POLITICS
02/13/2012 07:52 EST | Updated 04/14/2012 05:12 EDT

Retired animals from Stanley Park petting zoo may have been sent to slaughter

VANCOUVER - Dozens of animals that delighted children at a now-closed petting zoo operated by the City of Vancouver may have ended up on someone's dinner table.

Vancouver Park Board chairwoman Constance Barnes said the city's lawyer has been told to take aggressive action against a Fraser Valley farmer if it's proven he sold some of the animals for meat.

She said the farmer signed an adoption agreement with the park board in which he agreed to treat the animals humanely, not to slaughter them.

"As frightening as that is, it is the reality, and that's why I think we need to be diligent as we can going forward and making sure that this person is absolutely held accountable, because this was not part of the agreement," she told a Vancouver radio station.

The agreement required the farmer to allow the goats and sheep from the Stanley Park petting zoo to live out their natural lives, but Barnes said there is concern that most of the 17 goats and four sheep sent to the Langley farm have been sold to a slaughterhouse.

Barnes vowed to "see this one through to the end" if it is proved the operator of the hobby farm broke the terms of the adoption agreement, which required park board or SPCA approval for almost all changes in the living conditions of the animals.

The SPCA's Marcie Moriarty says it's upsetting the farm may have broke its contract with the park.

"I mean the reality is farm animals are sent to auction everyday and nobody bats an eye but these individuals promised, and it is unfortunate if some of the goats were sent to auction that that happened," she said.

Moriarty says the park board has contracted the SPCA to inspect other properties where other animals were adopted.

Goats, sheep, cows, pigs, donkeys and a pony are among the animals adopted by hobby farms and private owners around Greater Vancouver when the children's zoo in Stanley Park closed last year.