The Greater Vancouver Zoo has cancelled hands-on sessions with rabbits over Easter following word from the SPCA that a highly infectious disease that is 95 per cent fatal to bunnies has spread to the Lower Mainland. SPCA photo

Zoo cancels Easter rabbit hands-on experience because of disease

Biosecurity measures in place include quarantining Zoo rabbits

The Greater Vancouver Zoo in Langley has cancelled all hands-on encounters with its rabbits over the Easter weekend, citing the spread of rabbit hemorrhagic disease (RHD) to the Lower Mainland.

An online announcement posted to the Zoo website said zoo rabbits have been placed in quarantine,

“The safety and security of our animals and guests are our top concern and in order for us have a safe and Easter experience for everyone, we will have live bunnies for viewing only, and will no longer offer petting of our bunnies at this time,” the announcemen said.

“In compliance with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, our team has put together key biosecurity measures in place which includes the prolonging quarantine of our bunnies.”

The zoo had been planning to offer children a chance to learn how to care for bunnies over the holiday. Other weekend events, like the Easter egg hunt, were not affected.

B.C.’s Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development issued a press release in mid-March after testing confirmed that feral rabbits in Delta and Nanaimo had died from rabbit hemorrhagic disease (RHD) — an extremely infectious virus that attacks blood vessels and organs.

It was the third confirmed diagnosis of the virus in Canada and the first in B.C.

READ MORE: Lower Mainland rabbits confirmed killed by highly-infectious virus

The disease does not pose a hazard to humans but has a 95 per cent mortality rate among rabbits.

All the dead rabbits have been feral European or domestic rabbits, meaning pet rabbits are at risk. The virus kills rabbits by affecting their blood vessels and attacking the liver and other organs, causing hemorrhages. Most affected rabbits die suddenly, but can show signs of listlessness, a lack of co-ordination, behavioural changes or trouble breathing before death. There is often bleeding from the nose at the time of death.

According to a fact sheet released by the BCSPCA, RHD can be spread easily through direct contact with bedding, food and water, as well as the feces and body fluids of infected animals. People, through their clothing, hands and vehicles can also spread virus to uninfected colonies, as can insects and wildlife that have contacted or fed on infected rabbits.



dan.ferguson@langleytimes.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Angry Inuk season finale for Cinema Politica Ridge Meadows

Film examines the impact of anti-seal-hunt campaigns on the lives of the Inuit

Mad Hatter’s High Tea for mental health in Maple Ridge

The second annual Mad Hatter’s Parade and Tea Party will take place May 26

Birds of a feather coming together for Maple Ridge art gallery

The ACT Art Gallery’s annual fundraiser TeaGarden! takes place May 27

Face pies for $5, all for a good cause

Managers at Save-On-Foods, ValleyFair Mall location have volunteered their faces as targets to raise money for B.C. Children’s Hospital

Maple Ridge tech company will power Uber Elevate

Moli and Uber announce RD partnership

Rachel Notley to skip premiers conference to focus on pipeline deal

Kinder Morgan has ceased all non-essential spending on the Trans Mountain pipeline project until it receives assurances

UPDATE: Woman dies in ocean accident near Tofino hours before daughter’s wedding

“We are so thankful to everyone who helped our mom.”

Olympian sues USA Swimming, saying it failed to protect her

Ariana Kukors Smith alleges her former coach Sean Hutchison began grooming her for sexual abuse at the age of 13

Defence minister thanks troops for B.C. flood relief work

Harjit Sajjan says not only was military response quick, support from locals has been ‘tremendous’

Arrest made in last week’s double shooting in East Van

Carleton Stevens, 37, is charged with attempted murder and remains in custody

Couple survives being buried in mudslide on B.C. highway

The couple, from Saskatchewan, were en route to Nelson when a tree fell in their path

‘So grateful:’ Injured Bronco hockey player glad he’s alive, works on recovery

Ryan Straschnitzki was badly hurt in the accident: a spinal injury, broken ribs, a broken collar bone, and punctured lung

PHOTOS: Floodwaters rise and fall in Grand Forks

The flood-ravaged Kootenay-Boundary region begins to heal

Most Read