Jump to content

Reindeer Euthanized at Metro Toronto Zoo

Recommended Posts


Hi All I have posted the attached message on the Reindeer Owner and Breeders Association Forum and am sending it out to all the Santa Boards that I follow as well. I was pretty disgusted by the reasoning for this action and thought that we should get the word out. I have intentionally not gone into detail. If you can't find the story (there are now two) drop me a PM and I will send it to you. Thanks! :spinthanks:

I won't post a link here as the story link apparently changes every 24 hours but yesterday morning, Sunday 04 May, I recieved a call from a friend suggesting that I pick up a copy of the Sunday Sun (Toronto). THe front page headline reads, "Rudolf must Die!"

Apparently some bright light at the Metro Zoo ordered the euthanization of two, day old Reindeer bull calves simply because they were born male. WHile the keepers refused to assist the Vet with the deed, the Vet not being too happy about the wilful deaths of these calves, went ahead and did it anyway. (I always thought that Vets have an ethical responsibility to do no harm.)

I leave it to anyone interested in the story to search it and form your own opinions but I would be interested in anyones thoughts on the subject. Today's paper, included a telephone interview with me having called in to the paper. both stories are online under the canoe.ca site go to papers, Toronto Sun.

The Metro Toronto Zoo is an accredited facility under CAZA (Canadina Association of Zoos and Aquariums) which is being touted in Ontario as the gold standard for the drive to change regulations relating to Roadside Zoos and private holdings of Odd and unusual animals. While my farm is not CAZA accredited nor is it open to the public and have never applied for this recognition, I think it strange that we hold the animals lives and welfare in higher regard than do they. Does anyone know if the Reindeer herd at MTZ is registered on the ROBA registry of animals? Just curious about that!

Anyway, read the article and let me know what you think. I am expecting a response challenging my position by the zoo and any ammunition would be appreciated. You can either post to this board or contact me privately at fuzzyfootfarm@hotmail.com

Thanks much

Tony & Janice Porter

Fuzzy Foot Farm

Shelburne, Ontario

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites
Santa JerryO

Dear Tony, I am appalled at the story that I just read. I can not believe that they can play almighty and pick and choose as they please. I do not know anything about Reindeer accept they seem to be very beautiful animals. I have seen them up close and although I am sure they can be a handful to handle, I don't think that the zoo should pick and choose who lives or dies even if they are animals.

To launch a drive against ill run roadside zoo's and parks because of inhumane handling and care of animals is one thing but this puts the zoo on an even platform with them because they hide behind the cloak of trying to breed a quality herd for the future as an excuse to play executioner because they didn't like the gender that was born. I thought only God made that choice. I wish you well and while not rich I will do what I can to help even if it is to just write them and let them know. I will also keep the reindeer in my prayers and hope that the good Lord intercedes with wisdom on all parts.

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites
Carlo Klemm

Don't know if this was one of them but this is pix of Zoo on May 2nd,

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Ok all

I have managed to capture the full text of both articles off the Toronto Sun website and am attaching them to this post for your information. I just wrote a response to the Letters to the Editor online. It only took 10 comments on that forum for someone to say how much better it was for them to kill these animals rather than have them sold to a "Roadside Zoo". While that issue is a valid concern not only in Ontario but throughout North America, it paints every animal owner with the same broad brush. I personally have never euthanized any animal for convienience and have caused myself some difficulties in refusing to euthanize an animal that I believed to be worth the time and effort to rehabilitate. Just remember that if we let them away with this, it is just a matter of time before they start lining up those of us who are no longer of value to society and dispose of us too. For those of you who are "Old Soldiers" you probably know exactly what I mean. Anyway, here it is!

May 4, 2008

<H2 style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 0pt">Toronto Zoo brass say ... Rudolph must die!</H2><H3 style=MARGIN: 0in 0in 0pt">Wait until Santa finds out. Toronto Zoo starts killing male baby reindeer to manage the herd. Staff are heartbroken -- and furious</H3>By MIKE STROBEL

A reindeer is seen resting in a field with its fawn at the Toronto Zoo. For the first time in the zoo's history, newborn calves were "euthanized due to being male" for herd management reasons, officials said. (Michael Peake, Sun Media)

Dear Santa: I hope you are sitting down.

