Reptilia, a zoo company that wants to open a new zoo in London, Ontario, Canada, continues pressuring the local council despite its plans were already rejected in the past. Reptilia president Brian Child and the company’s lawyer Michael Lerner Representatives requested to speak at the London Council meeting on 29th November, despite in December 2018 the council voted down a move to amend the city’s bylaws (which ban private zoos displaying exotic species) to allow the company to bring a 25,000 square-foot zoo to Westmount Mall. 

The company currently operates two reptile zoos in the Greater Toronto Area, one in Vaughan and the other in Whitby. London’s animal control bylaw still bans zoos and displays of creatures including venomous snakes and crocodiles, so Reptilia’s initial plans to open in May 2022 did not materialise. However, despite the opposition from the city council, Reptilia obtained a building permit earlier this year that allowed it to start building some premises.

Coun. Elizabeth Peloza chairs the Community and Protective Services Committee (CPSC) that met to discuss this issue, and in the past, she voted and argued against changes that would allow the zoo to operate. She said to CBC news, “This has spanned many years and I’ve always been not in favour of it based on numerous concerns and those concerns still exist for me”.  Leo Longo, a lawyer representing McCor Management Inc., which manages Westmount Mall, spoke of the shopping centre’s support for Reptilia’s sought-after bylaw exemption, claiming that Reptilia is already exempt from the Animal Control By-law “as it operates under a provincial license.”

When a similar request was voted down last time, there was a substantial presence of animal rights activists in the council chambers arguing that businesses like Reptilia don’t keep their animals in humane conditions. At this meeting, eleven of the 15 speakers spoke out against the zoo’s request for a bylaw exemption. In the end, the council approved a motion requesting more information before they vote on a bylaw exemption. City staff must now produce a report about the bylaw exemption to explore the implications of such an exemption, as well as other options available for the council.

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“Originally from Catalonia, but resident in the UK for several decades, Jordi is a vegan zoologist and author, who has been involved in different aspects of animal protection for many years. In addition to scientific research, he has worked mostly as an undercover investigator, animal welfare consultant, and animal protection campaigner. He has been an ethical vegan since 2002, and in 2020 he secured the legal protection of all ethical vegans in Great Britain from discrimination in a landmark employment tribunal case that was discussed all over the world. He is also the author of the book, ‘Ethical Vegan: a personal and political journey to change the world’.