The former owner of a zoo in Quebec, Canada, has pleaded guilty to four animal welfare offences. Despite this, he will not face criminal charges.
Normand Trahan was the owner of the Saint-Édouard-de-Maskinongé Zoo. Complaints from visitors in 2018 sparked an investigation into the facility.
Subsequently, the Montreal SPCA unearthed evidence of animal abuse and neglect at the zoo.
Animals were found “deprived” of food and water, according to CTV News. Additionally, they lived in “cramped and unsanitary” conditions and were not given adequate veterinary care.
Veterinarian Dr. Marion Desmarchelier visited the facility in 2018 as part of the investigation. She disclosed that, throughout the duration of her career, she had “never seen anything approaching the [zoo’s] conditions.”
She concluded that many of the captive animals were at an immediate risk of dying from hunger or cold. Further, the animals were forced to eat “highly contaminated” or frozen food that was unsuitable for their needs. Oftentimes, they ate food from their own excrement.
In 2019, more than 200 captive animals were seized from the facility. This included lions, tigers, bears, wolves, kangaroos, zebras, and primates. It was purported to be the largest zoo animal seizure in Canadian history.
The animals have since been relocated to different facilities in Canada and the US, which the SPCA says can offer the “specialized care they need.”
Trahan initially denied the allegations, and attempted to block the seizure of the animals.
He later admitted that the majority of his animals were not given veterinary care. Animals who became sick, he said, were typically kept out of visitors’ sights.
Further, Trahan was keeping animal species from hotter climates in non-heated enclosures. And, the former owner revealed he had shot and killed a lion and a tiger, and had stepped on a bird to kill it.
Ultimately, Trahan pleaded guilty to four infractions under Quebec’s Animal Welfare and Safety Act.
He must pay more than $6,800 in fines, and is banned from owning animals for commercial purposes for five years. He is permitted to keep pets at home.
Trahan’s lawyer, Michel Lebrun, said in a statement: “I would tell you that Mr. Trahan is relieved and very happy to move on and be able to consider a peaceful retirement.”