Mayor Keith Hobbs thinks the Chippewa Wildlife Exhibit should be close down.
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Should the city stay in the zoo business?
Mayor Keith Hobbs doesn't think so.
In the wake of a moose at the Chippewa Wildlife Exhibit dying, Hobbs said he's been bombarded with messages and emails calling for the zoo's closure.
"I don't think that's one of the functions of a city to provide that kind of entertainment to people," he said. "I don't view it as entertainment. Personally I don't find watching animals in captivity very stimulating."
But Coun. Andrew Foulds said while he understands that some people may not like seeing animals in captivity, a majority of the animals at the park are rescued. And because the animals are from Northwestern Ontario, it offers the public a chance to learn and appreciate the region's wildlife.
"I think there's a real value in that," Foulds said.
Hobbs said he's asked city administration to look into the business, which runs about $95,000 a year.
He thinks Chippewa Park is a great spot and that the Friends of Chippewa Park have done a great job but there are better ways to use the land that the zoo is on.
Hobbs said he'd like to see a waterpark run by the private sector as an example. City staff at the zoo currently would likely move to other departments.
"I don't want to see anybody lose their jobs over this," he said.
Foulds said he's all for having administration look at better ways to run the wildlife exhibit for both the animals and the public but wants to see it stay as a zoo in the public's hands.
"I don't see many other private sector zoos and wildlife exhibits in Northwestern Ontario," he said.
Around 30,000 people visit the zoo every year.
"It's one more thing people can do out there," Foulds said.
Friends of Chippewa Park president Lorraine Lortie-Krawczuk said the zoo has been a part of the park for a long time. She would rather see an expansion of the exhibit with more resources put toward it so that animals can be taken care of better.
Coun. Iain Angus agreed.
"We do need to invest in both the physical structure and enhance the staffing of the exhibit in order to improve the environment. There is no need to shut it down," he said.
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