Jaguars deserve more space

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 05 August, 1993, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 05 August, 1993, 12:00am

I REFER to the report headlined ''$5.2 million home for jaguars fuels row'' (South China Morning Post, July 15).

The jaguars should never have been placed in the Hong Kong Zoological and Botanical Gardens. What to do with them now is a real problem.

All those concerned now agree that their present cage is grossly inadequate. The adults, particularly the black male, show the typical features of confinement dementia.

The question is - will the proposed $5.2 million cage solve the problem? If you think it through, the answer is clearly ''No''; 600 square metres is still very inadequate for beasts of this type - and especially so if the plan to breed more comes to fruition. Their nature requires a very large area to roam in as well as good cover to feel secure in when enemy species (for example, man) approach.

Hong Kong's overcrowded urban environment is no place for zoos. Animals can be viewed at the new Sheli Sanctuary in Shenzhen or on television or in magazines. The only good solution to the problem is to send our miserable jaguars, orang-utans and all theother large mammals to Shenzhen.

The above is written from concern for our fellow creatures. But I also object as a taxpayer and an environmentalist. The current proposal will spend a large sum of taxpayers' money to perpetuate a bad situation and, in addition, it will be another step in the gradual destruction of our once magnificent Botanical Gardens. The $5.2 million would be much better spent enhancing the botanical displays.

Trying to have both a Zoo and a Botanical Garden in such a small space is attempting an impossibility. At present, neither function is succeeding.

Let us send the unhappy animals to more suitable surroundings and let us concentrate on creating a Botanical Gardens we can be proud of. I hope it is not too late for the Urban Council to reconsider its plan.