Tuesday, May 15, 2007
Japanese Snow Monkey Escapes From Ontario Wildlife Sanctuary
The escape of Julian the Japanese snow monkey from a wildlife sanctuary just outside Picton has renewed calls for tougher regulations on the operation of private zoos in Ontario.
Ontario Provincial Police issued an alert yesterday for the three-year-old monkey, which is described as weighing 10 kilograms and has long, brown hair and a distinct red face.
Julian, who is also known as a Japanese macaque, went missing from the Bergeron's Exotic Animal Sanctuary on Sunday. Although he was seen a few times later that day, there have been no sightings since.
Police say the owners, Pat and Joe Bergeron, have assured them the animal poses no threat to the public. But officials have warned people to keep away from the escaper because the breed can carry the herpes B virus.
The OPP yesterday were patrolling for Julian as well as visiting people living near the sanctuary, letting them know he was on the lam, Const. Kim Guthrie said in an interview.
The sanctuary is the source of much controversy. Tourism and business groups have held fundraisers in support of the facility, which takes in disabled and unwanted animals, many of them destined to be euthanized.
But the World Society for the Protection of Animals issued a scathing report in 2005 that concluded the Bergeron sanctuary failed to provide proper care for many of the 150 exotic animals on site. Audits of five animal exhibits generated concerns about dirty pens, isolated and stressed animals, inadequate space and inadequate fencing and locks.
Julian's escape "is proof that Ontario's lax zoo regulations are not working," the society said yesterday in a letter to all members of the Legislature.