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

Langley rower takes silver at Lucerne, Switzerland

Andrea Proske quit a good job to take up the sport at a relatively late age. It worked out.

14-year-old pilot attempts to break Guinness World Record at Langley airport

Mohd Shaikhsorab wants to become youngest pilot with fewest hours logged to fly solo

VIDEO: City of Langley orders road closed due to gas line break (updated)

Public asked to avoid area of 198 Street, between 55 and 56 Avenues

Lower Mainland cools down as heat wave lifts

Environment Canada predicts temperatures in the mid to low 20s

Educational videos for rodeo athletes address concussions, mental health

Ty Pozzobon Foundation, Canadian Pro Sports Medicine Team produce series

Stolen sunshade puts damper on Lower Mainland woman’s pet-relief effort

Broken umbrella taken from White Rock lawn ‘within 10 minutes’

Wildfires erupt in B.C. Okanagan forcing evacuation orders and a highway closure

Check out a list of up-to-date information on blazes happening within the Kamloops Wildfire Centre.

‘Amazing Race Canada’ competitors face B.C. challenge

They drove Corvettes, mastered falconry basics, and ate blueberry pie in the Cowichan Valley

Teen killed by train remembered for his love

Friends and family share stories of young Crescent Beach train victim

Grizzly bear jumps in river, chases B.C. kayaker

The bear got a bit too close for comfort along the Elaho River near Squamish

Parks Canada looks to shine light on cloudy future for historic sites

A plan is in place to produce 10-year plans designed to turn around sagging attendance figures

Island man convicted of 1999 sex assault at Fraser Valley music festival

James Allen Redden, formerly of Nanaimo, was found guilty of three charges

B.C. poet shines a bright light on struggle with homelessness

Book launch for John La Greca’s Homeless Memorial is at Vernon’s Gallery Vertigo July 21.

Ontario police say attack on Muslim man was motivated by hate

Two men, aged 27 and 19, have been charged with assault in the incident

Most Read