Spruce Haven Zoo still at odds with OSPCASaturday, October 12, 2013 by: Darren Taylor
Spruce Haven Zoo's Helen Marshall is distraught, to say the least, over the Zoo's relationship with the Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (OSPCA).
Marshall, who is co-owner and operator of the facility with her husband Ken, told SooToday.com this week she is frustrated with a series of orders issued by the OSPCA, in which the agency is demanding significant changes in the way animals at the Zoo are being housed.
As reported in August by SooToday.com, the Marshalls feel strongly that ongoing trouble with the OSPCA stems from complaints raised by Zoocheck Canada three years ago.
In August, 2010, Zoocheck criticized the enclosures where the animals are kept at the Third Line facility, which has been in business since 1988.
In a report, Zoocheck claimed most enclosures were too small, that the animals needed clean drinking water, bedding and privacy, and that the predators and prey animals were too close together.
An August 14, 2013 visit from the OSPCA did not happen as expected.
Supporters of the Marshalls turned out to protest what was expected to be removal of several Spruce Haven animals by the OSPCA that day.
Instead, Ken Marshall told us a verbal agreement had been reached between Spruce Haven Zoo and the OSPCA regarding complaints aimed at the Zoo, and that in the verbal agreement, Spruce Haven Zoo’s own veterinarian and a vet appointed with the OSPCA would compile a report on Zoo conditions and that Spruce Haven would abide by any recommendations or rulings contained in that report.
Regardless, Helen Marshall told us the OSPCA-issued orders keep piling up.
Marshall told us: "They (the OSPCA) haven't been open to helping us in any way."
"They have just slapped order after order on us."
Among those orders, she said, are those pertaining to a 26-year-old bear named Ben (pictured), a 14-year-old coyote and two lions at Spruce Haven.
"The coyote, the OSPCA says, is lonesome and needs a mate," Marshall said.
"She is not alone, the lynx beside her is her friend, I visit her, and many other people come to see her. She is not alone, she's like a happy old dog. They are saying the coyote should be put in another zoo, and there's no way any of our animals are leaving here."
"These are my animals, I'm not hoarding, we've downsized and we're just looking after the old animals we have."
Marshall added: "They (the OSPCA) say the lions need two separate, heated dens. They've slept together for the past 10 years and never even had a sniffle, but now according to the OSPCA they need two separate heated dens. They're litter mates and de-clawed and been together all their life."
As for Ben, Marshall said "Zoocheck Canada says Ben's enclosure is the worst they've ever seen."
"I think Ben's enclosure is wonderful, I have cared for him for 26 years. He's my favourite animal on this property and he is not unhappy, he is totally amazing. There's no way I would ever do anything to put stress on him."
Marshall claims Spruce Haven is being bullied by the OSPCA, and that the agency's orders are uncalled for.
"It doesn't matter if they're wrong, they are doing everything they can to prove they're right," Marshall said.
"We've had four months of this, one thing after another."
There are various OSPCA compliance deadlines on 20 different orders slapped on Spruce Haven, Marshall said.
One deadline is December 31, 2013, while others extend as far as 2015.
The next deadline is October 22, regarding proper locks on enclosures.
Marshall insists proper locks have been installed on all enclosures.
"I don't want to see them (the OSPCA) here," Marshall said, adding Spruce Haven has hired a lawyer.
Marshall insists Spruce Haven has obeyed all orders, only to have more orders slapped on them.
OSPCA Senior Inspector Lynn Michaud, with whom the Marshalls have been communicating, could not be reached for comment Friday.
In contrast to Marshall's claims the OSPCA has not offered advice to help Spruce Haven in its care of its animals, OSPCA Investigations and Communications Officer Brad Dewar, speaking to SooToday.com Friday from the organization's head office in Newmarket, said: "Because this is currently an open investigation I can't go into any details, but anytime we receive word of concerns we check the validity of those concerns and our goal is to work with the owners to provide standards of care under provincial legislation, and written orders are a means to accomplish that."
"Orders give owners a date and time in which to meet those standards."
"Our goal is always to work with the owner," Dewar said.
"When it comes to the possibility of animals being removed from a zoo, that's an absolute last resort. That's only if a person fails to comply in accordance with the law. Removal of animals takes place only when all other efforts to work with the owners have been exhausted."
