Online petition against zoo plan gathers momentum

A petition launched against the plan to open a zoo at Tafa'igata next year has gained more than one thousand signatures.

Last month, the Magic Circus of Samoa’s Tupa'i Bruno Loyale shared his vision for the "Samoa Safari Amusement Park" set to open next May. 

It would include an exotic animal zoo, amusement rides, training academy for the circus and of course the circus itself.

The online petition was launched by the Animal Protection Society (A.P.S.) on Monday.

By Tuesday afternoon, it had gathered 1,169 signatures. 

A.P.S is directing the petition towards the Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Lopao’o Natanielu Mua.

“The Animal Protection Society runs the only veterinary clinic on the island and we believe strongly that this zoo must never be allowed to open,” the petition states.

“Animal welfare is a developing concept within Samoa and there is currently no legislation in place to protect the animals that will be imported.

“We believe that animals are not entertainment and are gravely concerned that the opening of this zoo will cause undue stress and suffering to the animals.”

Signatories to the petition have left comments with their reasons for signing. Several cite that zoos are "beyond us" and that animals belong in their natural habitats.

Others, like A.P.S., are concerned for the care and welfare of the animals and about the resources needed for a zoo.

“While the rest of the world pushes towards trying to protect animal rights and travel agencies and sites refusing to promote anything that is even slightly unethical, Samoa wants to take a massive step back. Please don't do that,” Lenita Wright commented.

“Animals should not be exploited for entertainment. A zoo in a country without adequate vet services for exotic animals is clearly not being set up for conservation or education,” said Amy Maxwell.

A.P.S. President, Dr. Joan Macfarlane said the petition should demonstrate to Minister Lopao’o and Prime Minister Tuilaepa Dr. Sa'ilele Malielegaoi that there is strong opposition to the zoo, both in Samoa and overseas.

Dr. Macfarlane said A.P.S. has been receiving lots of emails expressing concerns against the zoo and the petition is an opportunity for those people to have their voices heard.

“We hope to ask the Minister of Agriculture and the Prime Minister to reconsider their decision,” Dr Macfarlane said.

“The Ministry of Agriculture will have to approve it and do the quarantine, but if they won’t allow it we will have achieved our goal.”

A.P.S has not reached out to Tupai Bruno Loyale and does not intend to. 

“Given his reaction to the coverage on it, he doesn’t seem open to reason,” Dr. Macfarlane said.

Lopao’o is currently in Rome and was unavailable for comment.

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