VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — Animal rights advocates took part in a march outside the Greater Vancouver Zoo Sunday to call for an to end to what they consider cruel practices and negligence.
Activists gathered at the zoo in response to the decision to euthanize a moose, named Oakleaf, a day after pictures of her thin, bony body were shared on Facebook by a concerned visitor.
David Isbister, with No More Dead Captives, believes Oakleaf was put down due to extreme negligence on the part of the zoo, and says he wants justice now.
Isbister says while the initial reason to protest was Oakleaf’s treatment, the focus shifted when the group looked further into conditions.
“Having spoken to former workers there and other observers, we’ve noticed that Gesture, their adult male moose, has died without announcement. Looks like a mountain goat named Karen and up to 15 more animals have passed away,” Isbister claims.
The group is calling on the zoo to announce all deaths that have occurred to improve transparency. It also wants a halt on bringing in animals not suited to the climate and a phase-out of animals in captivity altogether.
Earlier this week, veterinarian Dr. Bruce Burton told NEWS 1130 he made the call to euthanize the senior moose on Wednesday after months of declining health and was unaware of the social media posts when he made the decision.
“We thought she was improving, and then when we examined her more closely we found that she just wasn’t improving enough to justify keeping trying to treat her,” he explained. “Unfortunately, we had to make that decision but I think we knew that was coming.”
Burton says Oakleaf was put under anesthetic in February so vets could check her teeth. They found them to be in poor condition, so much so that they impacted her ability to chew, hold food in her mouth, and eat.
This isn’t the first time the facility has been criticized. Last year, the Vancouver Humane Society called on the Greater Vancouver Zoo to improve conditions for the animals it houses after a report found the animals were bored and frustrated.
– With files from Amanda Wawryw, Hana Mae Nassar and Lasia Kretzel