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CyprusHealth

MPs discuss disease risk of planned crocodile park

The move is considered as a breakthrough since gaps in legislation have allowed the import of all kinds of animals as pets, including crocodiles, monkeys and dangerous snakes

The House environment committee heard Wednesday that a crocodile park in the Famagusta area would need 80 tonnes of water per day and there was also a danger of spreading disease to the humans.

The head of the health ministry’s infectious disease surveillance unit told MPs that the crocodiles could be infected with the West Nile virus, which could be transferred to humans through mosquitoes.

Maria Koliou said people over 50 with existing health problems had an increased risk of being infected and developing encephalitis.

The matter landed in the environment committee after the community council at Dasaki Achnas decided by majority vote to initially allow a crocodile theme park even though the company running it has not filed an official application yet.

The council later held a public hearing in which residents of the area voiced their opposition.

Koliou said Cyprus had only one incident of the West Nile virus and was considered a safe destination for tourists.

A microbiologist professor told the committee that an infected reptile could pass a test upon arrival but later develop the disease.

If an infected animal enters Cyprus it would be like opening Pandora’s Box, he said.

There were also other environmental concerns, like the park’s closeness to the Achna dam, a special protection area on account of being one of a few breeding sites for two priority bird species.

All farming organisations expressed opposition to the park due to the high amount of water it would consume when their members were facing water rationing. They also argued that the crocodiles would alter the area’s ecosystem.

The head of the community council, Nicos Vasilas said they had accepted the proposal in a bid to attract tourists and raise revenues.

“I don’t care if the crocodiles suffer, or whether there is water, or if town-planning will not approve it because there is no road,” he said.

But he later said that if authorities said clearly there would be a health issue then the council would change its stance.

 

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