Though it can be tempting to take photos with wild animals, new research by global charity World Animal Protection (WPA) reminds zoo-goers that this practice is cruel.
Yet, many Canadian zoos allow visitors to take photos with animals. Many zoos also force animals to perform in circus-like shows, to paint with their trunks and or even to give rides to visitors.
World Animal Protection has released a report that shows that "wild animals are abused and forced to do unnatural activities at what are supposed to be some of the world's 'top' zoos, including in Canada."
Their report surveyed zoos and aquariums associated with the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA). World Animal Protection concluded that WAZA is not enforcing the rules that it itself has put in place.
Notably, WAZA vows that zoos affiliated with them "should not involve animals in shows, displays or interactive experiences where animals perform demeaning and unnatural behaviours."
World Animal Protection states that "tourists visiting a WAZA-linked venue should be able to trust they are not inadvertently supporting cruel animal attractions."
Out of the 12 WAZA members highlighted in the report are two Canadian zoos: the African Lion Safari (ALS) and Jungle Cat World in Ontario. According to the report, lions at ALS are forced to bow, paint and lift up trainers.
At Jungle Cat World, visitors can get up close and personal with a number of animals, so that they can take selfies with the animals.
World Animal Protection condemns these practices, calling them "outdated and dangerous." A trainer at ALS was recently attacked by one of the wild cats.
Melissa Matlow, Campaign Director at World Animal Protection says, "If you can see animals involved in activities they wouldn't normally do in the wild, then it shouldn't be shown in a zoo. It's not natural, it's not educational, it's cruel."
You can read the full report here.