Rabbit Advocacy Animal Matters


Comment: Unfortunately, the Pacific National Exhibition and fairs like this are held in cities and towns all across the country.  The exploitation of animals as entertainment is rampant.  There are many animal advocates who speak out on behalf of those who have no voice and the following is one sample of such an effort.     

Open Letter: August 15, 2007

To: PNE Board of Directors, Vancouver Mayor and Council, Vancouver Parks Board Commissioners, Safeway Farm Country Sponsor
From: Peter Hamilton, Lifeforce Founding Director
Re: Cancel the Cruel Con Game

The Pacific National Exhibition (PNE) continues to promote performing animal acts such as Richard's Racing Pigs. People are being conned and animals are suffering. People are deceived into thinking that the animals are having fun competing with each other. The animals are cruelly confined for approximately 23 hours each day, pigs have no free access to food, ducks have no free access to food/water and both are deprived of their basic behavioural needs.

All animals are kept in the transport trailer - some pigs can barely turn around in pens approx. 18" x 48", the pigs do not have food (only water taps - don't know if they are left on), numerous ducks are in an approx. 18" x 60" enclosure, the ducks have no food or water, the ducks can't flap their wings and on hot days its like a sweatbox for all the animals. They are only let out for a quick snack when they "perform" (four times a day at approx. 10-15 minutes per show). They do not race or do tricks because they want to - they're forced to do it because they are food/behaviourally deprived. Ducks need free access to a swimming pool for cooling/play and water to clean themselves/eat (so they don't choke). Pigs need to root and run freely.

The Past
In 1986, Lifeforce and the SPCA complained to the PNE and both the pig races and animals in vending machines were cancelled for several years. In view of Hastings Park not being returned to parkland and the PNE reinstating this performing animal act Lifeforce is calling for the permanent cancellation of this cruel, con game that deceives people and harm animals.

The Present
Lifeforce investigated the operation of Richard's Racing Pigs (and ducks) at the Abbotsford Agrifair and Rodeo on August 3rd and 6th. Our video exposing the above abuses can be obtained from Lifeforce. Failure to provide proper food, water, shelter and social/behavioural needs is subject to the Criminal Code of Canada - Section 401 Cruelty to Animals.

We also discovered that the future plans of this business includes a performing "duck band". This would be similar to the previous animals in vending machines ("IQ Zoo") that ended in 1986. The animals were forced to mimic musicians and playing games in order to get food.

From creating Animal Rights Day in 1983 to banning animal performances in circuses to the PNE stopping other animal "acts" ("Oscar the Mouse", photos with baby chimps, live animal prizes etc.) to banning rodeos to stopping the exploitation of animals in a Vancouver Art Gallery exhibit - Vancouver has been a leader in developing respect for all animals.

Lifeforce is urging the PNE, the City of Vancouver and sponsors to act responsibly and humanely. The cruel con game should stop immediately. Lifeforce looks forward to your responses.

(contact info)

August 18, 2007 

To: PNE President and BoD
Mayor Sam Sullivan & Council
& Safeway Farm Country Sponsor

Subject: Animal Exploitation as Entertainment

While the advertising would have us believe that the PNE keeps getting better and offers an assortment of entertainment for the whole family I would like to point out that the exploitation of animals is in no way entertaining.  I’m referring to the Safeway Farm Country exhibits which include Richard’s Racers (pigs) and ducks doing tricks.  Certainly this type of  ‘amusement’ is a thing of the past. 

Animal welfare and advocacy groups, as well as the public, have become increasingly sensitive to the way in which our animals are treated and now boycott petting zoos and fairs.  Who wants to see livestock denied the freedom to move about, chickens cooped up all day or, rabbits stuck in tiny cages?  Such enclosures are completely inadequate to meet instinctive needs, and combined with all the activity and new surroundings it is extremely stressful to all these animals.  

And the 4-H Club, teaching impressionable young kids, who are still forming opinions about treatment of animals, that it’s okay to betray your friend for slaughter at auction time, and profit from it as well.  Kids grow attached to their goat or cow, and from their experience know full well that these are sentient beings. 

The PNE isn’t fun for the animals and as Mr. Hamilton of Lifeforce points out, what goes on behind the scenes and away from the public is far from humane.  

I look forward to hearing from you regarding this matter. 


