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SPCA takes aim at animal show

The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals has taken out a full-page advertisement in today's Royal Gazette outlining its concerns about an animal show that plans to visit Bermuda at the end of May.

In the advertisement the SPCA states it is worried about the transporting of the exotic animals on the sea voyages to and from Florida. It also asks how the animals will be housed, the temperature within containers and the size of cages and ventilation, and whether or not the animals are shackled.

DNA Entertainment is promoting a three-day Bermuda Animal Extravaganza at Tiger Bay, St. George's, between May 26 and May 28. Posters for the forthcoming event have been pulled down from various locations around the Island and the organisers are still awaiting Government approval to bring their live animals to the Island.

However, Ray Hollis of DNA Entertainment, said last night 90 percent of the tickets for the shows had been sold indicating public support.

And he responded to the SPCA advertisement by saying the organisation appeared to be stepping beyond its mandate and into the realm of animal activism.

The SPCA has attempted to hold at least two meetings with Mr. Hollis to discuss its concerns but has so far been unsuccessful.

In its advert today, the Society states concern about the safety factors surrounding the importation and showing of big cats and whether or not there is a contingency plan should any of the animals escape.

And the SPCA claims: “Not to have a specific plan for specialised veterinary care for the exotic animals illustrates a lack of planning, ignorance as to the special needs of exotic animals and a lack of concern for the animals. In our view, having specialised vets travel with the animals during transport and while here should be one of the pre-requisites for application approval.”

The advert also asks the public to consider whether or not watching a tiger jump through a hoop, as illustrated on the circus' web site is, as the organisers state: “A chance to learn about preservation and conservation.”

DNA Entertainment's Mr. Hollis said the SPCA had changed tact from at first being concerned about the animals being whipped, until it became clear that was not the case, to then raising the issue of veterinary inspections and the housing of the animals.

He said the welfare of the animals complied with US Game and Wildlife regulations regarding transportation and size of cages. Mr. Hollis added: “The negative publicity is not affecting us. The SPCA appears to be going beyond its mandate and becoming animal activists. Either they are the SPCA or they are animal activists.”

He said there had been no meeting with the SPCA or a sharing of details about the animals' welfare because he felt the SPCA would use the information against them.

And Mr. Hollis said the animals for the shows are now in transit in the US. He expects Government to issue permission for the animals to come to Bermuda 10 days before the date of the opening show.