Whither Zoos?

As Toronto's Mayor seeks to slash spending, a Spanish amusement park company, the worlds' third largest is showing great interest in the Toronto Zoo. Which raises the question .. What are zoos for? And does it matter who runs them?

Part Two of The Current

Whither Zoos - Panel

If more people got excited about a trip to see the animals at the zoo, perhaps fewer Canadian zoos would have such problems. Toronto's zoo is constantly on the endangered list despite fundraising efforts and government subsidies. Last month, Toronto city council put out a call for bidders interested in buying, leasing or operating the zoo.

Parques Reunidos, a Spanish company that is the world's third largest operator of leisure attractions, answered the call. It runs amusement and water parks in many countries along with some 13 zoos and aquariums in Europe, Argentina, Florida and Hawaii. It is now considering adding Toronto to its attractions.

To talk about what this latest move could mean for zoos in Canada, we were joined by three people. Michael Hackenberger is the owner of the Bowmanville Zoo - the oldest private zoo in North America. He was in Bowmanville, Ontario just East of Toronto. David Hancock is a wildlife biologist. He was in Surrey, B.C. and Robert Laidlaw is the head of Zoocheck Canada which is a national animal protection charity and he was in our studio in Toronto.

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