"I was raised in a Buddhist family and I am concerned about the releasing of animals on Vesak Day.
I have a Buddhist friend who used to buy caged animals for release on Vesak Day. However, she stopped doing so last year, after witnessing the death of a bird which she had released. The bird crashed into a tree, confused and frightened. I believe that this is a common scene on Vesak Day.
Most of these animals, bought from pet shops, are caught just days earlier and kept in cages for sale on Vesak Day.
By buying these animals, Buddhists are actually encouraging the catching of more of them. As a result, more birds and turtles are in danger.
It is an illusion that when we release these animals, we are releasing them to their original habitat. Released animals, hungry and frightened, would not be able to find shelter and food. Most of them would die soon after release, out of fright, hunger and fatigue, or get eaten by other animals.
Although only a minority are involved in this practice, the consequences are tragic. Not only are these people depriving the animals of their habitat, but they might also risk bringing about an epidemic in Singapore.
I am sure that Singaporeans have not forgotten the horrors brought about by Sars. The releasing of animals from abroad might introduce new bacteria and viruses into Singapore. We cannot be sure where these animals come from, and they might carry a deadly virus.
If a stray animal were to eat the animals and pass on the virus to other strays, there may be a high chance of us contracting diseases.
On top of that, people tend to release these animals at reservoirs, which are one of our main sources of water.
Instead of releasing animals on Vesak Day, why not abstain from eating animal products for a week? This is more effective, as we will be able to reduce the number of animals killed.
Instead of releasing an animal, we should adopt a pet from the SPCA. Of course, we must be responsible towards the pet. By adopting a pet, we are making another life better, and by showing the pet concern, we are being compassionate and thoughtful.
Those who see the negative effects of releasing animals on Vesak Day should educate others who are still ignorant about the matter. This way, we can more effectively spread the message around."