LillyGirl 10/12/2013 3:11:03 PM Report
As much as I love Spruce Haven and support them I have to agree that Bens enclosure is very small for his size. He should have a enclosure the size you have for the deer or buffalo of llamas. His is very small.
CTgasman 10/12/2013 3:33:59 PM Report
This so called zoo is a disaster. The removal of these animals should have happened many years ago. I am sure the orders that they have been given are from laws written for the protection of all animals. This is a simple solution to this story. Comply with the orders given and the OSPCA will leave them alone. If they cannot comply with the orders then maybe they should not have animals.
nanci 10/12/2013 4:09:08 PM Report
Spruce Haven Zoo and the Marshall's have been given a heads up since 2010. Deplorable conditions. Not a personal attack at all, just time the Marshall's realized that what they are doing is cruel punishment. Keeping animals alone in small cages. Quality of life? Think about it? Would any of us be happy for 26years in the same small cage with no communication or interaction with our own kind? Through education we have learned better ways to treat animals in far more humane ways. Wildlife preserves offering natural habitat and interaction with their own kind. Please OSPCA act now before they are all dead and possibly replaced by younger models.
MsNic 10/12/2013 4:20:49 PM Report
Ben's wire cage just doesn't live up to standards. In the photo I see no straw or bedding, no shelter, a very tiny cage, no water and no company. It doesn't look nearly adequate to me. I hope the other animals have better living conditions.
I think the Marshalls heart is in the right place but they should follow the SPCA and Zoo Check's conditions. They are the experts and are both requiring the same or similar conditions.
Wisenheimer 10/12/2013 4:32:03 PM Report
Writing's on the wall folks .. no circuses, no mom and pop zoos, no ponies going door to door for pics with the young'ins. The hippies grew up and man are they ever a pain in the ass. Grandfather Spruce Havens' animals, I'm sure they perfectly content not knowing how hard done by they are.
Neon_Angel 10/12/2013 4:38:11 PM Report
Really? This zoo claims that they want the best for these animals and yet when the OSPCA (who's main initiative is for the care and welfare of animals) gives them orders to comply with for the animals welfare, they just get frustrated and complain they are being victimized. They said themselves they aren't getting advice from them on how to care for their animals ummm shouldn't you already know how to do that if you are so good at running your zoo?! The orders they are giving you are the advice!! Considering the fact that they think people visiting the zoo would be considered friends by a coyote just proves the lack of knowledge they have. And the ongoing trouble is clearly because they are now having a temper tantrum over the fact that someone is finally taking action towards improving their animals lives, and they just don't want to do it!! If they really cared about their animals they would be doing anything they could to help out their animals. Instead it's more whining and pleas they are the victim. Get over yourselves, no ones buying it anymore!
The report from 1995 even comments on the conditions, it is ridiculous it is still going on.
hodedo68 10/12/2013 4:42:28 PM Report
I agree 100% with LillyGirl that was my first impression as well. other then Ben's enclosure I was impressed with facility a great place to take the young ones.
Tag33&1/3rd 10/12/2013 6:15:12 PM Report
I brought a bag of food for animals there once (my our first and only time there)---most of food was from M&M's---we wrang bell inside the place nobody came--- we went back towards the car--- a guy on a tractor drove by--no hello or nothing--we said we have food to donate--he said leave it there--and kept driving.
I brought my elderly parents there to see the animals and to donate food!--it was during regular business hours---we felt very unwelcome and he didn't even say thank-you! Yes we left the food there-- I emailed them when we got home--about the uncomfortable situation and the drive there and the excitement of my elderly parents to see some of the animals---they didn't even respond to the email!!! (about 2 yrs ago!)
If people get treated that way--how do the animals get treated?
chums-mom 10/12/2013 6:32:39 PM Report
I have to give a thumbs up to what the Marshall's have done for these animals. If there are changes to be made I know and I am confident they will comply with what needs to be done. If you have attended the zoo only once how can you speak of the interaction the animals have with the Marshall's. I know for a fact that the whole family has been involved with the care of all the animals all their lives. I have seen first hand when Mrs Marshall took an owl in that hit the smoke stack at algoma steel. Her daily care saved that birds life. Many animals have been placed with them from local organizations. There may need to be some changes made and that is between the Marshall's and the government, But at least give a Kudos Where a Kudos is due I for one want to say thank you for the many years of enjoyment you have provided to me and my family, and the care you have given to these animals.
nanci 10/12/2013 6:54:52 PM Report
Please read American Black Bears in Ontario. July 1999, Marilyn Cole, BSc.,M.E.S. Interesting and informative.
nanci 10/12/2013 6:56:15 PM Report
Addition to above post, The Bear Essentials.