The Toronto Zoo is killing baby boy reindeer.

Now Dasher! Now Dancer! Now Prancer...

The first was dispatched shortly after his birth April 8.

His mom, Hayzel, bellowed mournfully for two days. You could hear her from Meadowvale Rd.

The second met the same fate at the point of a hypodermic on April 22.


His mom, CUPE, is named for the zoo staff's union.

Both little gaffers were chocolate brown and gangly cute. They had barely begun to nurse.

Both were perfectly healthy.

"Euthanized due to being male," says the keepers' report, terse and angry.

The keepers were so upset they left as the vets moved into the reindeer enclosure and refused to take part.

"This is wrong," the keepers told the vets, who were none too happy either.

Three female babies have been spared.


Tinsel and Rhonda delivered theirs the same day as CUPE.

Lucky for them, they had girls, now prancing about the paddock in the full flush of spring.

Girl European reindeer are less hassle. Easier to sell or trade to other zoos. I'm told they're even better at hauling a sleigh.

Two years ago, zoo execs gave approval in principle to the euthanizing of male reindeer.

This spring is the first time it's been executed, so to speak.

Remarkable, eh? I wonder if anyone considered how this looks.

Call it herd management, or whatever.

They're snuffing Rudolph.

They never let poor Rudolph

join in any reindeer games

Never before has the zoo imposed a euthanasia order on a breed of large animal.

The only precedent I can find, about five years back, is the mara, a sort of jumping guinea pig from South America.

The zoo euthanized male maras to cap the population. Later, it sold off the whole lot.

Many staff wonder: Why kill the boy reindeer? Why not just neuter them?

True, this can cause atrophied antlers. Big deal. The kiddies who visit will still ooh and ahhh and hum Jingle Bells.

Or, staff wonder, if you're going to exterminate every male, why breed the eight females in the first place?

Seems rather cruel. Reindeer roulette. Female, you live. Male, you die.

Says one staffer: "This bothers me more than anything I've ever experienced here.

"Many of us feel these are not our animals and not management's animals, but belong to the city, to the people of Toronto.

"And they should know what's happening."

Says another: "I'm sick to my stomach. This is the beginning of a road we don't want to go down."

Funny, I thought zoos love baby animals.

There's always a fuss when a cute little snow leopard or polar bear comes into the world, out in the wilds of northeast Scarborough.

Two days before Hayzel's son was put to death with sodium pentobarbital, a press release announced the arrival of a baby gaur.

Congratulations to Flower and Hercules. Gaurs are huge, wild Asian cattle.

The baby? A bouncing boy. Doing fine.

Need I add, a week from now is Mother's Day at the zoo. Given what's transpired, I hope they have the sense not to showcase the reindeer moms. Two of them aren't celebrating.

Maria Franke, curator of mammals, tells me the decision to euthanize male reindeer calves was made by something called the Animal Care, Research and Acquisition Committee.

"It was a gruelling process," she assures me. "We do not take this lightly. There is science behind it."

It's especially hard to sell reindeer because of disease fears. There's no room.

Too expensive to release in the wild. If they keep the males they'll be lonely. They yearn for their own harem. We can't even sell the two bucks we have now. No one likes this. It's a necessary evil. Blah, blah, blah.


So why breed the herd, knowing half the babies are doomed?

"If we did not, we would end up with no reindeer," says Franke.

"We aren't just an entertainment facility. We're a conservation facility and our goal is to manage genetically viable populations of animals.

"I know some keepers are upset. I know it's a sensitive subject."

No kidding. Just wait'll word gets back to the North Pole.

And it's not over.

One more calf is due any day now.

We're all hoping for a girl

Mon, May 5, 2008

<H5 style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 0pt">'I'd have taken them'</H5><H3 style=MARGIN: 0in 0in 0pt">Male reindeer welcome on 2 Ontario farms</H3>


Phyllis Mathison and Tony Porter are offering a home on their ranges if the Toronto Zoo's pregnant reindeer delivers a doomed male calf.

