'Giordano' bear still homeless

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 24 October, 1993, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 24 October, 1993, 12:00am

THE Government is to extend its search for a home for the ''Giordano'' bear, KK, after a ''poor response'' for help from countries in the region.

An Agriculture and Fisheries Department (AFD) spokeswoman confirmed it had written to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) because it had a larger network of contacts.

''CITES has member countries all over the globe; [the network] is bigger,'' she said.

The Asiatic bear, formerly owned illegally by multi-millionaire Giordano boss, Jimmy Lai Chee-ying, was seized by the AFD in July following the Sunday Morning Post 's revelation the store boss was keeping the animal in his back garden. Mr Lai was later fined $5,000.

KK is being kept at the AFD kennel in Sheung Shui. The department has written to China, Thailand and Japan, among others, to ask them to take the bear.

''We cannot just send KK off to the wilderness, because after being kept for such a long time she would not survive,'' the spokeswoman said.

She said the ideal destination would be a breeding centre.

If a home cannot be found in the region, the AFD will also look at breeding centres and zoos in Europe.

Animal rights campaigners said they were worried KK would be sent to a breeding centre in China.

Conservation officer of the World Wide Fund for Nature Clement Ngai Wing-keung said he understood the AFD ''preferred not to send it to China''.

''It is the right move [to contact CITES], because CITES has contacts all over. It can spread the news, better than writing to individual countries.

''The AFD's initial aim was to find a home close to its original habitat.

''We would object to KK being sent to China. But if she ended up in China, it would not be surprising.'' The International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) has offered assistance in finding a home for the bear.

''If they [AFD] like us to help with the rehabilitation, we can make contacts in the relevant countries,'' said IFAW's Hong Kong investigator, Jill Robinson.

''Financially we are prepared for the rehabilitation. It is a gesture on behalf of the species of moon bears.

''We will be delighted to help in any way we can.'' Meanwhile, the AFD's senior vet, Dr K. K. Liu, said the bear was well.

''It is not difficult to keep a bear. For a nine-year-old, her moods are very stable.'' He said KK's diet consisted of vegetables, fruit and dog biscuits. ''But her favourite is lettuce and desserts and sweets. She loves those.

''But we restrict the amount of sweets: they are bad for her and bad for her teeth.''