By Evie Andreou
THE CYPRUS Animal Party denounced on Monday the Limassol Zoo’s admission that it had cropped its resident pelican’s feathers to prevent it from escaping its enclosure and wandering around town.
For several months earlier this year Roxani the pelican became a local attraction living along the beach front after escaping Limassol zoo. She enjoyed, according to the Animal Party, the “love and interest of Limassolians and tourists”.
“But the zoo officials decided to put it in an enclosure again and cut its feathers by force to prevent it from escaping,” the announcement said.
The party said that even though the zoo gave reassurances that its feathers will grow back, there is no way of knowing whether the bird after its “brutal punishment” will try to regain its freedom.
According to the law on animal welfare, the party said, surgical procedures aiming to alter the appearance of an animal for other than non-medical reasons is illegal.
“We believe that this action was illegal and not necessary. The pelican didn’t harm anyone,” the party said.
The head of the Limassol zoo Dr Lambros Lambrou told the Cyprus Mail that trimming birds’ feathers to prevent them from flying is a standard procedure followed by zoos worldwide.
“We did not perform surgery on the pelican. We simply trimmed its feathers, which is something that needs to be done periodically. It does not cause the bird any pain and it is not against the law,” Lambrou said.
Six-year old Roxani fled her enclosure in May and wandered around the beach across the street from the zoo, where she socialised with locals and tourists.
“We chose to let her be for a while, because we did not want to forcibly bring her back. We arranged to feed her in cooperation with the lifeguards of the beach and waited until she felt safe to follow a person she trusted back at the zoo,” he said.
But after a few days Roxani flew several kilometres away, to Lady’s Mile beach, and after the zoo found out she was there, they teamed up with a restaurant owner, Lambrou said, to feed her a few more days before she was finally brought back into the zoo.
“She has been back in her enclosure for about a month now. Her feathers will be trimmed again when they grow bigger, but I would like to point out that it is not illegal nor did we perform surgery on her,” Lambrou said.
While out and about, Roxani inspired two graffiti artists, Paparazzi and Opsis, who painted a mural of her, called ‘Free and beautiful’ on the side of a shop renting out sun beds and umbrellas.