Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Toronto-Based Zoocheck Helps Change The Way People Think

Toronto-based Zoocheck helps change the way people think



Giving a voice to animals. Zoocheck ensures all animals in captivity are being treated well. Stock Photo
There are countless rescue organizations that invest in the welfare of our companion animals, the most visible of the animals that share our every day lives. However, shining a light on other wildlife - whether they inhabit local areas, reside in zoos or other parts of the world - can sometimes be more challenging.
Zoocheck Canada is a charity organization based in Toronto that focuses solely on the promotion and protection of these animals and since 1984 has been their voice, creating change in how our wildlife, captive and otherwise, are treated in our country.

Rob Laidlaw, founder and executive director of the organization, said he was inspired to launch Zoocheck after working with other groups and not being satisfied with the results. Often in the animal field, it's difficult, or a long time coming, to see whether you've had an effect. "I was looking for an issue where I thought at the end of the year I could say 'I achieved this'," he said. He found that issue after visiting a zoo in Wasaga Beach where a range of native and exotic wildlife was kept in substandard conditions. "I decided this was an issue you could focus on, this was an issue that could be dealt with," he said. After finding out there were no laws in Ontario governing these types of operations, Laidlaw decided if there would be any change, he'd have to be the one to make them happen, and he's been doing that for the last 25 years.

You probably never heard of Zoocheck Canada and Laidlaw said this is because rather than fundraising, they focus on changing bylaws and legislation and activism, a part of the equation of change that a lot of people miss. "Sure, it's hard work. Sure, it can be aggravating and frustrating. It can cost money, but ultimately if you think something is wrong and nobody else is doing something about it, I think you have to make a decision to be that person," he said. While zoo issues have been the core of their work, Zoocheck Canada is currently working on several wildlife campaigns including a cormorant campaign. Cormorants are a fish-eating bird that has faced persecution in Ontario in recent years. "They used to be very populace in North America, but because of pesticide use and human persecution they were almost completely annihilated," he said...

For more of this article, visit Inside Toronto

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