'I thought the thing was dying,' visitor says of prone kangaroo at petting zoo
Aurora Chamber of Commerce bans Tiger Paw Exotics petting zoo from future events
An exotic petting zoo has been cut from Aurora's Chamber of Commerce events after visitors to a local street fair called the Ontario SPCA amid concerns about a kangaroo in care of Tiger Paw Exotics.
The couple who made the call on Sunday allege the animal's cage had no shade and there appeared to be no water for the marsupial, who lay prone on the ground and seemed unresponsive.
"It was foaming at the mouth, it was drooling, its eyes were closed," Jonathan Cole said Monday. "It obviously seemed to be in distress. There was no shade for it whatsoever, there was very minimal bedding in the cage [so] it was laying on the hot concrete and it wasn't moving."
Cole and his girlfriend Stephanie Nikolich approached the zoo's owner with their concerns, which, they say, were rebuffed.
The owner agreed that all the animals should have been in the shade, but said that he hadn't erected all the tents because rain was in the forecast, Cole alleges. Another set of cages were partly shaded by a tent.
"I was absolutely horrified, it was disgusting," he said. "I thought the thing was dying, too. I was very concerned about it."
So they decided to contact the Ontario SPCA.
An investigator arrived within an hour and a half of the complaint. After a discussion, the zoo's owner put up more tents and gave all the animals more water, Nikolich said.
The company that hired the petting zoo — which was not part of the official chamber of commerce event — said that although Law Insurers Brokers Ltd. has hired Tiger Paw Exotics for many years, they don't plan to do so again.
"We thank those individuals that have brought their concerns to our attention and we will be taking them seriously," Brian McCartney, the firm's president said in a letter. "We plan to review the complaints with the owner of Tiger Paw Exotics and will take what actions are required."
McCartney said that all of the animals at the petting zoo appeared to have food and water and seemed alert enough to interact with visitors.
The chamber commerce, however, seconded McCartney's comments, saying that they asked the firm not to employ a petting zoo next year — and have followed up with the Ontario SPCA.
Although CBC Toronto made several attempts to contact someone at Tiger Paw, no one returned calls.
With files from Kiran Dhillon