Agriculture minister Nicos Kouyialis on Thursday issued a decree prohibiting the importation of and trade in a wide range of wild animals and birds, a move directed at the Melios Zoo and Pet Shop to stop the business from selling animals.
The decree places a number of species of wild animals and birds on the so-called ‘red list’.
In addition, the ministry addressed a letter to Melios Menelaou, owner of Melios Zoo, informing him that he is being removed from the list of merchants authorized to engage in intra-Community trade of birds and wild animals.
On June 10, Nicosia-based Melios had announced a sale of mouflons, deer, buffalo and other animals on its Facebook page. The post touted “special prices until the end of the month” and featured photographs of red deer and mouflons, declaring “all are in stock”.
The minister said the business appears to have broken several laws, including possession of mouflons, expanding the zoo on state-owned land, and importing wild animals without declaring them to the veterinary services.
“Overall, his whole operation is deemed to be unlawful,” he added.
Kouyialis said the decree ensured the businessman in question cannot sell any of the animals in his zoo, thus ensuring they do not end up as pets in people’s homes.
Daily inspections were being carried out on the zoo’s premises.
According to Kouyialis, authorities could have revoked the businessman’s zoo permit, but decided against it for now as the priority was to ensure the animals’ wellbeing.
“In due course, we shall revoke his permit once we find suitable locations for the animals, that is to say, zoos which meet the conditions ensuring a dignified living for these animals.”
The business insists its actions are above board as it imported the animals as pets in the first place.