Upset by the euthanization of two healthy baby bulls -- as revealed in yesterday's Sun -- the rural Ontarians wonder why officials didn't offer them to another zoo, seek foster human parents or sell them.

While zoo staff and veterinarians assigned to the culling were angry, officials insisted male reindeer are hard to sell and have health issues.


Not so, insisted Porter, who has a dozen reindeer, a camel, a zebra, a kangaroo and other critters on the farm he and his wife own near Shelburne.

"There are some impediments selling bulls, but it's not disease," he said, adding zoo bosses are wrong when they say keeping a castrated male affects antler growth.

Porter, who uses his reindeer while playing Santa in Christmas parades, said yesterday that by killing males, the zoo risks having no animals for breeding.

"They're not an easy animal to raise ... calves have fairly high mortality rates."

Reindeer have been domesticated for centuries and "the option of releasing them in the wild would only doom them," he said.

"I could have placed those two babies immediately," said Porter, who's been in touch with private reindeer owners across Canada and the U.S. "I don't need any more bulls, but I'd have taken them in."

Mathison, a farmer's daughter who has horses and rabbits and used to have cattle on her farm at Kirkfield, near Lindsay, said: "I know how to look after baby animals."

If another male reindeer is born at the Toronto Zoo, "I'm willing to take them in my home to look after, even if it means getting up very two hours for feeding. I'd have to talk to my vet first, of course," Mathison, 42, said.

"It's better than having them put down," she said.

Zoo board member Mike Del Grande, a city councillor, said he doesn't get involved in daily decisions but will ask why officials decided to destroy unwanted male calves and did not issue statements addressing public concerns.

"Were other options explored?" he said.

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest clauswithacause

This is just a part of the cuture of death that engulfs our world...God please open all our eyes! People, infants, deer are all God's creatures. These people are deluded and can't see the evil they are entwined in...

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

It is so sad that some people think if you don't want it or can't use it you should kill it.

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

More in the paper today, will post when I get a chance. Apparently the remaining reindeer due to calf did so on Sunday. Another Boy. They haven't taken any action yet but since they seem to be rallying behind their decision, I guess it will soon be dead too. We will see.

Thanks for the input so far,

With a heavy heart, Respectfully submitted.

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for the support. I have never been too interested in burning up the chat rooms but I have been getting into a lot of places that I have never been to as a result of this. I am just signing off to return a local papers request for information and I will be drawing up a detailed statement as the day goes on. I would appreciate the support by way of signatures once I figure out how to get that done and forwarded. Meanwhile, I encourage everyone to write the Toronto Sun, National Post (both are covering this now) and the Metro Toronto Zoo directly to make your positions known. While the Cheif Vet is quoted as saying that they can't give them away to private farms that haven't got the right permits, it is important to note that Reindeer are a Domesticated animal recognized as such by the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs as a farm animal (alternative livestock) and do not require special permits to keep. You do however require a Transport Authorization Permit from the Canadian Food INspection Agency (CFIA). If you have up to date TB tests and Health of ANimals tags on the animals, a phone call results in a permit. Sounds real tough, maybe we should just kill them afterall!!!

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

:angry: I cannot believe that a zoo would do this, without researching alternatives first and letting the mothers take care of the babies unti they are weaned and then give them to homes, farms, other zoos, who would be willing to take care of them!

Animals are not throw-aways...if they are so concerned about male offspring then why don't they fix them so reproduction is not possible!!

Such a waste of life...a tragedy! :verymad:

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites
Kriss Kringle

This is very troubling and just makes me ill. What is wrong with people anymore?

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites
John Johnson

I am physically ill by this. How can a zoo do that to any animal. I will be sending them a letter about this. These poor little ones didn't deserve this.

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest clauswithacause


Add my name to any list, I want to add my name to protest this inhumane and truely unethical treatment.


Claus with a Cause

Edited by clauswithacause

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites
Santa Bill

I just read this story I can not belive they would do this. I just sent them an email. I don't know if they will even read it But I had to say something to them. You can put my name on any list against this .

