I am appealing for AVA to relook at the laws concerning the ownership of certain species of reptiles and mammals. I have grown up with many species of animals surrounding me as a kids and have grown a deep respect and love for all creatures great and small. Singapore is turning 50 next year and our government has asked us how we want Singapore to look like in the next 50 years.
I want an environment where our kids are not text book children, restricted to what can only be read in books or field trips to the zoo. Go to any national library and there is a huge sections on pets. My children always ask me why Singapore only have dogs ,cats and hamsters wherein other countries have so much more choices ranging from the tarantulas spiders to the ball pythons.
Your website states the following reasons for the following ban of animals.
• They may introduce and spread diseases to humans and domestic animals.
Absolutely wrong…Dogs and cats also spread diseases as with rats. And if you say that reptiles spread salmonella , I have you know that a 4 year old boy just died from that diseases from eating nasi padang from a food court. Therefore this notion is absolutely unjustified to say the least. Please also take a look at our neighbor across the causeway if the creatures they are having have spread diseases in anyway to humans and domestic animals alike.
In UK, the 3rd most popular pets after dogs and cats are bearded dragons. Again they have not been known to spread diseases to humans and animals as long as one practice proper hygiene as with handling dogs, cats and hamsters.
• Collection of wild animals for trading will lead to ecosystem imbalance and threaten the survival of endangered species.
That is true. Hence captive breeding is what we should encourage. AVA has done a great job with the Arowana fish and many variations of it has been found that has been the result of selective breeding i.e. the red, gold, white etc.. This species have been captive bred and if release in the wild are unlikely to survive because their colors make them stand out against predators. It is with this notion that many species of lizards have also been captive bred example the bearded dragon, iguanas, chameleons certain species of Tortoises and snakes including .the many morphs of the ball python . They now come in a variety of colors not found in their natural habits. I don’t see why these animals that have been bred locally through selective breeding cannot be tag or license like the Arowana fishes.
• The welfare of the animals may be compromised due to reasons such as unsuitable living conditions, poor diet and pet owner's lack of knowledge of the proper care for the animal.
One bad apple does not spoil the entire bunch. Sure there are bad owners out there. Even with dogs and cats we have people that have no respect for such creatures. AVA has done a great job on education of responsible pet ownership. As Singapore turn 50 next year, are we going to continue to be a ‘nanny state ‘. Singapore can only be first world if the people becomes first world, and responsible pet ownership is an example of a first world society. Just look at US, UK, Japan .
• Singapore's biodiversity would be greatly affected if such exotic pets were released in the wild, as most of them are non-native.
Again this is fundamentally flaw. . I also notice that there are many parrots in Singapore lately, since they are not endemic to Singapore and could have been escape pets should we cull all of them. Most of this animals, are not cheap and people don’t just throw them away. Just look at our neighbor across the causeway and do you see that happening?
Yes there could be escape pets and just hypnotically they survive in Singapore wont that be interesting? I would love to see hedgehogs in Singapore which are clean creatures rather than the rat which live in the sewer.
• If the animal escapes, it may cause nuisance, fear and trauma to the general public.
Seriously this is a joke. Do you want to bring up your children in the fear of animals? The world is getting flat. Our children will be laugh at if they do not know the difference between a python and a king cobra. Or for that matter scream if they see a lizard. It’s time we grew up as a nation!
Therefore what I am proposing is for the relaxation of some species of animals. Singapore signing of the CITES in Nov 1986 needs to be relook in the like of fresh evidence concerning the ownership of illegal wildlife. Animal smuggling continue to threaten critically endangered species of animals like the ploughshare tortoise, and there are certain species of animals that can’t survive well in captivity as pets for example the Jackson chameleon. However there are many species that have been successfully captive bred which AVA should look at. I am not a commercial guy nor in the pet trade but just think of the spillover effect for MICE of such events.
Herpetologist have grown worldwide to promote interest in reptiles and amphibians both captive and wild. Career options in the field of herpetology include, but are not limited to lab research, field studies and survey, zoological staff, museum staff and college teaching. I would love Singapore to have a “crocodile hunter” aka Steve Irwin.
I am no expert in animals beyond some of which I have done some research. Species that are top most on my mind that should be approve in Singapore are those that have been successfully captive bred for more than 3 generations and not taken from the wild population. AVA should conduct a field study trip to some of the reptile convention available in the states or even across our causeway to understand in greater details concerning captive bred “ illegal wildlife”
AVA responded on 19th Dec and herein please find the reply.
