The Malta Independent 18 September 2019, Wednesday

Application to sanction Rabat exotic animal farm filed

Kevin Schembri Orland Wednesday, 23 May 2018, 10:49 Last update: about 2 years ago

An application to sanction an exotic animal farm on ODZ land in Rabat has been filed with the Planning Authority, requesting the sanctioning of a number of cages for exotic big cats.

The application plans show that there are four cages to be sanctioned. One cage is listed as being able to hold eight tigers, another to hold three lions, another for three jaguars and one for three leopards. The official application description reads: “To sanction the change of use from a cow breeding farm to an exotic animal farm (animals with appropriate certificates). Sanctioning also include safety fencing.” The “farm” is located on Dingli Road.

This newsroom asked the Environment Ministry a number of questions. The ministry was asked whether the site owner has permission to hold exotic animals, and whether they had knowledge of the animals currently held on site.

The ministry said that the Veterinary Regulation Directorate is fully aware of the site in question and type and number of animals that this person is holding on this site. “The applicant is registered as a dangerous animal keeper in accordance to the owning and keeping of dangerous animal and in line with Legal notice 46 of 2016.”

The application was filed by a certain Brian Azzopardi, on behalf of Serengeti Animal Park Ltd (of which Azzopardi is the sole shareholder). It is not clear whether the site would be open to the public, or if the animals are kept as private pets. Photos of Azzopardi on Facebook show him interacting and even playing with some lions and tigers, and cuddling the young ones.

The idea of keeping exotic animals in Malta has long been a source of controversy in the past, mainly due to concern that the animals would not be comfortable in cages, and also due to the danger they pose.

Animal parks in Malta have made the news on a number of occasions. One such example, would be the Montecristo zoo, where a child had been attacked by a tiger back in 2015, suffering serious injuries.

A number of other parks exist around the island. One such wildlife park exists close by, known as the Wildlife Park in Mtahleb. The site was destroyed by a fire late in 2017. Two leopards, an emu and a number of monkeys were among animals killed in the blaze.

In October 2017, the Planning Authority Board had voted to sanction structures that were previously illegally built at the L-Arka ta' Noe' Zoo in Siggiewi, despite objections by the Environment and Resources Authority (ERA). A number of zoo goers had attended the meeting, and spoke in favour of the zoo, arguing in favour of its therapeutic qualities.

 

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