Should we keep the EL Zoo or not?
Many Buffalo City taxpayers are up in arms at the municipality's decision to spend R2.4 million on renovating the East London Zoo. This comes after pressure from animal rights activists to have the zoo closed after allegations of animal cruelty.
The outcry about the zoo was sparked off by pictures that circulated on social media in early 2018 showing Jenny the bear in an unhealthy state. She was later put down following a collective decision. Her daughter Gina is still at the zoo.
The Eastern Cape Rising Sun asked some residents what they feel about this matter. Here's what some readers had to say:
"The zoo should close down even if the municipality wants to act right now, why have they not fixed it all this time? This issue is not something new and should not be treated like it happened overnight; they took their dear time to give attention to the animals and now we want it closed."
"The zoo is a great place for children to get real-life experiences with animals; it’s not by mistake that we have a zoo. Some people cannot afford to visit game reserves to see the animals and the zoo allows for everyone to be able to get the chance. The city needs the zoo, it should just get fixed."
"The animals must be set free so they can be happy and be with other animals. If they are kept locked up like that it affects their health because the lion cannot even run and chase other animals for food. They are not meant to be locked up, they have families and the zoo is not their home."
"The municipality must keep their promise and fix the zoo, make it appropriate for the animals and visitors, our children want to be taken to the zoo and we don’t want that taken away from them only because the animals were not taken care of and had their rights violated."
"It is wrong for the municipality to only act now because people have raised their concerns for years now, they should revamp the zoo and make improvements that we can actually see but if that is a hard task for them then they might as well close it down."
"They should close it down, the place is not proper for animals to live in, they are suffering in there and they do not deserve it. Animal rights activists must not give up on this fight until those animals are placed in good locations where they can live freely and not stuck in small spaces."
"I recall sharing a social media post of the poor state of the zoo, which went viral and even got the attention of Carte Blanche in 2018. There was a protest to close down the zoo before. Personally, I think it is a waste. There is no passion for the animals. I do not support animals in cages. The government can use the money for more important things, like repairing the roads."
"I have been to the zoo and my company
was involved in some of the upgrades there. The manager who is running the zoo, Alison, does try really hard and cares about the animals. The problem is that BCM has never prioritized the animals in their budget, so they have never been able to do much at the zoo with the little bit of funding that they do get.
I don’t think EL needs a zoo, even where it is located, it doesn't attract anyone due to safety issues. In saying that a lot of the animals are from bad places and need to be in some type of sanctuary.
Now that we have these animals it is BCM’s responsibility to look after them and the neglect they are shown is unacceptable.
BCM does need to spend money on a number of important things from better service delivery to maintenance of infrastructure, but 2.4 million in the totality on BCM’s budget is not much and can easily be included in the budget for the zoo.
BCM needs to allow money for all the important things and there is too much wasted expenditure that should be addressed and not debating whether the zoo should receive funding or not. The welfare of the animals is definitely BCM’s responsibility."