Singapore animal rights activists cry foul over India zoo swap
SINGAPORE: A group of young animal rights activists in Singapore are attempting to stoke public outrage over the potential shipping of animals from Singapore to India as part of deal that would see an Indian zoo become the caretakers of animals from the Southeast Asian country.
The Indian government has tentatively given its approval for three chimpanzees and four bat-eared foxes from Singapore’s Zoo to join the Mysore Zoo in India as part of an exchange in animals.
But activists say the Indian facility is not up to international standards and could leave the animals in a poor state.
“We should battle against this and other means of cruelty whether at zoos or a governmental level it is wrong,” said Will Choi, a recent university graduate and animal rights campaigner in the city-state.
He told Bikyanews.com that he hopes “the government will rethink this idea before animals are put at risk.”
Under the animal exchange program, Mysore zoo will give one male lion-tailed macaque, two sloth bears and two emus in exchange of two male and one female chimpanzees, and four bat-eared foxes from the Singapore zoo.
Zoo Executive Director B.P. Ravi told The Hindu on Tuesday that necessary paperwork for the exchange of animals with Singapore zoo was pending.
“We are sending the application to the Directorate General of Foreign Trade to get the permit to receive the animals from Singapore,” he said.
With the intention of taking up captive breeding of chimpanzees here, the zoo sought chimpanzees from the Singapore zoo under the exchange program. The last exchange of chimpanzees with any other zoo happened way back in 1984, he said.
To make the process of animal exchange programs a lot more easier, the Mysore zoo has applied for membership of the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA).
“Once the Mysore zoo becomes a WAZA member, exchange of animals with foreign zoos will become much easier,” Ravi said.
It isn’t the first time Singapore animal rights activists have spoken out against poor animal treatment in the country.
“We want all animals to not be in captivity and even more so these two pandas because they are not in their natural habitat,” animal rights campaigner Teresa Cho told Bikyanews.com last year as she and fellow activists were gathering to plan potential demonstrations against the panda’s remaining in Singapore.
Wildlife Reserves Singapore (WRS) on Thursday announced that the pandas successfully completed the one month quarantine on October 6 and would not be prepared for public viewing.
The two pandas, five-year-old male Kai Kai and four-year-old Jia Jia – are expected to be the new stars in a brand new area of the Singapore Zoo.
They will make their public debut in December.
Singapore’s government has also begun selling souvenirs, such as panda-inspired bags and toys.
The panda pair, which are on a 10-year loan from the China Wildlife Conservation Association (CWCA) to Singapore, were initially meant to arrive in March, but their arrival was delayed because more changes had to be made to their $8.5 million enclosure.
Director of CWCA Zhong Yi told members of the media in mid-August that representatives made a visit of the 1,225 square meter panda enclosure in June and found everything in order.
Like their fellow animal rights activists in Malaysia, Singapore’s growing animal advocate community has condemned the government’s decision to accept a pair of pandas from China.
The activists told Bikyanews.com that the conditions in Singapore “are not appropriate for pandas and the move would cause unnecessary stress for the animals.”
Brihana Chow said that the government should not accept the animals, “as it is a symbol of cruelty and they won’t have access to their natural, dryer and colder climate that they get in China.”