Carmina Gooch, Director Pets In Need Society; Pacific Animal Foundation; Rabbit Advocacy Group of BC www.rabbitadvocacy.com
North Vancouver

August 31, 2007
From: Peter Hamilton

UPDATE  Stop the Cruel Con: Richard’s Racers

The Lifeforce investigation of Richard’s Racers (pig and duck “races”) exposed numerous animal rights violations at the Abbotsford Agrifair and Rodeo from August 2 – 8. Lifeforce sent a letter to the Pacific National Exhibition (PNE), city officials and Safeway (a sponsor) in which we outlined our concerns and urged them to cancel this performing animal act.

The business was hired for the fair that runs August 18 to Sept 3. Some changes were made as compared to what we documented at the Agrifair. Acting upon Lifeforce call to the Vancouver SPCA an inspector went to the PNE and later advised us:

The pigs and ducks are now let out of the transport trailer before and after the four daily shows.
The pigs and ducks are not kept in the transport trailer overnight at the PNE. The pigs and ducks are only fed at show times and they are given food at the end of the day. Now that the animals are not confined to the trailer the ducks had water and pigs had at a nipple inside the trailer.

Although the SPCA said that the pigs were fed according to agriculture standards, pet pigs are given freer access to food and water. Also, ducks should have free access to food and water. The SPCA did not determine if the two pigs that do “tricks” – one pig per show - are fed two or four times during the day.

These animals are forced to performed stupid acts for human entertainment. And many people are conned into thinking that the animals are doing it for enjoyment – not for the food. They are “conditioned” by food deprivation at the PNE. They were “conditioned” by food, water and behavioural deprivation at the Agrifair.

The Vancouver SPCA inspector said they maybe not agree with it but it is not illegal and the only way to stop it is to stop people going to see it. Well, Lifeforce will continue to educate people about what goes on behind the scenes and what people are actually seeing – hungry and deprived animals. One day we will make it illegal. One day animals will not be forced to perform on cue and exploited for the entertainment bucks.

September 3/07

Hi All:

During the BCCTV last show at the Pacific National Exhibit they did their annual stunt with their weather person "racing" with the Richard's Racers pigs. But the pigs did not race. They stayed at the starting gate. All TV folks appeared quite surprised. One News Anchor jokingly accused the weather person of dropping feed. Well, the pigs were eating what may have been extra food.

As Lifeforce said in our "Stop the Cruel Con" campaign to stop this exploitation the pigs and ducks run because they get food at the end of the race. Not so this time - they got the food at the beginning and chose to not run.

Peter Hamilton www.lifeforcefoundation.org 

Comment: CTV has broadcast live from the PNE again in 2008.  My letter, asking that they stop condoning this "entertainment."

The PNE finally winds up Labour Day. Safeway Farm Country was back again where kids could "play" with the petting zoo animals, try their hand at milking a cow, and "maybe even watch one being born."  They were also invited to check out one of the "entertaining" demonstrations where they could see where their food comes from.  And who'd want to miss out on getting some "top grade meat" at the 4-H Auction?  The very same cows, pigs, or lambs that kids raised and befriended, now betrayed, and sold to the highest bidder.  Richard's Racers, a crowd pleaser, had CTV's Rena Heer racing four of the pigs on closing day. She placed second, ahead of Sir Hamelot.  

I can hardly wait for next year. 

Carmina Gooch

E. coli infects 13 who visited PNE petting zoo

September 16th, 2009

Vancouver (News 1130) - Several PNE-goers have had a rough ride following their visit to the petting zoo. It's the first time in its 99-year history that the fair has ever been linked to cases of E. coli.

Eleven children and two adults came down with the bacterial infection three days after the fair closed for the summer.  It was so bad that three people required hospital care, with one child remaining there. 

While E. coli is more commonly transmitted in uncooked meat, the pathogens can also be transmitted through contact with fecal matter picked up by petting animals or touching hand rails or fences. There are significant precautions taken by the PNE to prevent the spread of infection - including signs promoting hand washing and many sanitizers.

September 25, 2009 Five more cases of E.coli have been confirmed by Vancouver Coastal Health in connection with the PNE's petting zoo, bringing the total to 18.

May 1, 2018 update: Three children who allegedly contracted E. coli from a petting zoo at Vancouver's PNE will have to wait at least another year-and-a-half to have their day in court on the grounds that the full extent of one child's complications from her illness may not be known until 2020.

The PNE, Vancouver Coastal Health,and the District of North Vancouver (the location of the farm) have responded with allegations of negligence on the part of the children, their parents or guardians. Those include allegations of improper handwashing and failing to supervise the children. This should be an interesting case to follow.

