Representatives from a coalition of animal protection groups yesterday urged the government to reject a Tainan zoo’s plans to import giraffes and other wild animals from Eswatini.
Since it opened in 1994, the Wanpi World Safari Zoo in Syuejia District (學甲) has generated numerous controversies, Taiwan Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) executive director Connie Chiang (姜怡如) told an online news conference on World Giraffe Day.
Since last year, the zoo has applied to the Forestry Bureau to import 18 giraffes, rhinos, zebras and antelopes from Eswatini, and has already obtained an import permit, the coalition said.
Photo: Yang Chin-cheng, Taipei Times
The government should consider international trends in conservation, animal welfare and the risk of disease transmission, and reject the zoo’s request to bring in the animals, they added.
Chiang said that the zoo treats wild animals like “dolls” that can be replaced, adding that instead of importing more animals, it should focus on improving the welfare of the animals it already has.
Giraffes have always been a mainstay at the Wanpi World Safari Zoo, Taiwan Animal Equality Association (TAEA) researcher Sera Lim (林婷憶) said.
While the average giraffe can live up to 20 or 30 years in the wild and in captivity, most of the giraffes at the zoo have shorter life spans, she said.
Over the past 10 years, four of the five giraffes raised by the zoo have died from disease or accidents, the SPCA, TAEA, AnimalSkies, and Environment and Animal Society of Taiwan said in a joint statement on behalf of the 13-member coalition.
Transporting giraffes causes them tremendous physiological and psychological stress, the groups added.
International conservation advocates say that giraffes should not be held in captivity unless necessary, they said.
The coalition said that the zoo has failed to provide proper medical care to its animals, while putting them in harsh display environments, offering visitors paid feeding experiences that endanger the animals, and placing no restrictions on the behavior of its visitors.
New Power Party Legislator Chen Jiau-hua (陳椒華) also attended the virtual news conference, saying that the bureau should revoke the permit and wait until after improvements have been made to the conditions at the zoo before reviewing its application.
The coalition also urged the public to join their protest by talking about it on social media.
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