Legislators want stricter laws to protect animals

FARMS OF SHAME::Animals at recreational farms are often abused and kept in poor environments, and laws should be passed to protect them, legislators urged

By Lee I-chia  /  Staff reporter

Sat, Mar 30, 2013 - Page 3

The government should pass stricter laws for the protection of animals put on display and performing animals, Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Ting Shou-chung (丁守中) and Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Hsiao Bi-khim (蕭美琴) urged yesterday.

A video showing abused animals at recreational farms was shown at a press conference in Taipei held jointly by the lawmakers and the Life Conservationist Association (LCA).

The video, recorded by the LCA, showed a monkey repeatedly hitting itself on the head, a black bear repeatedly shaking its head from side to side, a lion anxiously pacing up and down taking small steps, parrots with parts of their wings clipped off, a sun bear with its claws removed as well as several other distressed animals, all kept in small, dirty cages at various animal recreational farms.

The association said it had done a survey and found that the poor, monotonous environments that the animals are caged in cause them to display abnormal behaviors. The poor environments include animals being fed stale food, animals being chained at the neck, and animals often being scolded and punished by their keepers.

Hsiao said although legislators have proposed amendments to the Animal Protection Act (動物保護法) and are in the process of negotiating the amendments, related government agencies should go ahead and start drafting corresponding regulations to stop animal abuse at recreational farms.

LCA deputy chairperson Chang Chang-te (張章得) said that while many recreational farms have been established for visitors to enjoy animal performances, the law only punishes a person for abuse when clear evidence has been presented after harm has already been done to animals. However, strict management regulations should be enforced to prevent animal abuse at all times, Chang said.

Showing a list of related regulations in the US, the UK, Singapore, Australia and Hong Kong, Taiwan Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (TSPCA) executive director Connie Chiang (姜怡如) said that animal displays and performances in these countries require licenses, and that most of these countries also have strict rules on regular on-site inspections.

“The related government agencies in Taiwan always say that they have persuaded recreational-farm owners to improve their animals’ situation and will therefore give them another chance to comply, without meting out penalties or giving fines,” she said.

“But who can give the abused animals another chance?” Chiang added.

Both groups said they are against animal performances because those forced behaviors are against the nature of the animals, and are giving visitors and children the wrong impression about wildlife and animal behaviour.

However, they can accept some animal displays, if the animals are kept in better living environments.

The Council of Agriculture’s Husbandry Division Director Hsu Kuai-sheng (許桂森) said a few animal recreational farm owners have been fined for animal abuse or hurting animals and local governments will continue to inspect these farms, but there are no regulations governing the environments of animals in captivity.