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

You can also add my name to the list I'll do what ever I can write letters, make phone calls or get on a plane what ever it takes. I'm against any animal cruelty however most of the endangered animals and just pets have there own group of people work for them. [ Save the whales - and so on] As Santa's we should adopt a policy to protect the Reindeer after all we can't make our rounds on Christmas Eve without them.

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites
John Johnson

Add my name too.

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites
Santa Jim of RI

This zoo should loose their credit rating for this action. The public should insist that the zoo stop their breeding and that the zoo officials should be put on the mat for not doing their research before allowing the breeding.

If they are looking to sell off thir animals they should look at the genes of the male. If his track record has him producing more males than females then he should be castrated and removed from the zoo.

If you don't know the correct way to breed animals they need to trade the anuimals off to another zoo and close their doors.

I find their actions to be very irresponsible. I have worked at a zoo in my younger years and these actions are not acceptible.

Santa Jim of RI :mad:

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Letters to the Editor

The Orangeville Banner

Orangeville, Ontario

07 May 2008

Last Christmas, the Banner ran an article by Eric Sparling about the Reindeer at our farm in Melancthon Township. It has always been our great pleasure to keep these animals and bring them into the community at a variety of events, we have never considered killing off the extraneous males for convenience or "herd management". Apparently the highly regarded Metro Toronto Zoo is not of the same mind.

This past Sunday, 04 May 2008, a feature story appeared in major Toronto media about the zoo terminating the lives of two of its day old baby reindeer, essentially due to gender. While the overall explanation is a bit more involved, it still boils down to a poor management decision. Also on Sunday, the final reindeer cow due to calve, delivered another male who has seen a reprieve only due to public opinion. Dubbed "baby Rudolph" this infant and two other 4 year olds deemed surplus would be sent to the Bowmanville Zoo. The zoo claims that the two 4 year olds had been on a surplus list for 3 years with no takers and that they can't give them away to private farms due to permit requirements. They also indicated that the males are more prone to disease.

Male reindeer will fight amongst themselves when in rut if both animals are allowed to continue as fully function bulls. Castration or chemical castration suppresses this aggressiveness and they drop in the pecking order of the herd to a status of lower dominance. Males can be housed with other males with no more difficulties than is had with the females at a variety of times. (Just like people) For the majority of the year, they can all run together.

Reindeer are a domesticated animal and are one of the first used by man. Listed in the lesser nine of the 15 domestic species, Reindeer are not wild animals and therefore cannot be released to the wild as one zoo official claimed would be a cost prohibitive option. They are at risk of death if exposed to sheep and goats due to toxic bacteria contained in the feces of these animals. While it is possible to keep them on the same property, it is not advisable. Reindeer mortality when exposed to this is virtually 100%.

After the story broke Sunday morning, we received a call from friends suggesting that we pick up the paper. After reading the story, I contacted the paper to provide them with some information including expert sources to contact and stated that I would have taken them in or that I could have found suitable homes for all of them within 24 hours. While the Metro Toronto Zoo is a CAZA (Canadian Association of Zoos and Aquariums) accredited facility, I find it hard to believe that the regulations to maintain their accreditation would cause the unnecessary and wanton destruction of the exhibit animals for convenience to be preferable to releasing them to individuals or breeders who do not happen to be zoos. As a domestic animal, recognized as such by OMAFRA, they only require transport permits to move them. These are issued free of charge through the local office and require a destination, shipper, receiver, Health of Animals Ear tag # and purpose of the move. It isn't a difficult process. Tuberculosis testing must be conducted every 5 years and monitoring for CWD (chronic wasting disease) is optional at this point.

While there is a happy ending in that the remaining animals will be placed elsewhere rather than being euthanized, the decision came out of an emergency meeting of the zoos Animal Care, Research and Acquisition committee that also upheld the euthanasia policy.

