Animal Protection Society question Zoo plan

By Sapeer Mayron, 12 June 2019

Samoa does not have the expertise or resources for exotic animals like the ones the Magic Circus of Samoa’s Tupa'i Bruno Loyale wants to house in his proposed zoo. 

This is according to the Animal Protection Society (A.P.S).

Last week, Prime Minister Tuilaepa Dr. Sa'ilele Malielegaoi confirmed that the Government is leasing five acres of Samoa Land Corporation land at Tafaigata to Tupa’i for his zoo and family park. 

But the A.P.S President, Dr. Joan Macfarlane, said any animal in a zoo is liable to suffer as there is not adequate care in Samoa yet.

“I don’t know what that gentleman’s overall plan is but I don’t see it is a good idea to bring in exotic animals that are not native to Samoa,” Dr. Macfarlane said.

“I don’t know how they are going to adapt to Samoa, and I don’t know how their needs are going to be taken care of, and how we’re going to ensure they stay in good health. If you bring animals like that in, it’s on the cards that they might suffer.”

Attempts are being made to get a comment from Tupa'i Bruno Loyale.

In the meantime, there is just one paid veterinarian in Samoa, the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries livestock veterinarian, Dr. Renee Avea-Maloamata Orange. 

A.P.S also engages a volunteer veterinarian, Dr Harriet Thornton.

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Neither of these women have the time or the specialised skills to work with animals if they become sick or injured, Dr. Macfarlane said.

Zoo veterinarians are specialists, who train to treat exotic wildlife species held in captivity. They usually have additional qualifications in the speciality of zoological medicine, and may require registration with a board. 

Speaking to the Samoa Observer last year, Tupa’i gave a teaser of his amusement park plan.

“It will have a small zoo with zebras, camels, beautiful birds from around the world,” he said.

“The small amusement park will be where families on the weekends can have barbecues or picnics, and at the same time enjoy riding the ferris wheels, different kinds of rides, opened on weekends and holidays.”

A.P.S priority is companion animals like cats and dogs, and they don’t typically engage volunteers who specialise in large or exotic animals.

“It’s possible we could be asked to assist because we might have a volunteer vet at the time,” Dr. Macfarlane said.

“There such limited veterinary expertise in Samoa that it is likely they would come to ask for assistance where that expertise is, even if it is not the expertise they would probably need. But it would probably be better than nothing.

“We probably would try to help if possible but we would rather not be in that situation where those problems arise.”

In the meantime, the local animal population has its own issues that need resolving. The dog and cat populations continue to rise and A.P.S cannot keep up with a desexing schedule needed to control numbers.

“We should be focusing on solving some of these issues before thinking about bringing in animals that this is not their natural habitat,” Dr. Macfarlane said.

By Sapeer Mayron, 12 June 2019

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