PUBLISHED : Friday, 01 February, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 01 February, 2008, 12:00am

Should the zoo's last jaguar be replaced when it dies?

I refer to the report 'Zoo searches for a new big cat as Siu Fa begins to feel her age' (January 25). Management of the Zoological and Botanical Gardens should abandon its plan to 'replace' Siu Fa.

Jaguars are designed by nature to roam territories of up to 129 sq km.

These elusive and energetic felines spend roughly 60 per cent of their time travelling in dense forests, climbing, hunting and even swimming.

In captivity, all these powerful instincts are frustrated.

An Oxford University study published in the journal Nature found that wide-ranging carnivores such as jaguars and other big cats 'show the most evidence of stress and/or psychological dysfunction in captivity'.

These normally reclusive animals shun human contact.

Subjecting yet another jaguar to the same awful life at the zoo would be cruel and unjustifiable.

Coco Yu, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals Asia-Pacific

I have always wondered what this lone jaguar was doing at the Zoological and Botanical Gardens. It seems so out of place - a Latin American animal lost in Asia.

Its enclosure is also closer to the ones you see in old-fashioned zoos, rather than the enclosures which exist in modern animal parks.

Even in a beautiful jaguar exhibit like the one at Woodland Park Zoo, Seattle, you can see the magnificent animal turning round and round, which is not a healthy sign.

There is no reason to get a new pair.

The zoo in Hong Kong should leave the conservation efforts for these felines to more specialised animal centres.

Instead, it should concentrate on educating the public on the threats faced by many Asian species.

Having jaguars will not be of any help for jaguar conservation work worldwide, even if the excuse would be to breed them and get a better genetic pool.

The jaguar is not a magnet for visitors to the zoo, where entry is free.

It would be better to change the role this enclosure plays at the zoo.

Installing animals that are easier to handle and more visitor-friendly would be wise, as it is difficult to catch a glimpse of the lone jaguar.

Singapore Zoo has done well in introducing Asian animal conservation.

A park will always be a place of restrained freedom for animals, but at least it should educate people, inspire children and somehow help those animals which are still roaming the wild.

Christian Pilard, Sai Kung

The jaguar in the Zoological and Botanical Gardens is nearing the end of its life. It is just part of the natural process that an animal grows old and dies.

However, we have to accept that we have contributed to this jaguar's pathetic condition.

Therefore, I think that after the jaguar dies, it would be a good idea to leave the cage empty.

Perhaps it will send a message to Hongkongers about endangered species and what we are doing to our planet through climate change.

Habitats are changing and disappearing, with glaciers in the North Pole melting. These changes are due to human activities.

We are polluting our world and threatening animals like the jaguar.

If we do not replace this jaguar, hopefully it will serve as a warning to people that some species are nearing extinction.

Maybe this is a more effective and direct message than all the newspaper stories about climate change and how it is affecting our planet.

It is a down-to-earth way of explaining to people the devastation we are causing to our environment.

Stephen Fu Ho-shing, Tai Wo Ping

On other matters...

The issue of how permanent identity card holders are treated differently based on ethnicity is a constant annoyance to some of us.

For example, my wife and I went to Standard Chartered Bank to open a savings and a current account.

They asked for our ID cards, and after a quick scan they asked for passports, which we did not have handy.

I asked why they would need the passports. The staff said that although we had permanent ID cards, we did not have three stars.

I pointed out that we are permanent residents, but she repeated her request. Other banks do not require a passport so I continued to press for an explanation.

She could not give me a valid reason other than the fact I am not ethnic Chinese.

Any policy that restricts service to me or requires me to overcome an added level of bureaucracy just because I do not have three stars is highly offensive.

On the phone, a supervisor finally told me a copy of my passport was needed as there were investments for which I would not qualify. I concluded that this was a weak attempt to appease me.

I can understand that there is pride in being ethnic Chinese, but I think that pride should not lead to discriminatory policies or practices.

Even the Hong Kong and mainland governments treat this issue with a certain level of discrimination. Recently, there has been some discussion in the letters page about going into the mainland as an American holding a permanent Hong Kong ID card. We are treated in the same way as a tourist regarding the fee we must pay. I wonder what would happen if the US required Chinese citizens holding green cards (the equivalent to a permanent ID card) extra fees to re-enter the US, or even to travel between states. There would be an outcry. Yet that is what US citizens with an ID card face when going to the mainland. That said, while this is an annoyance for me, compared to the discrimination that other ethnic groups face here, my annoyance seems small.

C. Gibson, Sha Tin

I refer to the report ('Minibus driver in girl's death jailed for four months', January 30).

Four months for the senseless death of a young girl?

When will this government enforce the relicensing of all minibus drivers and ensure public safety?

Minibus drivers must be trained. They are just as responsible for the lives of their passengers as an airline pilot.

Reckless driving, running red lights, stopping at green lights, speeding, falling asleep, competing for passengers - these seem to be accolades for minibus drivers.

The government has to act now.

Mark Peaker, The Peak