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Zebra seized from rural property now staying at Saskatoon zoo

The zebras were seized from an unidentified rural property on June 13 as part of an investigation under the provincial captive wildlife regulations.

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Five zebras that were seized last week as part of a provincial investigation are now making their home at the Saskatoon Forestry Farm Park and Zoo.

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The city announced in a media release on Thursday that the zebra herd arrived at the zoo last week and had moved into one of the three caribou habitats.

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Zoo manager Jeff Mitchell said in a prepared statement that officials with the Saskatchewan government contacted the zoo about the herd; the zoo is the only Canada’s Accredited Zoos and Aquariums facility in the province.

In an email, Ministry of Environment spokesperson Val Nicholson said conservation officers seized the zebras from a rural property on June 13 as part of an investigation under the province’s captive wildlife regulations.

“To protect the integrity of the ongoing investigation, we are unable to share any further information at this time,” Nicholson said in an email.

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When asked which rural municipality or region of the province the herd was seized from, Nicholson reiterated that no more information would be released.

In 2021, the province updated the rules around captive wildlife, modernizing the lists of allowable species that can be kept as pets without licence requirements and the lists of restricted species. The changes followed a rise in interest in the trade of illegal wildlife.

Zebras are not specifically listed on the province’s lists available online, however they belong to the taxonomic order Perissodactyla, which is listed.

The herd’s current accommodations at the zoo include a heated and insulated barn and a large outdoor yard with access to a pond.

Mitchell said in the statement that the zoo will keep a close watch on the zebra herd as it adapts to its new home and they’re expected to stay close to the barn for the next several weeks before eventually exploring their habitat.

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In a statement on Tuesday, the City of Saskatoon said it initially wasn’t sure when the zebras would be received into the zoo’s care because it’s a “foster situation,” but when they arrived last week a release had to be issued because it was possible the public would eventually spot the zebra herd.

“We can confirm that the zebras are adjusting well to their new surroundings,” the city said in the email, declining to comment further due to the province’s ongoing investigation.

Correction: This story has been corrected to include that zebras, though not specifically listed in the province’s list of restricted species, is part of the taxonomic order Perissodactyla, which is listed.

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