What we propose, and How GVZoo responded.

Here is our original open letter, posted and sent around June 2015: 

 

Dear Ms. Henderson:
This is David from LiberateGVZoo animals, on behalf of all of the organizers.

We would welcome a chance to have a discussion in person with you. We are committed to voicing our continued opposition to the legacy and many current practices at the zoo, however, we see an opportunity to try and communicate an alternate vision for the property that would beneficial for animal and local conservation in a way that could bring more consensus from all sides.

We’d like to discuss the expectations we would have for the zoo moving forward.

  1. Full transparency and accountability: it would be a positive action if you published a full inventory of animals at your facility, as well as the announcement of ALL births, deaths, and acquisitions. This would include all animals of all species you hold.
  2. Importing and Breeding: Immediately pledge to end importing and breeding of all non-local species with the intention to transition to a Rehab Centre. In this case, this would be defined as a facility with the intention to rehabilitate and release animals to their own habitats after recovery wherever possible, without the purported necessity of African and other megafauna enabling it. We have contacts throughout wildlife rescue that would be able to provide knowledge and expertise and we would be able to provide assistance and facilitate a dialogue.
  3. Phaseout of existing exotic (non-local) captive species: If lone individuals of a social species remain, it would be the expectation that they would be moved to a non-profit sanctuary/rescue facility. This allows you time to plan your new direction and give more resources and care to animals that remain.

We believe that this is feasible and would build upon what other Zoos have already begun with more minimal actions. GVZOO could be a precedent setting, industry leader. This would drastically improve public opinion and support. We would support these changes by redirecting our protest energy into making this transition a success.

We look forward to your response, and thank you in advance for your time in considering our position.

LiberateGVZOO Organizing Team
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Here is Jody Henderson’s response:

Hello David and group,

The Greater Vancouver Zoo has been around since 1970 and we are all very proud of the wonderful work we do for the animals that we care for and the numerous enhancements we have made over the years.

Further to your email list of goals and demands we would like to respond with the following statement:
1. Full transparency and accountability: it would be a positive action if you published a full inventory of animals at your facility, as well as the announcement of ALL births, deaths, and acquisitions. This would include all animals of all species you hold.
We report everything to CAZA (Canada’s Accredited Zoo’s and Aquarium’s) and as well as the provincial and federal government.  We have a good working relationship with the SPCA regarding the health and welfare of our animals, in relation to animal information and operations.  We realize that many people care about the animals that reside at the zoo and we keep the public up to date on the animals through press releases and announcements. When an animal is born a thorough medical analysis takes place, although sometimes we might wait a few days or weeks after an animal’s birth before releasing the news, as to not overwhelm a new born and its mother.  In the event of an animal’s death we always share a press release along with necropsy results. With any incidents that may have occurred, we always have them addressed publically as well.

2. Importing and Breeding: Immediately pledge to end importing and breeding of all non-local species with the intention to transition to a Rehab Centre. In this case, this would be defined as a facility with the intention to rehabilitate and release animals to their own habitats after recovery wherever possible, without the purported necessity of African and other megafauna enabling it. We have contacts throughout wildlife rescue that would be able to provide knowledge and expertise and we would be able to provide assistance and facilitate a dialogue.
The Greater Vancouver Zoo participates in several Species Survival Plan (SSP) programs.  The SSP program was developed by AZA (Association for Zoo’s and Aquariums) as a tool to help ensure the long term survival of species that are being threatened or endangered in the wild.  SSP programs help maintain healthy and genetically diverse animal populations within captive populations.  Through population management and conservation efforts such as public education, research, reintroduction and field conservation programs we can assure a sustainable future for animals that are currently being threatened in the wild. Here at The Greater Vancouver Zoo we have a very strict breeding policy which is the reason we have very few newborns each year if any.  Habitat loss continues and populations of wild specimen decrease, while having a small population in captivity can help prevent total extinction of critically endangered species.

3. Phaseout of existing exotic (non-local) captive species: If lone individuals of a social species remain, it would be the expectation that they would be moved to a non-profit sanctuary/rescue facility. This allows you time to plan your new direction and give more resources and care to animals that remain.
Our main purpose is educating the next generation on the importance of preservation, conservation and how they can save species in the wild.   We have considered changing our name to The Greater Vancouver Zoo Sanctuary, although as we are a privately run facility relying solely on admission rates to operate, a name change is a large expense better spent on animal care and housing as this is our number one focus. Most of our animals are rescues or former pets, injured, non-releasable, or born in captivity at a zoo. We strongly advise against owning exotic pets but until people are no longer able to own exotic pets worldwide, there will always be homes needed for such animals with only so many places able to take them in.  We see ourselves as a sanctuary with the difference being we are regulated by CAZA, the government and SPCA.  Moving an animal especially seniors from where they have lived their whole life or majority of their life can add unnecessary stress to the animal, which can result in health problems and possibly death.

The Greater Vancouver Zoo is currently involved with many conservation projects both locally and globally.  Since late 2011 we have raised over $90,000.00 USD towards conservation projects in the wild, along with our local Western Painted Turtle and Oregon Spotted Frog program where they are bred on premises and released back into the wild.

We understand and appreciate you have a right to protest and although I think we can all say that we have a different view of our purpose and of animals in a captive environment, we respect your opinion and appreciate your love of animals.
The good work that we are doing both locally and worldwide for the education and conservation of the animal world will continue through many people that support us, and through our dedication and passion to help the species in the wild. Since 1970….dedicated to conservation, preservation & protection of endangered species! The Greater Vancouver Zoo is an accredited zoo within Canada’s Accredited Zoos and Aquariums (CAZA), which is a non-profit organization established to promote the welfare of animals and encourage the advancement of education, conservation and science.
If you do have any further questions and/or concerns, you may contact me directly via email atjhenderson@gvzoo.com and we would be happy to respond.

Sincerely,

Jody


Jody Henderson
General Manager
Greater Vancouver Zoo
5048 – 264th Street
Aldergrove, BC
Canada V4W 1N7

p: 604.856.6825 ext 27
f: 604.857.9008
e: jhenderson@gvzoo.com

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VISIT US AT WWW.GVZOO.COM

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