Surrey shelter pledges to fight for exotic animals as SPCA enters scene

SURREY — The man who founded an exotic animal shelter with deep roots in Surrey is cringing at the thought of the BC SPCA jumping into the mix.

Thanks to a $5-million grant from the province in this year’s budget, the SPCA plans to build a large animal barn and a building just for seized cats in Surrey.

CEO Craig Daniell told the Now in February the dollars would allow further expansion, with plans for an exotic animal facility. It would be a first for the organization.

"There really isn’t any capability to house exotic animals anywhere in the province, to be honest," said Daniell.

Gary Oliver, who started both Cinemazoo and the Urban Safari Rescue Society, took issue with that statement as someone who has housed exotic animals from far and wide for decades.

Since 1987, he’s spent his time visiting schools, day cares, community centres, libraries and festivals educating kids and adults about animals, the natural world and conservation issues.

Oliver worries the SPCA will euthanize many animals, but the SPCA assures they have one of the lowest euthanasia rates in North America.

Oliver also worries that by entering the scene, the SPCA may push out the ‘little guys’ like him. But he says he won’t give up without a fight.