African trophy hunting show in Toronto cancelled



This handout picture taken on October 21, 2012 by the Zimbabwe National Parks agency shows a much-loved Zimbabwean lion called “Cecil,” which was killed by American dentist Walter Palmer. (AFP)

TORONTO¬†–¬†A Toronto hotel has cancelled an African trophy hunting show after animal activists protested the event in an online petition.

The Holiday Inn Toronto International Airport hotel says in a Facebook post it cancelled the African Hunting Events show, but didn’t provide a reason.

A spokesman for InterContinental Hotels Group, which owns the Holiday Inn chain but not the airport hotel, said the Toronto hotel decided to cancel the show earlier Thursday.

But Birgit Johnstone, a director with African Events Canada — the organizer of the the two-day show along with others in Calgary and Saskatoon — says the event will go on because she has a legal contract with the hotel.

She says about 40 people have booked trips and secured visas to travel from Africa for the event, which is an important part of their business.

Animal Justice lawyer Camille Labchuk, who led the online petition, says Holiday Inn showed leadership by standing up against the “senseless slaughter of majestic animals.”

“More and more companies are stepping up to the plate and refusing to play any part in the trophy hunting industry,” Labchuk said.

“The noose is closing around the neck of this cruel industry.”

Johnstone said there is a fundamental misunderstanding about the trips that are being promoted at the show.

“This is about sustainable utilization of wildlife in Africa,” she said. “It’s not about a mass slaughter of wildlife. These are legal hunting trips.”

The websites of some of the exhibitors promote hunting lions, elephants and giraffes along with photos and videos of the kills.

Johnstone said hunting is only part of what the exhibitors offer.

“There are also fishing trips, photographic trips, regular safaris, too.”

Johnstone is livid with the Holiday Inn.

“I’ve never tried to hide anything,” she said. “The hotel knew what the event was about for months and only now are they changing their minds because of public pressure.”