Animal rights group hits out against Limassol zoo plans
RESPONDING to recent press reports on developments regarding the relocation of Limassol Zoo, animal rights group Animal Responsibility Cyprus (ARC/ Kivotos) yesterday attacked the authorities for their failure to implement legislation and address the problems of the zoo.
“Why are animal welfare organisations not being consulted? Why is there no transparency? Why are these backward decisions being made behind closed doors? Why are taxpaying citizens being deprived of their rights? Why is the World Society for the Protection of Animals’ proposal being ignored? What kind of democracy is this?” Patricia Kyriakou, President of ARC told the Cyprus Mail.
According to Kyriakou, ARC, in co-operation with international animal rights organisations, has for years been lobbying local and state authorities with the objective of transforming Limassol Zoo into an eco-zoo with no animals, equipped with interactive and educational facilities, thus ending the suffering of animals presently kept in cages.
“Presently, Limassol Zoo is operating illegally, with no licence by the Veterinary Services, while animals are kept in conditions that do not abide by the relevant EU Directive (22/1999) or by the provisions of a law passed in 2003, that adopted the Directive into domestic law,” Kyriakou explained.
The organisation has in the past prepared studies on the cost of running a zoo that would abide by the regulations. The study confirmed that such a venture would not be sustainable, as Cyprus does not presently have qualified professionals in zoology, and would simply cost too much.
“We have already given the government figures for operating a modern facility. They are in the millions to create a modern zoo and millions for running costs. We have no zoologists or experts in Cyprus, and the Minister of Agriculture at the time, Timis Evthymiou stated categorically that there was no such budget,” Kyriakou said.
ARC had also presented the suggestion of the eco-zoo, which the organisation claims was received favourably by former Limassol Mayor Kontides, but was not followed through by the current Mayor, Andreas Christou.
“The previous Mayor Kontides received the World Society for the Protection of Animals’ (WSPA) proposal to create a state-of-the-art eco-zoo with no animals, but with interactive, modern, educational and fun activities. This project was worked on by the Museum of Natural History in London. The Mayor looked favourably upon the proposal and always met with us. The CEO of WSPA came to Limassol and met with the Mayor, as did Dr Victor Watkins several times. We have collected the signatures of Limassol residents who support this and are strongly against any more caged animals.
“The current Mayor, however, seems to prefer to work behind closed doors and is reluctant to answer our phone calls. There also seems to be a division in the opinions of Limassol Councillors on how to proceed with the issue,” she added.
Commenting on recent statements by the zoo’s vet, Lambros Lambrou, that international experts have been called in to assess the feasibility of a state-of-the-art Limassol Zoo, ARC voiced concern on the transparency of the procedure. “Our great concern is that Lambros Lambrou will bring someone who is NOT an expert, but who will say what he wants him to say. His aim is to bring more animals to Cyprus that are not native to Cyprus to live their lives in captivity,” Kyriakou said.
Kyriakou added that the lions which used to be housed in Limassol, were actually sent to a safari park in Africa, where hunting takes place and not to an overseas zoo. “The lions were sent to be shot for fun in South Africa at a ‘canned hunt’ game facility. This was documented,” she said.
ARC has collected approximately 1,500 signatures by Limassol residents who oppose the continuation of the operation of Limassol Zoo in its current state.
(Source: Cyprus Mail)