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SPCA seeking ban on importation of exotic animals for shows

The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals will lobby for legislation which would ban the importation of exotic animals for entertainment purposes.

Dr. Andrew Madeiros said the SPCA feels that in light of the Environment Ministry?s decision to allow local entrepreneurs DNA Entertainment import tigers and bears for shows in St. George?s, the current legislation is not good enough.

?The current legislation is not particularly restrictive, as long as someone gets permits we don?t have a lot of legal power to stop exotic animals coming in for display,? he said.

?We are looking at another way to deal with this issue, to have legislation that would ban the use of animals for profit. We want to do what we can to prevent this from taking place again.?

The SPCA, along with other animal advocates, spent two months petitioning against the Animal Extravaganza shows which took place from May 26-28.

They argued that the shows would display animals doing unnatural acts and that the journey, by ship, to Bermuda was cruel.

Though the shows organiser, Ray Hollis, said the shows would have education value Dr. Maderios said that was not true.

?I was very surprised that part of the show involved a bear riding a motorbike,? he said. ?Let?s face it was a circus, whether the animals were ex performers or not they were performing circus-like acts. They were asked to do unnatural things. It is strictly for entertainment I was pretty shocked about that.?

He added that though many people appeared to enjoy the shows and tickets sold well it was important for people to realise what they were endorsing when going to the shows.

?I think education is part of it,? he said. Bermuda was behind other countries that have already banned such acts he said because people were unaware of the treatment and lifestyle of animals involved in travelling acts.

He added that Bermuda?s lack of accessibility to such large animals increased people?s interest in the event, but that it was not a good enough excuse to allow such acts on the Island.

?In other countries people can go to zoos and see the animals in a more natural environments,? he said.

?People are always looking for something to do with kids and this show is something different. What they learn from it is a different story.

?To call it an educational event is a bit of a farce. Kids are interested in animals and the environment. There are lots of other ways to expose them to animals and the environment.?

Dr. Maderios said the SPCA hopes to have drafted legislation by the fall.

?We are looking at a legislative agenda and that?s something new for us,? he said.

?I would like to think sometime by the end of the year we would have a better of idea of what others have and what we would need.

?We would love to hear from anyone with experience in law or legislation who is willing to help or assist us.? Some of the countries that have already banned animals used for entertainment purposes are the UK, Denmark, Finland, Sweden, India, Israel, Australia and Singapore.