Ban on zoos in Sault Ste. Marie won't affect existing operation

The only zoo in Sault Ste. Marie will stay open, despite a ban on zoos passed by city council last year.
Spruce Haven Nature Park, a zoo in Sault Ste. Marie, will stay open despite a ban on zoos in the city. (Supplied/Google Streetview)

The only zoo in Sault Ste. Marie will stay open, despite a ban on zoos passed by city council last year.

At Tuesday's meeting, council voted 6-4 to allow the Spruce Haven Nature Park to stay open. It will be allowed to keep operating until its aging stock of animals, including a lion, a llama and a cougar, pass on.

The idea was put forward by councillor Susan Myers.

"Never has any visitor to our community or a local constituent contacted me to register a complaint about Spruce Haven Nature Park," she said.

"Spruce Haven Nature Park is not the Toronto Zoo. They do not pay countries such as China to import pandas for the purposes of economic tourism gain."

Myers describes Spruce Haven as an animal hospice instead of a zoo.

"The current Spruce Haven Nature Park may continue after the four legged aging residents are long gone, but it will not be with the intention of operating as the zoo it never was," she said.

However, city councillor Judy Hupponen, who pushed for the ban on zoos, voted against the motion.

Sault Ste. Marie city councillor Judy Hupponen. (City of Sault Ste. Marie )

She recalled a visit to Spruce Have this past summer.

"It was the most depressing day of my life," she said.

"I have to say I've visited many zoos and this was by the far the worse, from any third world country zoo I've seen."

Hupponen says she is particularly concerned that Spruce Haven is now exempt from the zoo bylaw, including the humane society's ability to investigate complaints.

With files from Erik White

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