shed a lot of light on if it is even feasible or worthwhile to breed endangered species in captivity.

Conservation and Rescue facilities are animal led, release/rehab focussed educational centres that do not profit from captivity. It is not entertainment. These are actions taken in service of animals.

GVZoo employee assaults protestor (VIDEO), GVZoo’s flimsy “apology”

GVZoo has a problem. In addition to fading relevance and increasing discomfort with keeping animals in captivity for entertainment in the view of the public, they treat those that legally oppose them like this:

The Zoo employee moves off the property line, and points an industrial gas blower upwards, blowing debris all over the protesters. Safety regulations state that a gas blower  should always be directed below the waist, toward the ground to avoid eye injuries. In this case, a single mother sustained a cut to her lips and gums.  Later, he was sent home and drove his car slowly, until speeding up suddenly toward the protest group in a threatening manner. See him restrained and negotiated with by Safari Sharon twice.

LGVZA co- Organizer David Isbister was angry and sent this correspondence to GVZoo GM Jody Henderson: 

Good day Ms. Henderson.

After your employee assaulted an activist with a leaf blower that caused her a bleeding lip and nose, and endangered many others by speeding recklessly toward them, nearly hitting a number of us, we are demanding action. We want this addressed, as a matter separate from our protest which will remain ongoing. Assault and attempted assault with a deadly weapon are brutal actions to take against a peaceful protest, and we want to be apologized to publicly and to know clearly in writing what action you will take. This is related to an employee conduct complaint, not the protest, so it is important to know that we expect this to be addressed.

We have multiple angles of both events on video, and have fully documented the wounds and statement of the activist who was injured, as well as his license plate number (620 PAM).  There were children there on both sides of the fence. How awful this was, and you were asked directly to condemn this violent behaviour and you wouldn’t.

How you address this will determine how we will proceed hereafter.
Thanks for your time in reading. We would like your response within 24 hours ideally. Public apology and how you will address the situation please. The video is circulating and as of right now, has been seen by 1500 people. Many express outrage that the legal action of protest is met with assault and threats.


And after almost a week, here is what Jody replied:

Response to protesters Nov 24 15

It is interesting that there is no true apology and they took a moment to blame “loud noise” for a human coming off the property line to assault peaceful protesters. The “loud noise” were chants  100 feet or more back from the gate outside the property line, and the use of a megaphone. The zoo has a loudspeaker system that can be heard from even farther back as it is in the centre of the zoo and is easily heard clearly from the street. Another example of GVZoo claiming that specifically protester noise stresses animals out, yet thousands of people marching through, tapping windows, kids shrieking , loudspeakers for their shows, and a train whistle are apparently exempt from this same scrutiny.

A recent review  from July 12 shows that the zoo doesn’t take as clear a stand when it comes to paying customers:  

“….I was a little disappointed, however, when a large group of kids (15-20) who seemed to be part of a day camp were allowed to stand and scream at the lions. I said something to them, but as a stranger they didn’t listen. Not a single zoo staff member did a thing. The male lion was obviously agitated by it (and he did spray on the group which gave me a bit of satisfaction). Perhaps The Greater Vancouver Zoo should ensure its staff does a bit more to protect the animals from harassment.”

OP: ‘Sarah Z’


Fun Facts: Conservation Efforts and some number crunching!

GVZoo Prides itself on contributing to conservation, and have been collecting a 25 cent “Conservation Fee” as part of admission. This has resulted in 90,000 dollars being collected over the past 5 years through a combination of this admission revenue and wishing well stations for people to donate to as well as other client funded donor drives and programs. Their most recent contribution was $32,ooo to a few projects that they list on their site. The Zoo also hosts “conservation” themed events, such as a lego sculpture contest with a higher admission cost than even that which is listed below.

Adult Admission:                          $24.00 – .25 is 1%
Child Admission:                          $18.00     .25 is 1.4%

Day Parking:         $6.00
Bicycle Rental:     $18.00/hour

Other revenue streams: Two concession areas, a gift shop, wheelchair/stroller rentals, birthday party/facility rentals, miniature train, interpretive tours, animal experiences, overnight camp-ins, etc.

