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Zebras seized by Sask. conservation officers now officially belong to Saskatoon zoo


Five zebras seized from a rural property near Candiac, Sask. are now the sole responsibility of the City of Saskatoon.

Saskatoon’s Forestry Farm zoo has been providing care to the animals since provincial conservation officers seized them from Nicholas Hazell in June 2023. Hazell was charged with several wildlife offences, including importing, possessing and holding the zebras captive without required licences.

The Saskatchewan government was reimbursing the Forestry Farm for the daily care and boarding of the animals, and in October, it committed $120,000 to build a winter habitat for them.

Now that Hazell’s charges have made their way through court, and the province’s reimbursement agreement has concluded, the government has “gifted” the animals to the forestry farm.

A city administration report before this Wednesday’s planning and development committee says ownership and title — and any future liability for the zebras — was officially transferred from the Crown to the City of Saskatoon as of March 31.

In a news release on Tuesday, the city’s zoo manager said he was excited by the news.

“Our team has done such an incredible job working with the zebras since they came into our care,” said Jeff Mitchell. “We are excited for the community to come out and learn more about these magnificent animals.”

Since the Forestry Farm zoo is the only accredited zoological facility in Saskatchewan, it was the only place in the province qualified to house the animals after they were seized from Hazell’s property, located east of Regina.

"We've helped them out in some instances, but nothing quite as charismatic as the zebras are,” Mitchell told the Canadian Press in October.

(Courtesy: City of Saskatoon)

Mitchell said the zebras moved into three caribou habitats that included a heated and insulated barn. They also have access to a pond.

Zebras normally live in areas of eastern and southern Africa. Their habitats include savannahs, grasslands, woodlands, shrub lands and mountainous areas.

This is the first time Saskatoon’s zoo has had care of zebras. Mitchell said his staff were able to call other zoos across Canada for advice on how to care for them.

The zebras are expected to start spending more time exploring their outdoor habitat as the weather continues to warm, the city says, so this week might be a good time to see them.

-With Canadian Press files from Jeremy Simes Top Stories

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