For further information on Reindeer or links to more sources of information go to the Reindeer Owners and Breeders Association (ROBA) website at www.reindeer.ws

<H1 style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 0pt"> </H1><H1 style=MARGIN: 0in 0in 0pt"> </H1><H1 style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 0pt"> </H1><H1 style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 0pt"> </H1><H1 style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 0pt"> </H1><H1 style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 0pt">CASES FOR THE PRESERVATION OF LIFE</H1>

MEET "DUCKIE" with Abilene (Abby) in the foreground. Duckie was destined for euthanasia, as she was the old girl in the herd that was coming home to Ontario. The decision to euthanize was not due to convenience but out of a desire for her not to be alone. When we found out this was the plan we asked if she was healthy enough to travel and if so to send her to us to live out her days. She made the trip from GroundBirch, BC to our home farm without incident. That is now more than a year ago. Duckie is blind in one eye but is one of the biggest, healthiest girls in the herd. She does get pushed around at times but she also instigates at times. She is at least 14 years old and possibly 16 and according to her former owner, she is the oldest live reindeer she is aware of. She has a quiet life her and we ask little of her beyond an occasional pet. We have been able to enjoy her as have people passing by our farm. It is also immensely pleasurable on those occasions when I am in touch with the former owners, to be able to answer the question about her passing with a simply, Nope, she's fine, here are some current pictures. The last time, I had to tell her which one was Duckie!

Meet "Valentino" or

Val for short. Pictured here scratching his ear with "Katie" in the foreground last years bull calf "Austin" and "Holly" behind "Val". Val was declared surplus at a Manitoba, CAZA accredited Zoo. He came along with a complete set of health papers and his full history. He is now our herd sire for this season after the loss of our senior bull last Christmas due to a broken ankle.

When our senior bull broke his ankle last fall we were forced to put him down due to the type of break being irreparable. Since he broke it right at breeding time, we could find ourselves without calves this year as he may not have completed service to the girls. This alone is a case for not disposing of the bulls, you never know when you might need to change the bloodline or suffer an unrecoverable loss. In the case of a Zoo with a breeding plan and recovery of species process, destruction of the males in these circumstances can result in a complete depletion of a species.

Anthony & Janice Porter

Fuzzy Foot Farm &

The Regional Municipality of the North Pole

Reindeer Preflight Training Centre

Shelburne, Ontario

519 925 0932

Hi All

This is what I sent to my local paper today on the subject. They did call for an interview but since I was not going to be taking in the bulls, they suggested that I go this route instead. They paper ran a story on Boxing Day last year about our farm and its unique inhabitants. As for the thoughts about Santas taking a stand for Reindeer, that warrants more thought. SETOR (Santas for the Ethical Treatment of Reindeer) hmmmm.........

Thanks all for your thoughts and comments. To those who have written the zoo, great and to those of you that are thinking about it, please do. Every voice counts here!

(there were pictures with this but I couldn't get them to load, sorry!)

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites
Santa Bill

That was a nice letter. I am glad they are not going to kill the other calf.

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites
This topic is now closed to further replies.

  • Donations

    All donations go directly towards the cost of hosting and running ClausNet!

    Your support, through donations or simply by clicking on sponsor links, is greatly appreciated!

    Donate Sidebar by DevFuse
  • Our picks

    • If You Have the Post Christmas Blues You’re Doing Christmas Wrong
      The post-Christmas blues are a very real thing. Once the date of December 25th has passed the specter of December 26th is an ominous marker to many. It sits there on the calendar like the Ghost of Christmas Yet-to-Come. Silent and foreboding, the very image of the hooded Angel of Death it seems to be. And why not?

      Just about anywhere you look Americans are tossing trees to the curb, ripping down lights from rooftops and radio stations are flipping back to everyday music. What took months to build gets deconstructed in a matter of a couple of days.
        • Like
      • 25 replies
    • Auld Lang Syne
      Every New Year’s Eve at the stroke of midnight, millions around the world traditionally gather together to sing the same song, “Auld Lang Syne”. As revilers mumble though the song’s versus, it often brings many of them to tears – regardless of the fact that most don’t know or even understand the lyrics. Confusion over the song’s lyrics is almost as much of a tradition as the song itself. Of course that rarely stops anyone from joining in.
        • Wow
        • Like
      • 2 replies
    • Merry Christmas, My Friend
      Every year around this time, some variation of this poem is circulated online. The poem is generally credited to “a soldier stationed in Okinawa” or more recently since September 11, 2001, “a Marine stationed in Afghanistan”.

