Xili Lake must change

PUBLISHED : Friday, 03 December, 1993, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 03 December, 1993, 12:00am

WHEN I heard that the Lai Chi Kok Zoo was to be closed, I was happy.

When I heard that the animals were to be moved to Shenzhen, my reaction was that the wretched animals would be going from the frying pan into the fire. But after two delegations (with representatives from the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, International Fund for Animal Welfare, Zoocheck, EarthCare and the press) had visited the Xili Lake Sanctuary and seen the beautiful layout and spacious enclosures and had received numerous assurances from the zoo management, it appeared that all would be well.

I even went so far as to say that Shenzhen would be a suitable home for our Botanical Gardens Jaguars.

Unfortunately our worst fears are being realised.

The management has cynically broken its word and turned the ''Sanctuary'' into a major centre of animal abuse. I still believe the keeping of the Jaguars in the Botanical Gardens is absolutely wrong but I would not, in the light of the recent developmentin Shenzhen, now advocate their transfer to Xili Lake as it is presently run.

I have been much saddened by the indifference of the management of the Hong Kong Botanical Gardens but I have to admit that all things are relative.

There is certainly no suitable site for a zoo in Hong Kong. Xili Lake at least has the appropriate physical surroundings.

What we have to do is somehow influence the Xili Lake management to drastically alter their disgusting attitudes to animals.

There is still the potential there for a fine zoo that all could be proud of.

If there is anyone reading this who has any influence in Shenzhen or has any useful ideas, would they please write to me c/o PO Box 290, Sai Kung Post Office.

Dr JOHN WEDDERBURN New Territories