SASKATOON — The Saskatchewan government is to spend $120,000 for the care of five zebras seized from a rural property in June.
An order made public last week says the money is to help the Saskatoon Forestry Farm Park and Zoo provide care and maintenance for the animals.
Provincial conservation officers seized the zebras in June from a rural property near Candiac, Sask., located east of Regina.
Nicholas Hazell has been charged with several wildlife offences, including importing, possessing and holding the zebras captive without required licences.
Hazell is scheduled to appear in Indian Head provincial court on Nov. 7.
The province declined to comment further, saying the matter is before the courts.
The Saskatoon Forestry Farm Park and Zoo said it was contacted by provincial officials looking to find different accommodations for the zebras.
"Us being the only accredited zoological facility in Saskatchewan, we were happy to help them out," Jeff Mitchell, the zoo's manager, said Tuesday.
"We've helped them out in some instances, but nothing quite as charismatic as the zebras are."
Mitchell said the zebras moved into three caribou habitats that include 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.
Mitchell said the zebras were in OK condition when the zoo took them in, but are now much better and eating a balanced diet.
"The zoo never had zebras before," he said. "Most of my staff never worked with zebras, but we were able to call some other zoos across Canada and work with a lot of professionals on what we needed to do."
Mitchell said the government money is to help feed the animals, as well as pay for utilities to keep them warm.
He said the zoo is to also expand the barn so the animals have more room. They need to be inside when it gets below -8 C.
Mitchell said he doesn't know how long the zoo will keep them.
"Today, they're kind of in and out a little bit. They were actually exploring a little bit with the snow and having a little bit of fun," he said. "But most of the time, they chose to be in the barn."
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 24, 2023.
— By Jeremy Simes in Regina
The Canadian Press