British Columbia

Greater Vancouver Zoo quarantines rabbits, fearing deadly virus

A popular Metro Vancouver zoo is taking steps to protect its rabbits from a deadly virus that was first detected on Vancouver Island but has now spread to the Lower Mainland.

Virus has killed hundreds of rabbits on Vancouver Island and in Delta

B.C.'s chief veterinary officer says vaccines will be imported from France to curb an ongoing disease killing rabbits in the province. (Nigel Dowsett/Shutterstock)

A popular Metro Vancouver zoo is taking steps to protect its rabbits from a deadly virus that was first detected on Vancouver Island but has now spread to the Lower Mainland.

The Greater Vancouver Zoo says its rabbits have been removed from the petting area because of concerns about rabbit hemorrhagic disease — an illness that kills rabbits, although it is not transmitted to humans or other farm animals.

The zoo says its rabbits are healthy and remain on display, but it cancelled plans for bunny petting and a bunny care workshop over Easter, and says the rabbits will remain in prolonged quarantine, as a safety measure.

The virus that begins with fever and convulsions, kills rabbits within 36 hours and has already caused the deaths of hundreds of feral rabbits on Vancouver Island and in Delta.

B.C.'s chief veterinary officer says vaccines will be imported from France to curb an ongoing disease killing rabbits in the province.

There are restrictions on importing the vaccine into Canada, she said, but those have been lifted due to this outbreak, only the third one to happen in this country in the last 10 years.