Endangered species find refuge in Shawinigan

SHAWINIGAN – Located in the middle of the beautiful little-known countryside of Shawinigan-Sud, Ranch Dupont offers a refuge for nearly 200 animals of around 30 species. Open to the general public for a year now, this refuge intended mainly for hoofed animals has been visited by no less than 10,000 people. And after very difficult months due to the pandemic, visitors are in great numbers this summer.
“The visitors are there and we are really happy. We are happy with the life we ​​have here, ”says the co-owner of the place, Mathieu Dupont.

“We have more entries than we thought. Even with the pandemic. ”

Yet just a few months ago, the site was deserted and its owners did not know how to see the future. All school groups or daycare services had canceled their visit. But since the reopening of outdoor places like the ranch, many families have come there. On average, 350 people visit the place each day today.

First lovers and parents of three children, Mathieu Dupont and Jolyane Campanozzi, a teacher, acquired the ranch and the 100-acre (40 hectare) land in 2016. Originally, the couple’s plan was to create a educational farm. But as the project developed. The idea of ​​a conservation ranch modeled on what is done in the United States emerged as the best option for the couple.

“We decided to create a conservation ranch for endangered hoofed animals and make a home for animals in need. From 2016 to 2018, there are many things that have changed, ”admits Mathieu Dupont with a smile.

“Many hoofed animals have gone extinct. Several kinds of antelopes and bighorn sheep have disappeared or are very threatened. It’s not well known in Canada, that’s why we decided to ranch. And with the kind of terrain we have, it’s ideal for these animals. “

The Ranch Dupont now welcomes deer of several species, elk, wildebeest, bison, watusis, Cape elk and even camels. The little new residents of the place. Certain animals without hooves have also found refuge at the Shawinigan-Sud ranch, such as lemurs, a turtle and kangaroos.

“Each animal has its history,” says Mathieu Dupont.

“We often have retired animals. They had no more room on the farm they were on. If we have space, we will always be happy to welcome them. “

A true family project, the Dupont Ranch can already count on the presence of Elianna, Thomas and Édouard, the successors of the Dupont family. In addition, the grandparents are helping to ensure that the family business is a success and that the visitors have a great experience.

“Our project has an important educational component. We talk a lot with people to give them lots of information about the different species that we have at the ranch, “notes Jolyane Campanozzi.

“We also receive a lot of children, from schools and daycare centers.”

Realizing that they are entering into ranch operations as the public has heightened awareness of animal welfare, the Dupont family want to continually improve their practices. “When you have animals, you must be irreproachable”, notes the co-owner of the premises.

“The laws are tougher than they used to be. And we respect them. There are inspections from the Quebec Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (MAPAQ) and the Ministry of Wildlife. We have a contract with the Energy Veterinary Hospital and we have 24 hour follow-up as needed. We are well supported. ”

Ranch Dupont also relies on the work of ten volunteers and five employees. Mainly teenagers with a passion for animals. Farmers neighboring the ranch also regularly provide assistance to the ranch to help it achieve its mission.