February 20, 2015

Drumheller reptiles get new owners

Fred the alligator has left Drumheller, Alberta, for a temporary home in Ontario. In time, all the alligators, crocodiles and caimans from the Drumheller zoo at the centre of an Alberta SPCA investigation will go to an outdoor facility in South Carolina.

Those crocodilians were among approximately 55 reptiles that the Drumheller zoo owner voluntarily surrendered on February 12, 2015, for transport to two facilities in Ontario. The Alberta and Canadian governments paid for the transfer of those animals.

An additional 138 of the Drumheller zoo’s reptiles and amphibians were in protective custody with the Alberta SPCA until February 17, 2015, when the 10-day hold period set out in the Animal Protection Act expired. The zoo owner did not attempt to reclaim any of the animals.

The majority of the animals went to facilities that follow the standards of the Canadian Association of Zoos and Aquariums (CAZA). The Ontario SPCA and the British Columbia SPCA assisted with the selection of facilities in those provinces. To date, all of the transported animals have arrived safely at their destinations. A small number of common reptiles that don’t require permits for ownership in Alberta will be rehomed through local humane societies.

Many of the animals seized from the zoo by the Alberta SPCA were controlled species. To facilitate the Alberta SPCA’s actions, Alberta Environment and Sustainable Resource Development gave the Alberta SPCA temporary permission to have possession of the controlled species. The Alberta SPCA is responsible for the costs associated with housing, caring for and treating the animals while it had them in its custody.

The Alberta SPCA did not remove all the animals from the Drumheller zoo. Alberta SPCA peace officers left animals on site either because they were in better condition than the other animals or because they were too dangerous for the officers to move safely. For example, for many of the venomous snakes, the only available antivenin in Canada was located at the Ontario zoo that ultimately took those animals.

An Alberta SPCA peace officer first attended the zoo in late December 2014 after receiving a report about concerns for the welfare of the animals. The Alberta SPCA removed animals from the zoo on January 24 and on February 4 to 6, 2015. In addition to the live animals they removed, peace officers also found 75 dead reptiles and amphibians stored in freezers on the property.

The Alberta SPCA’s investigation into the situation is ongoing. No charges have been laid at this time.

The Alberta SPCA is a registered charity dedicated to the welfare of animals. Alberta SPCA peace officers have the authority to enforce Alberta’s Animal Protection Act. Call 1-800-455-9003 to report suspected animal neglect or abuse outside Edmonton and Calgary.

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For further information, please contact

Roland Lines
Communications Manager
Alberta Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals
10806 – 124 Street NW
Edmonton, AB  T5M 0H3
Tel: 780-447-3600 ext. 3742