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CHIPPEWA PARK WILDLIFE EXHIBIT CAN’T CLOSE

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Chippewa Park Wildlife Exhibit
#LSN_Outdoors  Chippewa Wildlife can not be relocated


THUNDER BAY, ONTARIO  --- March 18, 2017 (LSN)  In an open letter to City Manager Norm Gale, The Friends of Chippewa Park are expressing their concern that over one third of the animals at the Wildlife Exhibit cannot be relocated to other facilities across the country and will require the continuation of the high level of care that these animals require.

Friends President Lorraine Lortie-Krawczuk noted recent media reports that point out an inspection by the Canada Food Inspection Agency veterinarian indicated that the hooved animals could not safely be tranquilized for a series of TB tests, let alone transportation and must stay in the park.  She went on to remind Gale that Fluffy the Bear was also identified as being at risk and must stay but then reported that the aged wolf is also in the same category.

“With over one third of the animals having to stay at the Wildlife Exhibit, and that these animals require nearly 50% of the animal keepers time each day, it does not make any sense whatsoever to close the Wildlife Exhibit” said Lortie-Krawczuk. “These 8 animals require significant care in order to remain healthy and it is not in the best interest of the City, the animals nor the community to remove the trained animal keeper or close the doors of this very popular facility.”

The Friends of Chippewa Park also point out in their letter that no formal arrangements have in fact been made with the animal transporter for the remainder of the animals, a process that will take at least one month to finalize, and that the May 1 date will not be met.

In their letter to the City Manager The Friends of Chippewa Park included the following:

“The Friends of Chippewa Park continue to be committed to work with the City to identify a long term solution that will enable the Wildlife Exhibit to continue, including the development of a non-profit, publicly and privately funded Wildlife Rescue and Conservation Centre consistent with many such facilities around the continent.

We are writing to you to ask that you find the appropriate way to keep the Wildlife Exhibit operational for the foreseeable future. Not only will that deal with the current challenges facing the City but provide The Friends of Chippewa Park the time to put together a formal business plan and to seek external funding for both operational and capital requirements.”

-30-


Norm Gale                                                                                                      March 18, 2017
City Manager
500 Donald Street, East
Thunder Bay, ON
P7C 5K4

By Email: ngale@thunderbay.ca

OPEN LETTER
Dear Mr. Gale

Recent news reports along with additional information we have obtained leads us to ask that you find a way to reverse the Council decision to close the Chippewa Park Wildlife Exhibit on May 1 of this year.

It is clear to us that over one third of the animals will not be able to be relocated and must be cared for at the Wildlife Exhibit until their natural death.  It is not realistic to expect this to occur anytime soon.

We know now that as a result of the inspection by the veterinarian who deals with wild animals in captivity from the Canada Food Inspection Agency that all the hooved animals are regulated and therefore must undergo TB testing prior to be transferred. The testing must be done under strictly controlled circumstances and due to the advanced age of all the animals, we have been advised that it cannot be done safely.

As a result, the following hooved animals will remain at the Wildlife Exhibit and cared for:

Elk                   3
Deer                1
Caribou           1
Sheep              1

These 6 animals require approximately 40% of the attention of the Animal Keeper due to the complex requirements of their care. The time allocated is increased if they get sick, and they are sick most often of all the animals. Last summer the caribou had an illness that caused diarrhea and some weight loss. He has recovered fully, but ever since then the Animal Keeper is required to perform a visual inspection of all hooved animal stool daily. This daily inspection is augmented when the vet comes on a regular basis. These hooved animals also require the biggest variety of food, which the existing Animal Keeper has been trained in to ensure the contents are proportioned properly. They also tend to drink a lot of water, with their water source checked at least twice a day. Worms are a common problem among the hooved animals and every few months the Animal Keeper is required to portion out special medicated pellets to deworm them. Also in the warm weather the hooved animal ‘houses’ must be cleaned out more frequently in order to prevent the hay beds from rotting.

In addition, as you are aware, the 20 year old Fluffy the Bear will also be remaining at the Exhibit and also must be cared for. The bear also requires additional care that results in an additional two to three hours of labour every few days to drain and fill the pool in order to keep it algae free and safe for the bear.

We have just learned that the remaining wolf is also at risk of harm if any attempt is made to capture and transport him. Although he is quite elderly, he remains overly aggressive and any attempt to capture him will put staff at risk. The Vet that provides services to the park has apparently warned more than once that any attempt to sedate the wolf will kill him.

Overall, that means that 8 of the 23 animals and birds will remain at the Wildlife Exhibit for the foreseeable future and that they will likely require approximately half of a full-time person to properly and safely care for them.  And the care should not be provided as an ‘add-on’ by the remaining park staff, who neither have the requisite training and experience nor the time to dedicate themselves to the care of these vulnerable animals.

It is also important for you to understand that in spite of repeated assurances by Administration it is not realistic to expect that the remainder of the residents of the Wildlife Exhibit will be relocated by May 1.  It is our understanding that the animal transporter utilized by the City requires at least one month lead time to make the appropriate arrangements to place the animals and birds, travel to Thunder Bay and secure the animals and birds for transport.  It is our further understanding that as of this past week no firm arrangements have been made with the transporter.

With more than a third of the animals remaining in place and requiring a continuation of the high level of care they have been receiving, and the challenge in meeting the May 1 deadline (and therefor the cost savings promised to Council) we believe the solution is to suspend the closure and retain the current Animal Keeper in that position until the 8 animals identified above have passed.  

This means also keeping the Wildlife Exhibit open to the public through this summer season. It would be an inappropriate use of tax payer’s funds to care for these animals without allowing the public to continue to view them in their natural environment.

The Friends of Chippewa Park continue to be committed to work with the City to identify a long term solution that will enable the Wildlife Exhibit to continue, including the development of a non-profit, publicly and privately funded Wildlife Rescue and Conservation Centre consistent with many such facilities around the continent.

We are writing to you to ask that you find the appropriate way to keep the Wildlife Exhibit operational for the foreseeable future. Not only will that deal with the current challenges facing the City but provide The Friends of Chippewa Park the time to put together a formal business plan and to seek external funding for both operational and capital requirements.

We look forward to your response.


Yours truly




Lorraine Lortie-Krawczuk
President

Copy to:

Kerri Marshall, General Manager, Infrastructure & Operations kmarshall@thunderbay.ca
Kayla Dixon, Director of Engineering and Operations kdixon@thunderbay.ca
Gordon John, Manager of Parks and Open Spaces (Acting) gjohn@thunderbay.ca
Karen Martin, President, CUPE Local 87 cupe87@tbaytel.net




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