With all the Zoo does to generate revenue, even relying on public donation to fund conservation in their own name- is less than 1% enough if they purport to have a “focus” on conservation?

Fun Facts: Animal Life Spans

Here are some of the life spans from animals kept by the zoo, and the average lifespan of their wild counterparts. Use these fun facts to critically examine whether GVZoo keeps animals alive the same or longer, or if animals die prematurely!

IN THE WILD                                                              AT THE GVZOO

Hippos: 40 Years                                                        Gretrude: 22 years old
                                                                                         Harvey:     21 years old
                                                                                         Average: 21.5 years 

Siberian Tigers:                                                        Hani:             2 years old
10-14 years (wild)                                                    Sweetie:    
18 years old
20-35 years (captivity)                                              
 Average: 10 years 

*Interesting fact: the zoo uses the wild life span of Siberian tigers as a barometer for their own success, calling this number an average CAPTIVE life span. Though captivity is not ethical, predatory cats in captivity can often outlive their wild counterparts by a fair margin. With presumably no parasites, predators, and a steady diet with veterinary care, why can’t GVZoo meet or exceed average lifespans?

Rothschild Giraffe: 20- 25 years                       Un-named Baby: .05 years
                                                                                      Jafari:                  12 years old
                                                                                      Eleah:                  23 years old
                                                                                      Amryn:                  3 years old
                                                                                            Average: 8.75 Years

Zebras:                                                                             Zebra 1:              5 years old
10-15 years (wild)                                                        Zebra 2:             6 years old
30-40 (captivity-                                                          Zebra 3:             9 years old
due to lack of predators)                                         Zebra 4:            14 years old
Average: 8.5 years 

These four Zebra died simultaneously after the Zoo introduced territorial adversaries, (Cape Buffalo) triggering a predator-aversion response called Exertion Myopathy. In laymen’s terms: death from fear or panic.


Hippo Facts/ GVZoo’s Hazina the Hippo!

Did you know that even though Hippos spend a ton of time in the water, they can’t actually swim or float? They propel themselves quickly by holding their breath and pushing off of the ground or items in the water. Hippos also use the buoyancy increasing properties of water to relieve the massive pressure on their joints on land. Here is a wild mother Hippo grooming her calf. 


GVZoo’s Hippotamus Hazina was brought to GVZoo as a baby in 2004, and was cast in a Telus Christmas Commercial. Unfortunately, she was also the reason the Zoo was charged with cruelty in 2006. Forced to endure 19 months in an enclosure that amounted to an inadequately sized pool inside of a shed, the cruelty charges were stayed after the zoo responded to pressure to make a proper enclosure. The zoo had been stripped of their accreditation 6 months previous to acquiring her, and had no completed enclosure in place. Here she is pictured in a concrete floored enclosure. The zoo reluctantly added rubber flooring at the SPCA’s urging as they rushed her final enclosure. 


Unfortunately, Hippos at Vancouver Zoo haven’t fared well. Their two previous hippos died about halfway through their regular lifespan.

GVZoo was also the site of a tragic accident involving hippos in 1983, where two hippos were given access to a frozen pond fell through thin ice and drowned.

The Rothschild Giraffe/GVZoo’s Giraffe problem.

The Rothschild Giraffe is one of the most endangered and largest Giraffes in the world. Some are as tall as 20 feet and can weigh up to 2500 pounds. Rothschild Giraffes are most recognized for their distinct pattern that differs from other species. In the wild, they live up to 30 years old.  Look at this beautiful group of Rothschild Giraffes in the wild. 


In 2006, GVZoo had a baby Giraffe die at just over a week old. Some speculated that the lack of a feeding paddock for what was a senior mother (23 years old) to nurse a baby at should have been installed to prevent this death.  At GVZoo in 2011, Eleah and Amryn, a mother/daughter duo of Giraffes died within a week  of each other. Another giraffe named Jafari died at the age of 12 from a degenerative brain disease in 2011. Giraffe have noted challenges with captivity in general including mortality due to cold stress, and a host of maladies associated with improper diets in captive care, including neurological damage. For an overview that includes links to more REAL Giraffe facts, check out this great link. 

Giraffe in enclosure, GVZoo. Plywood and brick.