Food Safety News: Another Preventable Petting Zoo E. coli Outbreak

August 25, 2010  Thanks to all those who put themselves at risk to expose the brutalities of the animal exploitation industry. Behind the public façade are the horrors and abuses that animals of all kinds are forced to endure. And why? Because there’s money to be made - all at the expense of those with no voice. We must unite and fight on their behalf - take action - whatever that may be.

CTV broadcasts live from the PNE and on August 24th we were shocked to hear Pamela Martin reporting a story on a young boy with a pig named Miss Oink. He belongs to the 4-H, and when questioned on whether he felt sad knowing his 4-month old companion he had raised would be going to slaughter, he said “ a little bit, but you get used to it.” What a shocking and upsetting commentary. Betrayal and selling out an innocent animal, all for a few dollars. Seems like life has no value, (or at least it’s subjective) and we wonder why society is becoming more violent? Nothing will ever get better unless this pervasive attitude changes. Shame on CTV and all the sponsors who reinforce archaic stereotypes regarding animals as expendable commodities for human use.  On this year’s 100th anniversary, how far have we come?  

August 23, 2011 Yet again we see a 4-H member crying and undoubtedly wracked with guilt over what she’s about to do. This year, as reported by CBC, a young girl from the Comox Valley Club was in tears as she led the steer she raised over the last year into the auction ring at the PNE. She knows this is the last time she’ll see her beloved animal. She knows it’s going for slaughter and that she’s betrayed a trust and a bond. Yet adults insist on desensitizing our young people by teaching them that an animal’s value lies in the bottom line. Exploitation for financial gain. To the purchasers, the sponsors, the corporations, the media, - all of us - take a second to think about what is being taught here. It certainly doesn’t make one optimistic for a better and compassionate world.  

4-H member recounts experience and impact on her life

4-H members thoughtlessly breeding rabbits; BC 4-H sponsorships PNE

June 14, 2012 Gaming grants support B.C. agricultural fairs

August 30, 2014 B.C. 4-H program celebrates centennial with new funding

June 26, 2015 More than 240 rabbits die from heat after fair auction

August 25, 2015 Tearful ending for PNE's 4-H kids after year of loving care for animals

August 26, 2015 comment: We contacted The Province reporters who covered the PNE’s 4-H Auction advising them as to the early and deep indoctrination of 4-H children who are repeatedly exposed to a message of violence, betrayal, and disrespect to sentient beings, portraying non-human animals as expendable commodities to be exchanged for money. Animal agriculture is an immoral and dirty business; that of a bygone era. The media should not be a conduit for such a message. Even kids know better; thus the tears.  

Thankfully, Direct Action Everywhere brought attention to this unsavory event by staging a disruption.

May 15, 2018 The Rabbit Advocacy Group of BC contacted the City of Vancouver and the PNE due to concerns over the outbreak and transmission of the aggressive and deadly virus, Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease (RHD). We received a prompt reply, informing us that the position of the PNE is NO rabbits. The fair runs from August 18 – Sept. 3rd. 

The Interior Provincial Exhibition’s annual fair in Armstrong is also disallowing rabbits. 

May 30, 2018 update: We received additional information from the agriculture manager at the PNE advising that it “will be following the recommendations for limiting the movement of rabbits in the Fraser Valley and as such, not be contracting any rabbit display animals for 2018.” (there had been reported outbreaks of the virus in a few Langley rabbitries)  

With regards to the 4-H rabbit shows, it will take direction from the Chief Veterinarian Officer for BC, BC 4-H and the SPCA to assess the risks as the time gets closer. Should RHD still pose a threat by Aug. 1st, the shows will be cancelled.

August 7, 2018 update #2: We followed up with PNE Agriculture regarding the status of the 4-H rabbit shows at the Fair due to the earlier RHD virus and its spread. We were advised that the PNE will not be holding the 4-H Rabbit show this year. Furthermore, it does not have up-to-date information regarding the level of risk the RHD virus continues to pose. Most of the rabbit 4-H members have switched to cavy projects for the season as a precaution.

Read more: Petting zoos; E.coli; risky & outdated, Stanley Park farmyard closes; Park Board goat case, FVA; Dolittle probe, Maple Ridge; 2020 updates; Ontario's roadside zoos

Aldor Acres petting zoo animals a cash grab, used for 'entertainment', then food; 2018 Revelstoke petting zoo charged with animal cruelty