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Hyak2 reviews the Border City Petting Zoo

Discussion in 'Canada' started by Hyak_II, 18 May 2019.

  1. Hyak_II

    Hyak_II Well-Known Member

    19 Jan 2014
    Welp, I decided to pay a little visit to the last real roadside zoo in western Canada today, and my main take away is "yikes".

    The Border City Petting Zoo is a small facility located just outside the town of Lloydminster, in the province of Saskatchewan. It is owned by a couple in their 60's, and truly gives the impression of a private collection gone public sometime back in the '70's, and is somehow still open today.

    My first impression upon pulling into the facility is "yikes". The couple that own the zoo live on the property (their house is right beside the entrance to the zoo), and the first thing you actually see is a fenced off yard with mini horses and random junk strewn about. This is not part of the zoo, but the owners personal "yard". As you pull in, there is a partially flooded grassy field with some old swing sets and other play equipment beside the small gravel parking lot. The entrance to the zoo is through a wooden fence, and the first thing you are greeted with is the ticket booth, complete with the owner taking payments, a cat, and a large dog wandering around the entrance. To your left is a large building housing a concession area and room with some posters and animal artifacts, straight down the center is what appears to be a large wooden building of some sort, and to your right is the reptile house.

    Heading right, you enter the reptile house. In front are two grassy "pens", each one housing a single sulcata tortoise. In the small reptile house, you are presented with around 17 assorted reptile enclosures, ranging in size from around 18 inch cubes, to the largest which measures perhaps 6'x15' and 8 feet high. Species list is as follows:

    Green Iguana
    American Alligator
    Carpet Python
    Burmese Python
    Red Tailed Boa
    Ball Python
    Leopard Gecko
    Eurythean Plated Lizard
    Bearded Dragon
    Three Toed Box "Tortoise"
    Eastern Box "Tortoise"
    Red FootedTortoise
    Unidentified water turtle

    The loser in this building, and as a matter of fact the whole zoo, is the single American Alligator. Its a reasonably sized animal roughly 8 feet long that seems to be in generally good health. However its exhibit is sorely lacking. Its entire enclosure is 6 feet wide, somewhere around 12-15 feet long, and disgustingly under stimulating. Half the enclosure consists of a children's sandbox turned pool, giving the poor beast a meager 6 inches of water to soak in. The other half is simply painted cement. An absolutely bland and uninspiring enclosure. In addition, due to the lack of space and movement opportunities, you can see the poor gators muscles are atrophied away to absolutely nothing.

    Aside from the gator, all other other enclosures would rank as what I would consider adequate (but wholesomely uninspiring and bare bones), consisting of substrate, a water dish and food, and perhaps a branch or hide.

    Also of note, there was a water turtle of some sort housed in with their box turtles and tortoises, in a wholesomely inappropriate terrestrial enclosure. I couldn't ID it, but I think it was either a blandings turtle, or african side neck of some sort. I'll post pictures in the gallery for ID.

    Leaving the reptile house, you pass a chainlink dog kennel with a single domestic duck in it. Past this, you pass the large wooden building. Turns out it is a strangely designed bird coop. On either side there are smaller aviaries, one with a number of Ring Neck Doves and Coturnix Quail, and the other with a single Silver Pheasant (and I'll assume a hen that was hiding as well, from the eggs on the floor). The main bulk of this shack is a chicken coop, with 3 small viewing windows looking into it. It is very dingy, and quite pathetic. While the alligator gets shafted the most with enclosure size, this chicken coop is by far the worst in actual quality. Its unlit and dark (the only light coming in from the tiny viewing windows), dirty, and wholesomely depressing. Inside I saw a variety of domestic chickens, some domestic pigeons, and a single male Reeves Pheasant.

    Moving past here, the zoo is essentially divided into three areas, left, right, and center. To the right are the carnivores and primates. All of these enclosures are what I would consider adequate purely in terms of the actual size of the enclosures, but that's about the only thing I would consider adequate about them. The primate enclosures (two pens mirroring each other) house a female pair of Black and White Ruffed Lemurs, and a single Japanese Macaque. These enclosures are both absolutely pathetic, considering how simple it would be to make them decent. Both have children's swings, hanging tires, and suspended plastic barrels for climbing structures (thats it. No branches, ropes, or other structures), with grassy floors.

