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

UPDATE: Dozens of farmworkers displaced after fire tears through building

Flames broke out Thursday morning in building that housed up to 80 workers at Abbotsford farm

Gerda Peachey to run for mayor’s seat

Community activist rails against raising of pride flag in 2015 and increased development

UPDATE: 83-year-old convicted murderer back in custody

Mission RCMP have located Ralph Whitfield Morris who escaped Mission Institution earlier today

Chilliwack RCMP seek shoplifting suspect caught on video

Man allegedly connected to automobile theft in Abbotsford, shoplifting in Langley

Abbotsford student hopes colourful chalk can bring online dialogue to ‘real life’

Anni Wust’s “forum board” aims to kickstart community conversations in Mill Lake Park

Find your perfect new job at the Black Press Extreme Education and Career Fair

Dozens of companies have set up in the Cloverdale Agriplex

VIDEO: B.C. ‘escapologist’ stuns judges on Britain’s Got Talent

Matt Johnson says televised water stunt was closest he’s come to death

B.C. hires 20 more conservation officers

The province announces 12 new locations for conservation officer services this year

B.C. pharmacist pleads guilty to animal cruelty charge

Joelle Mbamy was handed $1k fine, on top of $5k fine already imposed, and 10-year animal prohibition

‘N’ driver in McLaren caught going 70 km/hr in playground zone

Vancouver police said the driver was fined $368 and the luxury car impounded for seven days

Dr. LipJob ordered to stop doing botox and other medical procedures

Rajdeep Kaur Khakh ordered to stop unlawful practice of medicine

B.C. to prevent for-profit blood, plasma collection

Voluntary Blood Donations Act would make it illegal to pay for blood, plasma donations

Judgment levied in Lower Mainland mushroom skimming

A court has fined a man who made off with thousands worth of mushrooms

Bill Cosby guilty in sexual assault case

Comedian convicted of drugging and molesting a woman

Most Read