"It is a disaster waiting to happen and I'm appalled," says Woodyer. "They can certainly do a lot of damage and they could kill somebody. It's hard to believe it's a CAZA-accredited facility."
The accreditation reports compiled by Canada's Accredited Zoos and Aquariums (CAZA) are not publicly available, but according to Associate Director Greg Tarry, the organization does have policies in place to provide guidance to CAZA members regarding their use of animals in contact situations or programs.
"As far as animals interacting directly with the public goes, nowadays that is a very common part of most zoo and aquarium operations," Tarry wrote in response to an email inquiry.
West Edmonton Mall also provided a statement when approached for this piece. According to WEM, the mall's Marine Life Department is committed to providing educational and conservation programs that enhance the experience of its guests.
"West Edmonton Mall has the ability to reach out to non-traditional zoo audiences through our exhibits and our animal outreach programs, bringing vital information about animals to many people who do not frequent zoos."