Lleoy 10/12/2013 7:55:14 PM Report
Its all about the money, they keep taking it in and not putting it back into the zoo. Maybe Canada Revenue should take a good look at the people working there as well. After all the years they have been in business, they shouldn't need any help. They should be professionals. Zoo check, pull up, and packem up.
thomas 10/12/2013 9:17:36 PM Report
In Helen's words: He's (Ben) my favourite animal on this property. Helen, if that is so, why does he live in such a small enclosure with no room to roam and nothing that even resembles a natural setting for him?
Just because he isn't roaring, growling, attacking care-givers or aimlessly sitting in a corner, doesn't tell me he's happy. He has had to make do with what he has, and that isn't much.
TaliasVeganBaking 10/12/2013 10:54:26 PM Report
Wild animals shouldn't be stuck in cages for the rest of their lives, or at all but that is only my opinion.
girlygirl123 10/12/2013 11:31:51 PM Report
This zoo is a disaster. Many reports have gone un-noticed by the city. Ben once had a swimming pool and plenty of room till that poor bear got stuck in a way to small of a cage. If you have the money to purchase all these animals than you should have the money to provide humane care. The water is often filthy and who heard of a little drinking bowl for those big cats and bear? It should of been closed a long time ago. And whoever supports such cruelty needs to get a better understanding of animals. I am sure they don't keep their dog in a little cache. Spruce heaven is Spruce hell for these animals.
kamen 10/13/2013 5:58:31 AM Report
Ben does need a bigger enclosure, I love the zoo so much and I don't want to see it close down....as for a mate for the coyote...what happens if they don't get along...and how does one happen to stumble on a mate for a coyote? Heated dens would be nice for the lions but why not just one big heated den? They have come to the point where one heated den would be good enough. yes changes have to be made. In reality they changes in enclosure size and rearranging the prey and predator animals wouldn't be all that difficult. Have a fundraiser for it or something. Even is Ben gets an enclosure the size of the mountain Lion Enclosure, it would do him some good.
Monsterenergy1984 10/13/2013 8:57:21 AM Report
zoo is a disaster agreed with that if they really care for the animals there they will fix the place up and give proper housing for the animals
kat12 10/13/2013 10:07:57 AM Report
Why don't they ask Essar to donate materials to build Ben a better enclosure? Perhaps they could have a fund raiser, or ask Habitat for Humanity to sponsor a new "home" for Ben.
After all of those years, he should have a bigger place, with room to roam, and some trees for shade; bears love apple trees. I'd plant blueberries and raspberries and other local fruits/berries in the enclosure for him if I were the zookeeper, even if new plants had to be put in yearly.
He should have a pond/swimming hole.
I know it all costs money and I wouldn't agree with other posters that they are "raking in" the money; the few times I've gone out there I've been the only visitor. I think they could use some help to get the zoo enclosures up to standard.
weather man 10/14/2013 9:45:59 AM Report
I totally agree with Tag. My daughter, her friend and I collected 4 BIG BOXES of frozen meat from friends and relatives.It was very difficult carrying these heavy boxes to the door, the owner saw us, didn't attempt to help, she didn't seem thankful at all, especially when we asked to take a quick peek at the animals, she charged us full price! It's all about the money! This unfriendly owner shouldn't be in business.
