Does Vision Vancouver have a beef with critters in captivity?

Post by Mike Klassen in


Is opposition to animals in captivity prompting the move to close the Conservatory and petting zoo?

In the debate raging about the closure of two of Vancouver's coveted park attractions – the Bloedel Conservatory, and the Stanley Park Farmyard (aka the petting zoo) – the question has shifted to why these facilities were targeted and not others? Some are wondering if this is about animals in captivity.

It's a well-known hobbyhorse of the left that they do not like animals or sea mammals to be held in captivity. The Vision Vancouver Park Board caucus have never explicitly stated their opposition to animals in captivity, yet the question has been asked enough that we felt we should raise.

In the case of the Farm, the animals for the most part are domestic breeds – pigs, goats and the like. The Conservatory is home to approximately 100 exotic birds. The import of exotic birds in recent years has been highly controversial, and strictly controlled by the federal government.

Organizations like PETA are militantly opposed to any animals being held in captivity, calling them "pitiful prisons" and mere entertainment rather than places to educate. PETA and Vision are ethically-connected by their attachment to the Tides Foundation, the leading funder for left wing causes in the USA and Canada. Mayor Gregor Robertson's sage and key financial backer is Tides board member Joel Solomon.

Clearly, there are many in the public who feel differently on the matter. People like Yosef Wosk are poneying up big bucks to save the farm, and others are rallying for the Conservatory.

Vision's stated aim has been to "out NPA the NPA" and provide a 2% tax increase in their upcoming budget. But we should ask if there is an ulterior motive behind the hasty decision to close these 2 valued public attractions.


I am puzzled why we still have not seen the attendance records for these 2 "attractions". In the real world, places like Storeum live and die by attendance and a balance sheet. Yes, there is some need for greater good type decisions but why does there seem to be a huge gap in information - or is this pure political theatre!

I think it would be tragic if we lost the petting zoo. I grew up in this city and had a huge love of animals as a child. My favorite place in the entire city was the Stanley Park Petting Zoo. For a child, it is such a wonderful experience being able to interact with animals. And especially growing up in the city, where children do not have access to farm animals (not every one has a car to travel out to the Vancouver Zoo - then again, I think more questions I have been raised in the media about the treatment of animals there anyways).

I hope someone starts up a foundation to keep it open. They can count me as a supporter.

In the case of the Conservatory they have legitimate argument that access to the facility was impeded by the Canada Line construction and reservoir upgrades that took years.

For anyone who hasn't been up top lately to check out the new plaza and fountains, it's one of Vancouver's finest public spaces. Now that the trees have been trimmed for the view, it's again a great lookout for locals and visitors alike.

then let them produce attendance records and balance sheets for the past 5 years. Compare it to other places like Van Dusen Gardens.

If the public had to pay sufficent admission to cover the costs of the enterprise, would they still go?

Don't get me wrong, I love gardens and animals but the dollars involved could go a long way in other parts of the city budget to make our city livable.

Let the city lease the facility to an NPO for $1 and have someone other than the taxpayer keep the boat afoat.

This Conservatory Zoo closure nonsense is the oldest trick in the book...if you want to justify raising taxes, charging fees or running a deficit; threaten to close a couple of attractive public spaces....then say the demand to keep them open was overwhelming. If council wants to shut em down so be it.

I would not be surprised if this hypothesis is correct. The fact that, in the case of the Bloedel at least, closure is likely to result in the death of many of the animals through stress and the disruption of their environment would never stand in the way of the ideologues.

At the meeting on Thursday outside the City Hall I was able to ask Aaron Jasper directly about certain Visionary expenditures thanks to information in your articles. The effect was entertaining! There is no way to describe these people accurately without breaching good taste guidelines.

Julia is asking some good questions. Here is what a quick on-line search reveals:
Farmyard: For the year 1997, prior to 'Bright Lights' and the "Ghost Train, Farmyard visits were reported as 13,079, with revenues of $12,977. Recent media coverage reports that current attendance is running at 150,000 with most of that occurring during the two events. Of course, if these were all paid admissions I don't see how the Farmyard would be running at a loss.
Bloedel Conservatory: Current media coverage says that attendance in the 1990s was hovering around 120,000/year, which dropped to around 50,000 during the Plaza and Cambie construction projects.
By way of comparison, VanDusen annual attendance is said currently to run about 135,000 per year.
All of these operations are heavily subsidized, as is every public pool, ice rink and community centre in the city. Obviously, so too is every park and beach, to say nothing of playing fields, tennis courts, etc. etc.
Parks and recreation services are a benefit to the whole city, not just the direct users. More than the bottom line has to be considered in their administration.

yes, more than the bottom line has to be considered. What was the attendance in 2005?

I heard one speaker during the public meeting suggest that the train is viable - the zoo is not, and there is no blending of budgets. Who made that decision and what does that say about the Board's dedication to the zoo?

I think the Parks Board needs to look at its core mandate and what we ask them to do as taxpayers. I don't consider maintaining tourist attractions as part of that mandate.

Check out!

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