July 11, 2007 02:07pm
ANIMAL activists have got their claws into a Tasmanian zoo as it awaits delivery of two Bengal tigers.
Against Animal Cruelty Tasmania (AACT) says it will protest the importation of the female big cats to the ZooDoo wildlife park at Richmond, northeast of Hobart.
The animals have been bred in captivity in Australia and will live in a cage currently being built.
AACT spokeswoman Yvette Watt said the tigers would be unable to perform their most basic natural behaviours and would not be suited to Tasmania’s cool climate.
“This would be imprisoning these animals for their entire lives for the sake of entertainment, which is totally unacceptable and unnecessary,” Ms Watt said.
She said the AACT has launched a public awareness campaign over the tigers and would protest the importation at the zoo within the next fortnight.
“Final approval for this has not yet been given by the state government and we will be urging the Department of Primary Industries and Primary Industries Minister David Llewellyn to reject issuing permits allowing this to happen.
“While the enclosure may exceed the most basic of requirements, it is far from being of a standard expected by the best international zoos which provide areas where tigers can escape from the public view in more natural surroundings.”
ZooDoo owner Trevor Cuttriss said every other capital city zoo in Australia had Bengal tigers and Tasmania should not miss out.
“This is a huge opportunity for people who cannot afford to get to the mainland, to see the tigers, along with a lot of other exotic animals, in their own backyard,” he said.
Mr Cuttriss said the enclosure being built far exceeded national standards for pen sizes and areas of exhibit.
He also branded claims that Tasmania’s weather was too cold for the animals as “rubbish”.
“The oldest tiger reservation in the world is in India and that is at the foothills of the Himalayas, which is covered in snow and is where they thrive.”
The Bengal tiger’s primary habitat is mainly confined to India, Bangladesh and Nepal.
They weigh up to 250 kg and roam large distances for food.
It is thought only 3,000 Bengal tigers remaining in the world. They are listed as endangered by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature.