Tue, Jul 19, 2016 - Page 3 News List

Group petitions against hosting penguins in Hsinchu

By Lin Hsiao-yun and William Hetherington  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

A parent-child co-study group in Hsinchu City has launched an online petition to oppose bringing black-footed penguins to the Hsinchu Zoo from Japan, saying that a recent increase in the zoo’s budget should rather be used to improve conditions at the zoo and education about animals for children.

The Big Feet Small Feet Hsinchu Parent Child Co-study Group praised Hsinchu Mayor Lin Chih-chien (林智堅) for a promise made during his electoral campaign to revitalize the zoo, and for striving after the election to obtain a NT$300 million (US$9.37 million) budget to do so.

However, the zoo’s plan to host penguins from Japan’s Ueno Zoo has raised questions about whether the zoo is big enough to accommodate and care for the penguins, the group said.

The group also expressed doubts about how beneficial it would be to have the penguins only on a temporary basis and what would replace them when they are gone.

The zoo has a budget of only NT$60,000 per year for medical expenses and many of the animals currently at the zoo appear poorly and dispirited, it said.

While there is now an additional NT$300 million in the city’s budget for zoo expenses, this money was difficult to come by and should not be spent carelessly, it said.

“Aside from improvements to zoo equipment and facilities, how much of the money will actually be used to improve care for animals currently at the zoo?” a member of the group asked. “In the process of stimulating revenue, will the zoo take into consideration what it wants to pass on to children?”

The group’s online petition made three demands. First, it called on the zoo to abandon plans to bring black-footed penguins to Hsinchu and use the funds on animals already at the zoo.

Second, it asked that restructuring plans for the zoo be made open to the public, describing clearly how the NT$300 million budget is to be used; specifically, the plans should outline the portion of the budget that will be used on each animal.

And third, it called for the implementation of a biology education program that would place the care and wellbeing of the animals at its center.

The group outlined “five freedoms” that it hopes the animals would enjoy under the restructuring: freedom from hunger, freedom from malnutrition, freedom from discomfort due to improper living conditions, freedom from injury and poor health, and freedom from unnecessary stress and fear.

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