Protesters target Ottawa zoo where wandering lion shot dead

Dozens of people attended an anti-zoo protest near Ottawa on Sunday, one week after a lion was fatally shot after wandering out of its enclosure at an area zoo.

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For about an hour, the protesters lined a county road near the Papanack Park Zoo, holding signs calling for the closure of all zoos. The protest came a week after a lion was fatally shot at the Papanack Zoo, located about 50 kilometres east of Ottawa.

Protesters said the incident shows that animals should not be held in captivity.

"It's time that we wake up and see what's happening for real," one protester told CTV Ottawa. "They belong in the wild, not in a prison."

The group said they hope to shine a spotlight on what they call weak regulations governing Ontario's more than 60 zoos.

"The fact that right at the moment, the only animals that are banned across Ontario are orcas and pit bulls is ridiculous," another protester said.

Organizer Michelle Thorn said that many at the protest are against the captivity of all animals.

"The main goal is education," Thorn said. "Our main message is that we do not believe that animals belong in zoos at all, especially wild animals, but even domestic animals."

The owners of the Papanack Zoo said they had no choice but to shoot and kill the lion, because it posed a public safety risk.

The zoo did not respond to a request for comment, but posted a statement on Facebook that included the following explanation:

"The risk to the public of trying to sedate the lion was simply too high as the sedatives take too long to kick in, and this would have put everyone at risk," the statement said.

The Papanack Zoo is currently closed for the season, so no members of the public were on the grounds when the lion escaped. The zoo also said it has undertaken a review of its large animal exhibits since the shooting took place, and will consult with experts to ensure that a similar incident does not happen again.

The zoo also said that the incident was likely due to a case of "human error."

A small counter-protest sprung up on Sunday, made up of a small group of zoo supporters.

"Since the new owner has purchased this (zoo), I notice that the animals have been well taken care of," one supporter said.

With a report from CTV Ottawa's Annie Bergeron-Oliver



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