Outrage has followed the revelation that visitors to a Parrot Show at Paphos Zoo are allowed to handle a 14-week-old Siberian tiger cub.
The petting of the tiger cub caused a stir on social media, and garnered the reaction of Cyprus’ Animal Party, whose head Kyriacos Kyriacou said it is “forbidden” to use such animals in shows of this kind by law.
“Omg! One off the tick list! I went to see the Parrot Show and look what I ended up playing with. A 14 week old Siberian Tiger cub, part of a breeding initiative to help save extinction of the breed! Just awesome!” one woman wrote on Facebook, sparking the outcry.
“Advertising a wild, endangered animal as a play thing, is utterly shameful,” wrote another Facebook user. “Sorry but this is disgraceful. Shouldnt be publicised. Shame on Cyprus,” wrote a third.
Siberian tigers are an endangered species, according to the Word Wildlife Fund (WWF), and although the population saw a rise in 2017, the goal set by the WWF is to increase the population to 6,000 by 2022. The Paphos Zoo has reportedly released 13 of these tigers into the wild.
Kyriacou, who is also the Presidential Adviser on Animal Welfare, noted the Republic’s laws regarding the welfare and conservation of animals, which have been modified to reflect EU directives.
According to the changes made to the law regarding Zoos in 2014, each zoo that functions in Cyprus: “Must take part in research, following proof that it benefits the conservation of a species and/or training in relevant specific skills in the field of conservation and / or exchange of information on species conservation and / or, where appropriate, captive breeding, re-population of animals or re-introduction of species into the wild.”
Kyriacou noted that he has filed complaints against the zoo to the previous Agriculture Minister Nicos Kouyialis and plans to raise the issue again with the current minister Kostas Kadis, who he met ten days ago.
He said that during their meeting he raised the issues surrounding the island’s zoos, regarding the conservation efforts that they must be undertaking. According to the law, all animals must be kept in habitats suitable to their biological needs.