Some former employees of Papanack Park Zoo near Wendover, Ont., want it shut down over their concerns about the treatment of animals.

The former workers have created a Facebook page called Close Papanack Zoo, featuring photos they took while they worked there.


Katie Hierlihy, a former zookeeper at Papanack Park Zoo near Wendover, Ont., says she and another former employee want the zoo shut down. (CBC)

Katie Hierlihy left her job as a zookeeper last year. She had worked there for a year and a half.

"When I first started I thought it was nice.… I got to do a lot of really cool stuff like pet tigers and hand-feed lions, and be around really cool exotic animals," Hierlihy said.

"Then as I spent more time there and I saw more of the behind-the-scenes activity that happens, I sort of lost that idea that the business was a great place to work."

Hierlihy claims zoo maintenance was poor, and that some enclosures were not cleaned often enough.

She said a low point came when Wilbur, an asiatic water buffalo, died one December.

"We don't know 100 per cent what killed him, but we did come in one day — it was the middle of December — he was still outside and he had passed away," she said, adding that Wilbur wasn't very old.

Hierlihy said Wilbur should not have been left outside.

Hierlihy admits she never brought her concerns to the owner of the zoo, Keith Forgie, while she worked there, and she didn't indicate why she left in her resignation letter.

The former employees say their goal goes beyond shutting down the Papanack Zoo. They say the zoo is just one example of a larger problem in Ontario: lax rules surrounding the ownership of exotic animals.

Forgie refused to comment.