Large Seizure of Animals at St-Édouard Zoo in Progress Following Filing of Animal Cruelty Charges

Saint-Édouard-de-Maskinongé, May 21, 2019 – Following a criminal investigation led by the Montreal SPCA at the St-Édouard Zoo in Mauricie, its owner, Normand Trahan, is facing two counts of animal cruelty and neglect covering over 100 animals kept on the premises, including lions, tigers, zebras, bears, wolves, kangaroos, and primates. The accused, who was placed under arrest this morning, faces a 5-year prison term and a lifetime ban on having custody or control of an animal. As for the animals at the zoo, they are currently being seized by the SPCA as part of an operation that began this morning.

Given the magnitude and the complexity of the endeavour, the operation will take place over a number of weeks and will be conducted in partnership with Humane Society International (HSI), an organization specialized in mass animal rescue operations, with the generous support of the Eric S. Margolis Family Foundation. HSI will assume all on site care of the animals, and will transport and place all seized wild and exotic animals in partner sanctuaries and specialized care facilities throughout North America over the coming weeks.

As of 7am this morning, SPCA animal protection officers, accompanied by a veterinarian and specialized staff from HSI, began taking charge of the animals at the zoo. “We have begun inspecting the facilities with our veterinarian in order to assess the animals’ health, determine which individuals require urgent care and document their living conditions,” explains Sophie Gaillard, lawyer and Director of Animal Advocacy in charge of the operation. “We will then begin transporting the seized animals to new housing facilities, where they will receive all the specialized care they require. Given the number of animals involved and the species we are dealing with, this is an extremely complex operation which could last several weeks.”

A seizure of this magnitude requires an on-site operating base capable of functioning 24 hours a day/ 7 days a week, the mobilization of a large part of the SPCA’s Investigations Division team, the expertise of veterinarians and specialized collaborators, as well as coordination with a network of shelters and sanctuaries to ensure optimal living conditions adapted to the needs of all the animals removed from the premises. “An operation like this is would not be possible without the dedication and hard work of our animal protection officers,” highlights Élise Desaulniers, Executive Director of the Montreal SPCA.

In response to a report of mistreatment made by visitors to the facility, the Montreal SPCA first visited the St-Édouard Zoo in August 2018. Its animal protection officers subsequently obtained a search warrant allowing them to enter the premises accompanied by a veterinarian. In addition to noting several significant problems regarding the physical state of the animals and their living conditions, SPCA officers seized two alpacas in particularly poor condition as well as the bodies of four animals found deceased on site, including two tigers. This intervention, combined with additional investigation findings, led to the criminal charges announced today. To the SPCA’s knowledge, this is the first time a zoo owner has ever been charged with criminal animal cruelty in Canada.

“In addition to being a first in Canada in terms of the type of institution concerned, this is also the first time in Quebec history that animal cruelty charges are laid by way of indictment, a type of prosecution reserved for the most serious offenses and which opens the door to much harsher penalties,” notes Sophie Gaillard, lawyer and Director of Animal Advocacy at the Montreal SPCA.

Anyone with additional information regarding the treatment of animals at the St-Édouard Zoo is invited to contact the Montreal SPCA’s Investigations Division by email at enquetes@spca.com or by phone at 514-735-2711, extension 2230.

About the Montreal SPCA’s Investigations Division

Every year, the Montreal SPCA’s Investigations Division receives thousands of complaints and reports. In 2018, over 8,500 animals of a range of species received a visit from our staff and 1,500 new investigations were opened. In total, 449 animals were removed from their premises, and over forty convictions were obtained.

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Links:photos available – credit: Humane Society International

Media contact: Anita Kapuscinska, Communications Director, Montreal SPCA, 514-359-5198, or anitak@spca.com.

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