Saturday, 16 November 2013

New sanctuary for rescued wildlife

Built by volunteers, shelter allows injured animals time to heal before release
By Audrey Tan, The Straits Times, 15 Nov 2013

A NEW sanctuary for rescued wildlife built entirely by volunteers opened its doors yesterday, with 46 animals including Indian star tortoises, Giant Asian pond turtles and a green iguana being given shelter.

Located at the Animal Concerns Research and Education Society's (ACRES) Wildlife Rescue Centre in Jalan Lekar, the 300sq m outdoor sanctuary has 10 enclosures for reptiles like tortoises and iguanas.

Mr Louis Ng, executive director of ACRES, said the sanctuary was built over the past six months by more than 100 volunteers using donated materials such as concrete and wooden planks.

Previously, rescued animals were housed in the indoor quarantine facility until they were well enough to be released into the wild.



Minister of State for National Development Desmond Lee, who was guest of honour at the event, said: "(The volunteers) are taking action to realise the passion that they have."

They were not just championing a cause verbally or online, but getting their hands dirty, he noted.

Construction of the sanctuary was based on a written plan, with the volunteers supervised by ACRES staff. The enclosures will allow animals access to shelter and food such as buttercup flowers, which is a favourite of rescued Indian star tortoise, Big Momma.

Founded in 2001, ACRES is a Singapore-based charity advocating an end to animal cruelty in Asia. It opened its Wildlife Rescue Centre in 2009, and has since come upon more than 3,000 wild animals in Singapore such as bats, birds and pangolins.

More than 40 other animals rescued in a poor state from abandonment or while transported for illegal wildlife trade are still being cared for at ACRES' indoor facility and will hopefully join the others at the sanctuary.

Many of the animals are illegal pets abandoned by owners.

Giant Asian pond turtle Boltz, for example, was found in November 2011 with multiple fractures to its shell after being run over by a truck near the Yishun dam. The impact also caused its shell to crack into two.

But Boltz is rallying after more than a year of critical care under The Pet Doctors veterinarian Rajaram Karthik, who treats animals at ACRES pro-bono.

"He is doing so much better now - the weight gain is evident, and the epoxy used in putting his shell back together will be removed or wear off in time," said the 30-year-old vet.

While the sanctuary will provide an outdoor area for many animals which have not walked on grass or climbed trees since they were poached from the wild, Mr Ng said the ultimate goal would be to repatriate animals to their native countries.

He said ACRES was in talks with non-governmental organisations in countries, such as India, to release the animals into "protected areas", where they would be safe from being poached again.

"We run on a no-kill policy, so every animal we rescue we give them the best chance to recover and then release them back into the wild," he said.




Committee formed to set standards for care and welfare of animals
By Kimberly Spykerman, Channel NewsAsia, 9 Nov 2013

A new committee has been formed to set the standards for the care and welfare of animals in Singapore.

Headed by MP for Chua Chu Kang GRC Alex Yam, it involves animal welfare groups, the pet industry, vets and the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA).

The committee -- which also includes MP for Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC Gan Thiam Poh -- will also focus on raising standards in the pet industry with industry-led accreditation schemes for pet groomers, pet farms, breeders and shops.

It will also promote community outreach and public education on responsible pet ownership and animal welfare.


He also said pet shops which want their licences renewed will have to carry out pre-sales screenings to ensure that pet buyers are at least 16 years old.

The pre-screening is meant to lower the chances of pets being abandoned.

The licensing condition will take effect next year and more details will be made available later.

AVA will also exempt the first-year licence fee for dogs released from its pound to animal welfare groups.

Both the formation of the multi-stakeholder committee and the pre-screening of pet buyers were among the 24 recommendations put forward by the Animal Welfare Legislation Review Committee (AWLRC) chaired by MP for Ang Mo Kio GRC Yeo Guat Kwang.

All 24 recommendations were accepted by the National Development Ministry, and AVA is working through the implementation plans.


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