Have no fear — the emus, wallabies and llamas of High Park Zoo are not going anywhere any time soon.
City council voted to accept donations to ensure High Park Zoo stays open for the rest of 2012 and, at the very least, a good portion of 2013.
Through a collective effort by the Friends of High Park Zoo, the Toronto Trees and Parks Foundation and the Honey Family Foundation, the community has raised more than enough for 2012.
However, more money still needs to be raised to keep the zoo open for 2013.
So far, $88,678 has been raised, with the Honey Family Foundation offering to match another $50,000, which means the zoo still needs another $88,000.
“I’m not concerned … I think we’re good for 2013, because once we start that $50,000 match, people will start coming forward,” said Ward 13 councillor Sarah Doucette.
Meanwhile, the Friends of High Park Zoo will continue to search for a long-term solution to the funding shortfall.
“We’re still looking for sustainable corporate sponsorship,” Doucette pointed out.
They’re also trying to promote the zoo to attract more schools and group tours. They plan to hold a dinner and silent auction in September.
Previously, the group was looking at sustainable options to raise cash such as selling llama manure to compost, but that idea was nixed.
“I’m not allowed to do that anymore, because we only have a small amount of zoo poo and in order to sell it, you need to sterilize it,” Doucette said.
The motion to accept the charitable funds passed almost unanimously, save for the vote of Ward 22 councillor Josh Matlow.
Matlow said it was a matter of principle.
“I have a concern about the standards of how some of the animals are kept at small zoos,” he said.
He said those improvements regard room to move and light versus shade ratio. He also had reservations about exotic animals being in zoos. He said he would consider supporting the zoo in the future if he was convinced that animal welfare standards have been considered.
Doucette said she’d spoken with Matlow regarding animals in captivity in the past. She contended the animals at High Park Zoo were not “caged” but were merely tamed animals that happened to live in pens.
Back at High Park Zoo, it’s safe to say whether or not exotic animals should be at the zoo is not a top-of-mind issue.
The recent birth of a llama garnered significantly more attention. The llama was named Honey in recognition of the family foundation that helped keep the zoo open.
“The animals are still producing, so there will probably be some more announcements next week,” Doucette said.
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