      However, the poem’s true author is Lance Corporal James M. Schmidt.

      Originally entitled, “Merry Christmas, My Friend”, Corporal Schmidt wrote the poem in 1986 while serving as Battalion Counter Sniper at the Marine Barracks 8th & I, in Washington, D.C.

      That day the poem was placed in the Marine Corps Gazette and distributed worldwide. Schmidt’s poem was later published in Leatherneck (Magazine of the Marines) in December 1991.
        • Sad
        • Love
        • Like
      • 1 reply
    • Is it time to start calling out Bad Santas?
      Is it time to start calling out Bad Santas?

      Do you think we should start calling out those in our community whose actions or behavior is unbecoming of Santa Claus or Mrs. Claus?
        • Wow
        • Like
      • 94 replies
    • Backlash Building Against The Man Who Invented Christmas
      Backlash Building Against The Man Who Invented Christmas

      September 7, 2017


      There is a new Christmas movie headed to theaters this Christmas about Charles Dickens about his creation of A Christmas Carol and Christmas purists hate it. Already.

      The film has a stellar cast that features the dreamy-eyed Dan Stevens as Dickens and the legendary Christopher Plummer as Scrooge. Here is the trailer:

      “This is a very presumptuous film,” said Christmas fan and would-be film critic, Arnold Yates, via MSN. “Charles Dickens was great but he certainly didn’t invent Christmas. Bah Humbug!”

      That sentiment is growing online as the preview makes the rounds.
        • Confused
        • Like
      • 14 replies
    • Seeking recognition
      Seeking recognition is a downward path for a legend who performs his tasks in the veil of night.

      Recently, a fellow portrayer of Santa posted an image on Facebook that they constructed to look like a magazine cover with him on it and several story snips like many publications have on their covers.  You may have seen it if they are your friend on Facebook.  It looks okay.  The composition is good, but the rendering when uploading it to Facebook became distorted it and it is quite pixelated when you look at it from a development standpoint.
        • Love
        • Like
      • 13 replies
    • Not Everyone Can Be Santa!
      Yes, I said it and it is not meant to hurt anyone’s feelings. I do view many Facebook sites along with websites and posted photos. Frankly, many of these postings should have never been put on public display.
        • Thanks
        • Love
        • Like
      • 1 reply
    • Are you the 'real' Santa?
      How do you answer this question?

      "Are you the 'real' Santa?"

      Read all the replies...
      • 91 replies
    • Infringement? Make up your own mind.
      In the last couple of days, on several different social media and bidding sites, an item has been offered for sale that in my opinion is cause for suspicion.  I would like to bring that product to your attention.

      There is some disagreement over whether or not it is an infringement or not.  I believe it is close enough to be considered as an infringement, but that is not the only the reason behind my post.
        • Like
      • 32 replies
    • Why Bass Pro Shops’ longtime Santa won’t be back this Christmas
      Why Bass Pro Shops’ longtime Santa won’t be back this Christmas

      Christmas is going to be a little different this year for families whose traditions include visiting Santa at Bass Pro Shops. Paul Davis, who spent the last nine years as the Bass Pro Santa in Ashland, will not be there anymore.
        • Sad
        • Like
      • 98 replies
About | Forums | Blogs | Newsletter | Contact

© 2019 MJR Group. LLC. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use | Privacy Policy | Copyright IP Policy

Proud affiliate of My Merry Christmas!

Subscribe to the ClausNet Gazette

Enter your email address to subscribe to our monthly newsletter.

About ClausNet

The ClausNet community is the largest social network and online resource for Santa Claus, Mrs. Claus, Elves, Reindeer Handlers, and Santa helpers for the purposes of sharing stories, advice, news, and information.
  • Create New...