Fri, Jun 12, 2009 - Page 2 News List

Kaohsiung government thinking of importing koalas

By Flora Wang  /  STAFF REPORTER

Kaohsiung City Government is mulling importing koalas from Australia next year, a government official said yesterday.

Kung Tien-fa (龔天發), the deputy director-general of the city's Tourism Bureau, told reporters that the city government had drawn up plans to seek funding from the central government to house koalas at the city's Shoushan Zoo.

Kung mentioned the bureau's plan when asked about the conflict over the import of a pair of white tigers from China.

China's Xiangjiang Safari Park offered the tigers to Kaohsiung City Council Speaker Chuang Chi-wang (莊啟旺) as a gift during Chuang's visit to China last summer.

However, the import of the tigers has been stalled as local animal rights groups oppose the move, saying the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) states that tigers should not be traded or bred for purposes other than research or education.

CITES is an intergovernmental agreement to ensure that the trading of animals and plants does not hurt their prospects for survival.

Chuang this week lashed out at the city government for delaying the import of the tigers.

During a visit to Shoushan Zoo, which is temporarily closed for renovation, on Tuesday, Chuang said the number of visitors to the zoo had been dropping because “there is no star animal in the zoo.”

He said the city government had been blinded by political ideology by citing CITES as a way to delay the arrival of the tigers.

Chuang threatened to take action should the city government continue to delay the import of the tigers.

Kung said the city government would abide by CITES as white tigers are an endangered species.

He said the city government would also need to enhance communication with animal rights organizations before importing the tigers to Kaohsiung.

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