    Moving along is a barren, dusty lion enclosure. There is a single hut in the middle, and a shift pen to the left, and that's about it. No indoor housing, no pools, rocks, climbing or shade structures, plants, toys, nothing at all. Housed inside are a pair of fat and apathetic looking lions.

    Beside this are three very similar enclosures, one for a pair of Canadian Lynx, one empty, and the last for a single Bobcat. All three are grassy, with a water dish, wooden hide, and not much else. The bobcat caught a gatersnake while I was watching and played around with it for a minute, it was probably the most enrichment the animal had received since the last unfortunate prey animal entered its enclosure.

    After this is an enclosure for two older wolves. Quite bland, its a mix of dirt and some grass, with a den and some rocks in the middle. Very bland and under stimulating for the two lazy wolves.

    Finally, the last enclosure is for a single American Black Bear. Similar in size to the wolf enclosure, this is by far the best of the carnivore enclosures. It features a pool, large tire for the bear to climb on, as well as a large in ground den. The enclosure is also very grassy with some small shrubs. Of note, this enclosure does not have a shift area, the bear is (and can only be) managed free contact. Interestingly, none of these enclosures, primate or carnivore, have vestibules for their entrances. Should a staff member forget to lock a door or latch something, or an animal was feeling particularly squirrelly and slipped past through the open door, there is nothing between the animal and escaping into the zoo.

    Centrally is the main petting area. There are a number of small, dirt pens with a variety of domestic stock. At my visit there were pygmy goats, pot bellied pigs, sheep, domestic geese, domestic ducks, a mini donkey, and a llama.

    Moving along, to the left are the remaining "exotics" of the zoo. There is a large, very damp exhibit with busted fences for a single Bison, a row of netted pens for a variety of birds (I saw domestic chickens, domestic pigeons, a pair of blue peafowl, some guineafowl, some ring necked pheasants, and some domestic turkeys). Moving back towards the entrance, there is a smallish, muddy yard for a pair of young Ostrich, a grassy yard for a pair of Emu, and a moderately sized muddy yard for a single male Dromedary Camel and Ram. Around here there are also a couple of semi-off display yards for various barnyard stock, I saw goats, cows, mini horses, and more pot bellied pigs. THere were also some roosters running around freely here.

    Coming from here, you are back to the entrance, and that's it. The entire place can be walked through in about 15 minutes, and most visitors seemed to stay for about 25-30 minutes. I was there for about an hour, and was the only person there for at least 15-20 minutes of my visit.

    I've visited the majority of zoos in western Canada now, and this little road side attraction sits squarely at the bottom of my list. It is by far the WORST zoo in western Canada. It is small, the enclosures are barely adequate, the animals, although in good condition look terribly under stimulated, and the staff, although friendly, are wholesomely unknowledgeable and unmotivated with their charges. With even minimal effort, this little menagerie could easily be transformed into a lovely little family attraction with visually appealing and enriching enclosures, but alas, without a major change in mentality from the owners and staff, or some new, more motivated staff, I don't see anything changing anytime soon.
    sooty mangabey and snowleopard like this.
  2. DavidBrown

    DavidBrown Well-Known Member

    12 Aug 2008
    California, USA
    How is a place like this allowed to exist in Canada? Your country seems like it has some fairly strict animal welfare regulations relative to the more relaxed regulatory parts of the U.S. where roadside zoos still exist. Is that not the case?
  3. snowleopard

    snowleopard Well-Known Member Premium Member

    1 Dec 2007
    Abbotsford, B.C., Canada
    It is rather astonishing that a roadside menagerie such as the Border City Petting Zoo continues to exist, although the enclosures, for the most part, reach minimum standards. In a nation where the accredited Vancouver Aquarium can never again display a whale or dolphin, this tiny Saskatchewan 'zoo' is allowed to remain open. The good news is that Border City Petting Zoo is one of the last of its kind, and I visited the zoo last summer. My review is found on the Snowleopard's 2018 Road Trip thread and I was not impressed at all. @Hyak_II has written an informative review that echoes many of my comments, including mention of the diabolical American Alligator enclosure.
  4. geomorph

    geomorph Well-Known Member Premium Member

    28 May 2009
    Newport Beach, CA, USA
    Thank you for this thorough review! I shall never visit this zoo but I feel as if I have and want my imaginary admission money back.