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 Aldergrove 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 to 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 announcement 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

VIDEO: Stolen Bentley seen driving wrong way in viral video has been recovered

Dash cam captured coupe nearly colliding with oncoming traffic

GREEN BEAT: Opening ‘new roads’ in Langley makes cycling safer

HUB Langley pushed to ‘UnGap the Map’ and create more bike infrastructure throughout the community.

VIDEO: Vancouver fall to Seattle in Game 2 of the playoffs

Thunderbirds topple the Giants 4-1 in Langley, evening the Western Conference series one game each

Jordan Owens memorial tournament continues

Players come from as far away as Washington State to take part in fundraiser

WATCH: Out and about in Langley

March 23 to 25; your guide to community happenings.

Calgary captain has 3 points as Flames torch Canucks 3-1

Giordano leads way as Alberta side cracks 100-point plateau

1,300 cruise ship passengers rescued by helicopter amid storm off Norway’s coast

Rescue teams with helicopters and boats were sent to evacuate the cruise ship under extremely difficult circumstances

B.C. university to offer first graduate program on mindfulness in Canada

University of the Fraser Valley says the mostly-online program focuses on self-care and well being

Province announces $18.6 million for B.C. Search and Rescue

The funding, spread over three years, to pay for operations, equipment, and training

Vancouver-bound transit bus involved in fatal crash near Seattle

One man was killed and a woman injured in crash with bus purchased by TransLink

Late-season wave of the flu makes its round in B.C.

BC Centre for Disease Control reported 50 per cent jump in flu cases in first weeks of March

Most Read