Daaana 10/14/2013 10:34:44 AM Report
Few yrs. back in Sept. I had called the zoo asking if they were still open. Yes, was their reply. Said I would be out the following day. My 4yr old granddaughter and I had a 45 minute drive there, and had talked extensively and solely about animals the long drive there.We were so pumped up about our zoo outing. Only to be told by the owner she was closed. I couldn't BELIEVE it! I told her I had called the day before, the distance we traveled,that I had donated meat there before,I had outings at the zoo with my girl guides, brownies,boy scouts, many times before.She had NO COMPASSION, told me she was closed due to change in the weather. I didn't understand her because the weather was just fine, for me to bring a 4 yr old. I'm guessing if we were a bigger group she would have opened the doors($$$$). All about $$$$. Granddaughter then started to cry. It was heart breaking.I then asked if we could play on the swings they have by the parking lot.To try and salvage this outing somewhat.She said "no we are closed" WOW,I had to respond. Told her if she had grandchildren, I feel sorry for them. And if she treated people like this what about the animals ? We will never go back.
RobMel 10/15/2013 7:19:38 AM Report
This place is a nightmare. Back a few years ago there was a zoo out west that made national news for the state in which the animals were made to live in. It was called Guzzo Roadside Zoo. The owners faced multiple charges, had the zoo shut down and some animals had to be euthanized because their health was so jeopardized it was cruel to keep them alive. With that being said google "Guzzo Roadside Zoo Pictures" and decide for yourself whether they are fairly close to what we have at Spruce Haven. The owners may think they are doing well by these animals; and in the past they have, but they have become sloppy and careless. They say thats OSPCA is not working with them? The fact this place is STILL open says that they are working with them, if it was my call, it would be VERY different from what is happening right now. I will not support ANY form of fundraiser/group to help these people. I will however support any group with the removal and shut down of this hell farm. The people need to step up and start demanding that the OSPCA finally step in and deal with this mess. Create a facebook page, twitter. Expose this place to the rest of the world.
wakeup 10/15/2013 11:57:32 AM Report
If this bear has had to live in this cage all these years, its sickening, my best friend , / dog i wouldnt place in a cage like that, an why are lions having to live in a climate like ours, those lion should have been found a proper home obviously years ago, dont know much about these people , but just looking at the cage this bear is in, these people especialy thos woman are sick, you say the bear is your fiend yet look at his home, complete abuse of this animal, how you look your self in the mirror an say you take care of him WOW, have heard massive complaints about this place for as many years as its been open, an why they arent walking in there an forcing change before winter an suffering of these animals continues is beyong belief, to all of you who bleed purple p for these people i pray none of you have pet friends as i can just imagine their lives, how dare these people keep these animals this way, a bare existance, gaurenteed depressed animals , because the claim they dont know any different i guess is a good enough excuse for sick treatment of a animal who has no choice
fronz 10/15/2013 8:07:09 PM Report
Hello , I've used sprucehavens kennel service . And have had no problems .
These creatures to the Marshals are actually pets . Most will be destroyed if taken from the zoo .
Why not just leave it be ? With no exotic additions ?
KPM 10/16/2013 9:54:04 AM Report
I brought my pet to them years ago and when I called to pick her up 40 minutes before closing Helen told me, rather rudely, to come the next day. I remarked about their closing time and was ignored and told not to show up. Feeling like something was wrong I hurried up the their place, still 20 minutes early, but the only thing on Ken's mind was that he lost an extra day's boarding fee. I was shocked and while paying my bill I told him, "keep the change", as my way of saying money isn't everything. As I turned to leave he yells, "I"m putting you down in my book! You won't ever be allowed here again!" To which I turned and replied, "whatever makes you think I would let people like you care for my pet ever again?!" What also struck me is Ken's words about his zoo. "this is a BUSINESS that's ALL it is!", which made me say, "then honor your posted closing time." Especially when, a year earlier, the Marshall's were in the Star begging for the Soo's sympathy to change a bi-law so as they could keep a moose they claimed to be up every night nursing back to health. From my experience I knew all they were really after was a crowd drawing card with that moose to make money. Since that worked so well they've been adding more animals with the people's sympathy to make money ever since. Yes the Marshall's are good at playing the sympathy card in the media but their poor business practices and worse personalities show through in reality. Give it up Helen/Ken, you fooled people long ago but we see your greed now. If you really cared about these animals you'd have followed the orders given to you and run your BUSINESS properly. Since you won't spend the money nor take the time to run your BUSINESS properly, do everyone and the animals a favor, take your money and close your pathetic BUSINESS.
rcssm69 10/16/2013 2:01:35 PM Report
It's Habitat for HUMANITY!!!!