Request to import giraffes from Leofoo Village criticized
By Kayleigh Madjar / Editor, with CNA
Animal rights activists and lawmakers yesterday protested a request by Leofoo Village theme park to import three giraffes from Mexico, citing the untimely deaths of eight giraffes at the park over the past decade.
Guansi Township Park (關西) in Hsinchu County claims to be Asia’s first zoo to be combined with a theme park and a resort hotel, with more than 1,000 animals from around 70 species.
However, it has been fraught with controversy since it opened in 1976, the Taiwan Animal Equality Association and the Life Conservationist Association said at a news conference in Taipei.
After only three years of operation in 1979, African sacred ibises acquired by the zoo in the United States escaped into the wild. Their population has since exploded to over 8,000 at the end of the previous decade, becoming a problematic invasive species that the Forestry Bureau decided in 2018 to begin eradicating.
In 2004, the park was criticized for importing and breeding white tigers because the rare variant was said to suffer from genetic defects. All white tigers are descended from a single captured tiger and are therefore propagated by drawing from a limited gene pool.
Then, in 2015, a giraffe gave birth prematurely in front of park visitors after mating with her biological sibling. The calf died shortly thereafter.
Over the past 10 years, Leofoo village has continuously bred and imported giraffes, said Animal Skies researcher Sera Lim (林婷憶).
Eight of them died of illnesses or accidents, the majority of them before the age of 10, while their average life expectancy is 27 years, she said.
Many have died after being infested with Haemonchus contortus, a blood-sucking parasite also called “barber’s worm” that affects grazing animals, Lim said, adding that it needs to be treated with dewormers and antibiotics.
A giraffe on loan from the Taipei Zoo died of the disease in 2019 aged four after a year and a half in the care of Leofoo Village, despite medication and monitoring, she said.
The giraffe enclosure also proved dangerous, she said, citing fatal injuries sustained by two giraffes after a fall, one who was euthanized in 2015 after breaking her leg and another killed after falling in a wet enclosure during a typhoon in 2019. .
Then in January, the same giraffe that gave birth in front of visitors in 2015 died aged 15 from enterotoxemia caused by a bacterial infection, leaving just one giraffe at the zoo, Lim said.
Her companion had died earlier in 2015, an autopsy revealing plastic bags in his stomach, she said, adding that it was likely due to illicit feeding by guests at the resort, as there was no monitoring.
Based on this file, association director general Lin Yi-shan (林憶珊) alarmed Leofoo village’s request to import three more giraffes from a zoo in Mexico and urged the government to reject its request. .
As of press time last night, Leofoo Village had not responded to a request for comment.
Of all the zoos in the country, only Taipei Zoo has achieved certification as an educational site as defined by the Environmental Education Law (環境教育法), Taiwan People’s Party legislator Tsai Pi said. -ru (蔡壁如).
There are plans to amend the Wildlife Conservation Law (野生動物保育法) to clarify rules requiring all zoos wishing to import protected wildlife species to obtain such certification, Tsai said.
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