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N. Sivasothi,
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Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research, Department of Biological Sciences, National University of Singapore. Since 1998 with origins from OneList.

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Sun 29 Aug 2004

Did the Zoo and Birdpark intend to cull and cripple birds?

Category : news

In the battle to combat diseases that infect man, hysteria can lead to unnecessary measures. What is the difference between making a difficult decision and taking the easy way out? Large scale operations might seem difficult, but are in some instances may actually be the easier option to adopt. In the meantime, the effects off the action may be far reaching.

The cat-culling hysteria during SARS resulted in the loss of faith by many individuals unconvinced of its need. The government's desire for openness, consultation and feedback is still dismissed as provisional hype at best and it is difficult to convince them otherwise. A pity since there appears to genuine effort in that direction.

Sanity might only prevail when such unsubstantiated actions are brought out in to the open and questioned. This may have happened recently, where questions by the The New Paper appear to have prevented large-scale culling and crippling.

"Ruffled feathers at BirdPark and zoo." By Teh Jen Lee, The New Paper, 28 Aug 2004 [pdf]. "Staff questioned after The New Paper gets tip-off about mass culling, rounding up of free-ranging birds."

"Kill the hybrids and the painted storks. Wing-clip or pinion (permanently remove the ability to fly) the milky storks. 'As far as possible, there should be no free-ranging birds in the park. ...action to be carried out immediately'."

These were apparently decisions at a top-level meeting at the Wildlife Reserves Singapore (WRS) reflected in an internal email circulated to The New Paper. After The New Paper questioned WRS, the subsequent media release only mentioned trapping and confinement instead of culling and crippling of birds.

It was pointed out by several individuals that resident birds actually help keep away many migratory birds, that AVA (Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority) agrees that (resident) vaccinated birds are okay, that culing would involve the more then 1,000 free-ranging egrets like the ones I saw recently near the AYE. What next? The line of reasoning points to culling birds on their annual migration!

Wang Luan Keng said, "They [migratory birds] have already started coming as the season begins in September. So far, no migratory birds in Singapore have been found with HPAI so if they are culled, these would be innocent victims."

Read the complete article at The New Paper. Apparently a senior zoo staffer decided to fight the hysteria.

Posted at 12:50AM UTC by N. Sivasothi | permalink | email | Raffles Museum news