The keeping of wild and exotic animals in captivity, both on land and in marine enclosures, is a contentious issue among the public and the scientific community. Evidence is growing to demonstrate that the complex physical and emotional needs for many wild and exotic animals cannot be met in captive environments. The BC SPCA has had long-standing positions on the permanent captivity of wild and exotic animals - just because we can keep them in captivity, doesn't mean we should.
The BC SPCA continues to support the temporary captivity of animals in professional rescue and rehabilitation programs, and sanctuaries accredited by the Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries. Beyond this program, there is no 3rd party or independent auditing of sanctuary or zoo facilities. Anyone can collect and display wild animals if local bylaws do not restrict this activity, and the species are not prohibited for display by provincial regulations.
Be especially aware of facilities that allow for interactions between people and wild animals - although this may seem like a great way to show your interest for wildlife, the animals do not enjoy the experience as you may believe. Even when captive bred, wild animals retain their natural instincts and specialized needs; the requirements for nutrition, health, play, socialization, enrichment and other factors that determine their good welfare, are rarely met in captivity.
The BC SPCA is opposed to the permanent confinement of wild and exotic animals unless it can be demonstrated that the Five Freedoms can be met in the captive environment.
While individuals and organizations should ultimately phase out collections of these animals, in the interim, they must strive to meet the Five Freedoms at all life stages, both on and off exhibit, by employing management practices and species-specific enclosures that meet the physiological, emotional and behavioural needs of the animals.
Read our full zoo position statement (PDF).
The BC SPCA is opposed to the capture, confinement and breeding of marine mammals for entertainment or educational display.
Institutions, facilities and businesses that currently house marine mammals must aim to provide the animals with the Five Freedoms and meet the highest professional accreditation standards. The BC SPCA supports the phasing out of such programs as the full provision of the Five Freedoms is not possible for wild animals who require large and diverse aquatic habitats to live.
Read our full marine mammal position statement (PDF).
To address the growing concerns being raised by members of the public and the scientific community against the keeping of captive cetaceans, in April 2014, the BC SPCA made by-law recommendations to the Vancouver Park Board in order to take steps towards the phasing out of cetacean programs at the Vancouver Aquarium. See our full letter to the Vancouver Park Board (PDF).