I will be working on a respond to AVA and you can email me at email@example.com to provide your inputs if you support this clause.
Thank you for your email to CEO of AVA, Ms Tan Poh Hong.
2 Currently, there are various breeds of dogs, cats and hamsters, chinchillas and many species and varieties of birds, fishes, shrimps and hermit crabs that can be kept as approved pets in Singapore. All these animals make good pets, and many of these animals can be found at the SPCA where they can be adopted. We recommend that animal lovers consider this option of acquiring a pet. In addition, herptiles (reptiles and amphibians) such as the red-eared slider, Asian box turtle and green tree frog are also allowed as pets in Singapore. Horses may also be owned and kept at our local polo and saddle clubs.
3 AVA safeguards animal and public health, animal welfare and administers the CITES treaty, to which Singapore is a signatory. In assessing requests for the import, sale and keeping of an exotic pet, the AVA needs to consider various risks and possible impact of allowing such animals into Singapore, including impact on the animals traded, other animals, the community and the environment. Specifically, there are 5 areas of concerns that we need to address for any proposed new pet species, i.e.:
a) Animal & public health – The species is assessed on its potential to transmit animal and zoonotic diseases from its introduction to our local animal and human population;
b) Animal welfare – The species is assessed on the standard and skill of husbandry and care required, including housing, diet, maintenance and access to veterinary expertise, and how well it can adapt to Singapore’s climate. These are factors affecting the likely welfare problems;
c) Impact on Singapore’s unique biodiversity and the environment – The species, if it escapes or is abandoned and survives with possible breeding, would be assessed on its potential to become potentially an invasive species;
d) Public safety – Some species may be venomous/poisonous, aggressive and/or has the potential to cause injury/harm to people or other animals. It would be assessed for its propensity to attack or cause harm; and
e) CITES status of the species to be introduced - whether critically endangered, threatened or non-protected.
4 While all animals can potentially carry and spread zoonotic diseases such as rabies, Herpes B virus and Salmonella, the risks are significantly higher with wild species due to their less certain source and health status, and also the risk of emerging diseases in wildlife reservoirs. In Aug 2014, there were multi-State outbreaks of Salmonella in the US, linked to keeping of pet bearded dragons. Out of 166 persons infected, more than half were children (see http://www.cdc.gov/salmonella/cotham-04-14/) and a third of ill persons were hospitalised. On the other hand, with respect to domestic animals, there are comprehensive veterinary import conditions to mitigate the risk of incursion of animal and zoonotic diseases. For example, we have rabies risk classification of exporting countries for dogs and cats, and disease-specific clauses for pet small mammals.
5 Countries including the US, UK and Japan that allow the keeping of exotic pets face major animal welfare and environmental problems. One good example is the problem associated with the Burmese python which has been introduced into the US as a pet. The snake has become an invasive species in the Florida Everglades; not only has it endangered humans but also threatened local animals due to its large size, aggressiveness and lack of a natural predator (http://www.nps.gov/ever/naturescience/burmesepythonsintro.htm). The Burmese python has since been listed, together with a few other species, as injurious wildlife and banned from import into the US and transportation. Introduced non-native species are more likely to damage our biodiversity than enhance it. In New Zealand, where the hedgehog was introduced, the animal has become a pest and an invasive species as it preys on local species of snails, insects, birds, frogs and snakes (see http://www.issg.org/database/species/ecology.asp?fr=1&si=176). Therefore, it is necessary to consider each species every carefully before introducing it into Singapore as a pet. It will take much resources, costs and efforts to manage, remove and control invasive species. Animal shelters in these countries are also burdened with animals that have been surrendered, rescued or abandoned, and suitable homes cannot be found for them. We wish to highlight that countries such as Australia and New Zealand also restrict the introduction of exotic pets.
6 Allowing more exotic pets would encourage illegal wildlife trade. Dealers could also pose sales through the internet. The herptiles are made up of a very large group of animals, for which it requires expertise and knowledge to identify individual species/subspecies/variants and the look-alikes accurately. CITES-protected species can be passed off as non-protected ones, venomous species as non-venomous ones etc. It would be a challenge to control the trade and sale of such animals effectively.
