Notorious Reptile Zoo Won’t Be Coming to London After All

It was almost exactly one year ago that Reptilia Inc. announced plans to open a location in London, Ontario—even though zoos with non-native animals were outlawed years ago in London. Reptilia asked the city for a free pass—they wanted a special by-law exemption to keep crocodiles, alligators, snakes, and lizards in small enclosures at a local shopping centre.  

Animal Justice testified against the scheme at London City Council, and has worked closely with our colleagues at Zoocheck, who have led the charge against Reptilia opening a zoo. Today the issue came to a vote, and happily London’s city councillors voted “no”, rejecting the plan by a 9-6 count.

Reptilia currently has establishments in Vaughan and Whitby and has been aiming to expand. However, in many municipalities, bylaws are in place that prohibit the keeping of certain reptiles for reasons relating to animal welfare and public safety. Concerned citizens joined Zoocheck, Animal Justice, World Animal Protection, Animal Alliance of Canada, and others in submitting statements of objection to the council.

Thank you to the councillors and to everyone who took the time to speak out for crocodiles, alligators, snakes, and lizards!

Image shows enclosure at Reptilia Vaughan
Enclosure at Reptilia’s Vaughan location.

As exposed in Animal Justice’s 2022 undercover exposé of Ontario zoos, Reptilia’s facilities are a nightmare for animals. The cramped enclosures are designed to put animals on public display instead of providing a suitable habitat. In confinement, animals are denied the ability to express their natural behaviours, which can lead to boredom, depression, anxiety, and heartbreaking mental and physical anguish.  

Ontario has some of the worst exotic animal laws in the country. Laws are so weak in Ontario that authorities are left without the tools to properly address animal suffering and public health risks even in the face of serious issues. Roadside zoos also promote owning reptiles as pets, which leaves charities to pick up the slack when animals aren’t properly cared for and must be rehomed. As one delegate explained to London City Council: “Zoos are a pain for humane societies because they have a poor record within their organizations of adhering to their own poor standards.” 

With your support, Animal Justice lawyers will continue working to stop cruel zoos from opening in Canada, hold the zoo industry accountable for animal abuse, and encourage politicians to pass stronger exotic animal laws to protect animals from the widespread suffering they endure in captivity.