Cruel euthanization of endangered species alleged
The B.C. SPCA has launched an investigation into allegations that animals at an endangered-species breeding facility were inhumanely euthanized by having their throats slit, being hammered to death, or by being shot with multiple rounds from small-calibre rifles.
But the owner of the Mountain View Conservation and Breeding Centre in Fort Langley, east of Vancouver, calls the claims groundless allegations by disgruntled former employees and says he has welcomed SPCA investigators to the site.
The SPCA began the investigation over the weekend after former staffers said cost cutting at the facility led to animals being abused, neglected and dying horrible deaths.
Todd Streu, the spokesman for the former employees, said they have pictures to back up their claims of improper housing, unsafe working procedures and improper euthanasia techniques.
In one case a rhinoceros, Ivan, broke his horn, but no veterinarian was ever called to treat him, said Streu. Two giraffes also recently died at the facility, the SPCA has confirmed.
The general manager of cruelty investigations with the B.C. SPCA, Marcie Moriarty, said the allegations are surprising, because Mountain View has had a world-class reputation for more than 20 years.
"We weren't aware of any complaints, nothing had been brought to our attention, so this did come as quite a surprise to us, these allegations," said Moriarty.
Owner denies allegations
Mountain View owner and operator Gordon Blankstein said he is upset and angry at what he calls a smear campaign by a group of disgruntled former employees.
"I think it is very, very unfair. You can make things look anyway you want them to look, and unfortunately I think that's what's happening, said Blankstein, who has a reputation as a multimillionaire philanthropist.
"The facility is under care of a number of vets and the animals are in good shape. You know, my family has put millions and millions of dollars into this place, and we put our love and our care, so to be challenged the way we are, it's very, very frustrating," he said.
"The animals look extremely healthy. They're in very large enclosures. They live as natural as possible to what it would be like in the wild," he said.
"We have international researchers at our place. We had them there in July and August and September. We had documentary crews in for two weeks filming a documentary on the place. I mean, if things were going on that weren't proper, these people would all see it," he said.
The Mountain View website says the non-profit facility breeds more than 50 endangered species in family groups for reintroduction back into their natural habitat in Canada and around the world.