7 Many wild non-domesticated animal species do not take well to captive breeding. Encouraging captive-breeding does not always solve the problem. Thousands of wild animals are illegally captured from the wild each year and smuggled across continents to supply to the pet trade, many of which die in the process and passed off as captive-bred through unmonitored tagging and fake licenses. Demand-driven captive breeding may also result in illegal backyard breeding, inbreeding and weakened animals, causing more suffering to the animals. With regard to tagging, some species may not be suitable for tattoo or microchip identification, or may need to be anaesthetized for to such procedures.
8 Singapore is a densely populated city state with majority of our population living in apartment blocks with shared facilities. Exotic pets such as snakes and tarantulas may not be tolerated by everyone and are likely to cause discomfort in many. Escaped exotic pets would also be a concern with residents. Tarantulas have urticating hairs that are periodically shed or when mishandled. These hairs or bristles may cause serious allergies to children, the elderly and people with weakened immune system. Tarantula owners have reportedly been hurt by the hairs lodged in their eyes (see http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/seriouslyscience/2013/10/23/new-thing-fear-getting-tarantula-hairs-stuck-eyes/).
9 Finally, we share your views on importance of exposure of our younger generation to different species of animals, and to develop love and respect for all creatures. We also feel that many parents that bring their children to zoos, wildlife parks and sanctuaries that have been set up for education and conservation would find these visits to be purposeful and adequate to inculcate such values and knowledge in children, without needing to own some of these animals.
10 Once again, we thank you for your feedback and hope our explanation above clarifies our views on the keeping of exotic species as pets.
Please feel free to contact me if you may have any further questions.
Our respond to AVA on 27th Dec 2014
First of all thank you for your response. In regards to the areas of concern that AVA has highlighted I have to agree with you that with any introduction of “new things” there is bond to have a cause and effect for example the introduction of IRs in Singapore. It brings in “excitement” to the country, creation of jobs, economic benefit etc and of course the potential for crimes in our nation state, addiction to gambling , and other potential social ills etc which was why the government set up the Casino regulatory and authority body in Singapore. Of course this cause that I am appealing won’t need that kind of massive social evaluation, public debate etc. because the appeal is not from the majority but potentially only the minority.
I also do agree with you that every potential creature to be introduce as pets in Singapore need to be evaluate carefully and you have also listed out the guiding principles and the thinking process behind it. However to draw reference to New Zealand and Australia may not be a good example as these are nations that have many unique wildlife not found anyway else in the world primary because they drifted off from the main continent many many billions of years ago. You would know that these countries won’t even allow an apple to be brought in because of the strict quarantine law in a land adrift with a fragile ecosystem.
Singapore on the other hand is very different; we are connected to Malaysia and have been subject to much “invasion”, rats , otters, hornbill, cockatoos, crocodiles and even the occasional elephant.
We understand that the government can never please everyone, in Singapore we are very much a “nanny state” , seriously nothing wrong with that and we have enjoy the wisdom of the people’s elect for a long time. However with the invasion of the internet as well as more well-travelled individuals, believe you me when I say it would be a matter of time when people ask for more freedom like what we have seen during the last election.
It is a misdemeanor that reptile keepers or for that matter exotic pets creatures are irresponsible with no knowledge and just want to show off. Yes there are bad apples out there for everyone with a clear respect for animals big and small. I have stated some of the benefits to society and the potential spill-over effect and making Singapore “more happening” in my previous mail and hence don’t have to repeat it.
Maybe what I can propose or suggest to have some common ground is that AVA slowly but surely loosen our strict laws. Singapore with technology and know- how from those countries that have succeeded and fail can surely do a better job. We did not become 1st in the world by being a follower but a leader that the other nation state emulated.
1) Can we not license very kids friendly animals like the hedgehog, bearded dragon, iguana, ball python and some species of tortoises all of whom have been successfully bred in captivity for many generation with many different morphs not seen in the wild? We can surely microchip these animals with very very strict rules on enforcement for pet abandonment.
2) For every individual that wants to own these pets a strict assessment on the individual means and knowledge should be done. Yes make it difficult to own these pets but not impossible. Our many vets in Singapore already have the knowledge to treat these animals to say the least.
I know some of my suggestion may sound radical but with a working committee in AVA and a detail study I am very sure we can see some very good outcome in the city of Singapore.
Here is wishing the team at AVA the best wishes in the year 2015!
We, the undersigned, call on the AVA to relook at the laws concerning "illegal animals" under the CITES act sign in 1986(28years ago) and the outright ban of captive bred animals as pets.
The Appeal to AVA petition to AVA was written by exoticanimal and is in the category Animal Rights at GoPetition.