Monthly Archives: April 2011

For the Record

It has been said by a few people over the years, by animal activists and even wrangler’s that “Gary, is a business man and is only in the animal business for the money”. Well, that is so far from the truth, if that was the case after 23 years in business I still have little more money than I started with, I still live in my zoo, and am still driving old beater vehicles or donated ones. I still buy my clothes at value village with the exception of my Hat, and I still struggle to make ends meet.

If anyone wants to know where the money I do make goes they are more than welcome to go over the receipts from my spending and see that the money goes towards food and vitamins for the animals & upkeep of the facilities and paying what little staff I have. Then they may think differently. Over the past 23 years I’ve had a total of 2 weeks real vacation time, I guess I must really love animals & the work I do.

I hope when my book comes out this June things might improve for me financially, but knowing me any amount of money I do make, large or small, will still go to the animals and education.

To anyone out there who is thinking of getting into the animal business to get rich, you may want to reconsider.

Cold shoulders & Paperwork, my trip to Victoria

Prior to my visit to Victoria I was really uncertain what to expect but spent several days filling out all the required documents on each animal that was under the C.A.S act along with photos of each animal, habitats, doors & locks. To say the least the reception I received for my cooperation was very cold and discouraging and when I offered to sit with them to discuss how I may help to find some alternative solutions they said they did not have time to listen and good-bye.

I was also told by another government employee that the ban of all exotic animals (fish-birds-hamsters etc…) is looming in the future; however I have a really hard time believing that will ever pass.

As I have said before, I certainly believe in stricter regulations, but not when it comes to banning all exotic pets right across the board.

It was recently said by Peter Fricker of V.H.S that is not right that exotic animals should be kept in captivity as they are restrained from movement in cages & aquariums. This he was saying as his dog was puling like crazy on his leash to have his freedom. Believing that they are under stress living in captivity and should be put down, their stress is far less in captivity than in the wild & their life expectancy is far greater as they do not have to worry about predators.

I do agree they should be left in the wild if we leave any natural wild habitats for them to live in.  The animals we have here were rescued and possibly doomed under the hands of inexperienced people or worse, subjected to just plain cruelty. What kind of thinking is it to kill an animal that is in captivity by no choice of its own, I am pretty sure the animal would choose a life in captivity over death.

If activists want to make a difference then they should focus their work on saving their habitats, it would be much better to have animals flourishing in the wild than to have the last of their species in zoos.

I believe these animals that we have saved and introduced to countless children all over the lower mainland can make a difference to influence these kids to grow up to work in the field of animals as it did with me and If one kid out of my life’s work is to grows up to be responsible for saving an animal that is on the path to extinction than it was worth it.

I believe words, pictures, books & film do not have the same effect as the real thing. Look at pictures of the Rockies and tell me it is better than seeing them in real life. I don’t think so!

Bad Press and New Regulations Hurts Animals More than the Shelter

Donations to animal shelters are down, and many financially strapped pet owners are dropping their pets to shelters like Urban Safari that are already full. With negative media and false information being put out there Urban Safari Rescue Society has taken an unfair blow to its image and public confidence must be rebuilt. Although myself, my team of volunteers and staff understand that there should be regulations as to what people can keep in their homes as pets, the new Controlled Alien Species Act has created all to many problems for Urban Safari and Cinemazoo, most recently having to ship about many of our beloved animals out of the province or face having them euthanized. Government officials are coming down hard on Urban Safari and other similar animal rescues simply because the rules for keeping exotic pets have changed.

I cannot understand why the different divisions of this government can’t see the value of organizations such as Urban Safari. When I mentioned to the powers that be how important it is for children to have the up close experience of these animals that have been banned their comment was “they can always go to the zoo”. Well, considering the reports that nearly half of children in BC live below the poverty line, that wouldn’t be an option for them. What about the children in hospitals, and cancer centers or kids in institutions that need inspiration, and children with a variety of Mental and Physical Challenges? What a couple of officials said to me in regards to that was that “it wasn’t their problem”, that it was the problem of social services and other government bodies and that is what I like to call “passing the buck

Thank God the government didn’t rule when I was 8 and a man came into my classroom with an assortment of animals to educate us. That man changed my destiny. I became an animal lover and throughout my life it helped keep my nose clean all my money went to my interest in animals, not Drugs, Alcohol, cigarettes or any other bad habits.

The fact that these laws were passed for Public Safety, is a little hypocritical, certain breeds of Dogs have been known to maim and sometimes even kill people, yet these breeds and other breeds don’t get banned nor should they be. What about horses? More people die from horse related accidents or get seriously injured than any other domesticated animal in North America. However, they are big business for the government, so, is that what counts? Because I certainly don’t believe that it is public safety. Why isn’t it the case of no matter what animal you obtain or own, you are the sole responsible person that should receive punishments for any wrong doing by the animal or the owners.

We here have cooperated with all the laws and complied 100% but I still can’t help but think that they are using USRS as an example. Their way of thinking does not necessarily solve the problems, especially in regards to animals, Euthanasia should not be a pert of the solution; however,  any other suggestions presented to them to make this work was not even considered for discussion.

What is in Store for the future for the animals and our children?

It has been a rough year as you will see in the upcoming web series, but it is time to put this chapter behind us and step up the significant change that is taking place at a new Urban Safari Rescue Society. Under the guidance of a new board of directors, new staff and volunteers that are committed to compassionate animal welfare Urban Safari Rescue Society will be revitalized and continue its work rescuing these abandoned animals. Most importantly, our new facility will be much more conducive to the mental and physical health of the animals. We ask you to come and visit Urban Safari Rescue Society to see the excellent work we have been doing for many years and judge for yourself.

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