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Sunday, Dec 6, 2009
Case Images: 1 files available
Alleged: Gordon Blankstein
Case Updates: 1 update(s) available
Jerome the friendly giant will be in a fight for his life tomorrow at a controversial Fort Langley zoo.
The young male giraffe, which lives at the Mountainview Conservation Centre, has overgrown hoofs and may have to be euthanized if the job of shearing them doesn't work.
The veterinarian who'll decide, Dr. Bruce Burton, said he'll do everything he can to keep Jerome alive.
"He's probably one of the nicest giraffes you'll meet," Burton told The Province yesterday from his Abbotsford practice. "If we do not think we can help him, unfortunately, we are probably going to have to euthanize him."
Two giraffes died at the facility in December, and the facility is under SPCA investigation for animal cruelty and neglect.
Jerome, who stands five to six metres high and weighs over 2,000 pounds, will be put under anesthetic in a stall padded with hay.
Burton said it's vital his neck stay elevated, to avoid bursting blood vessels. "If [the neck] comes down, it can be fatal," he said. "They just don't tolerate anesthetics very well."
The SPCA ordered the procedure done this week because Jerome has difficulty walking and looks in pain.
"I have some serious concerns," said SPCA animal protection officer Eileen Drever. "The investigation is ongoing."
Mountainview spokesman Malcolm Weatherston insisted that giraffes haven't been neglected.
"It's just a very unfortunate series of coincidences," he said.
If Jerome dies, it would halve the Masai giraffe population to three, in as many months.
Todd Streu, who speaks for 30 current and former workers at Mountainview, blamed Jerome's plight on neglect. The zoo is not providing heat, diet or veterinary care, he said. Streu said Jerome's hoofs should have been shorn months ago.
Peter Fricker of the Vancouver Humane Society said the B.C. government is ignoring the issue -- "just washing its hands."
But B.C. Environment Minister Barry Penner said his ministry is keeping a close eye on the situation at Mountainview.
|The B.C. SPCA is preparing animal cruelty charges after Jerome the giraffe died during a hoof trimming procedure at a Fort Langley zoo on Friday afternoon.|
The young male giraffe had lived at the Mountain View Conservation Centre, which the SPCA has been investigating for animal cruelty and neglect, for several months. A number of current and former employees first told The Province in December that animals are dying and suffering at Mountain View because of lack of veterinary care.
Jerome had overgrown hoofs and the SPCA made an order for them to be trimmed back in November, but the zoo did not have the proper equipment in place for the procedure, SPCA animal protection officer Eileen Drever said.
Jerome died Friday afternoon while sedated for the hoof-trimming procedure, which Drever was present for. She called Jerome's death and suffering "preventable."
"I'm saddened but I'm really angry that this poor animal had to suffer," Drever said, choking back tears. "I'm preparing charges to send to Crown counsel based on the animal being neglected."
Driver said Criminal Code charges are likely, but the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act charges are also possible. A necropsy will be completed on Jerome, which will inform the level of charge considered, she said.
Driver said Mountain View's veterinarian for the procedure Friday, Dr. Bruce Burton, "did his best" to keep Jerome alive.
The SPCA is also trying to find out how two other Masai giraffes, an adult and a baby, died in a December cold snap, and is investigating other allegations of animal abuse and neglect made by former and current staff.
Todd Streu, who speaks for 30 current and former workers at Mountain View, said: "The staff is mortified because Jerome's death could have been avoided. They knew for months prior to the [SPCA] order that he needed veterinary care, but didn't get it."
Mountain View CEO and founder Gordon Blankstein was contacted for comment on Thursday and Friday but could not be reached. Blankstein has refuted all allegations made by his employees.
In a previous story Mountain View spokesman Malcolm Weatherston insisted the giraffes haven't been neglected.
Peter Fricker of the Vancouver Humane Society said Jerome's death "is tragic because it could have been prevented."
|Source: Chek News - February 4, 2010|
Update posted on Feb 6, 2010 - 11:39AM
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