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SOS Rhino : In the News : Rare animals left to starve

Rare animals left to starve

  10/11/2003 12:52 - (SA)

Australia - A property developer faces animal cruelty charges after hundreds of rare and exotic animals were left without food in a remote part of Australia, the regional government said on Monday.

Among more than 2 200 animals kept at the Tipperary Wildlife Sanctuary were hippopotamuses, white rhinoceros and zebras.

John Ah Kit, local government minister for the Northern Territory regional government, said former owner Warren Anderson faces prosecution after his government stepped in last month to feed the animals to prevent them from starving to death.

New owners had bought the property, some 200km south of Darwin, Ah Kit said, and given Anderson two years to remove the animals. But the sanctuary manager had run out of feed and Anderson failed to respond to requests for more.

"The animal welfare authority has written to Mr Anderson at a number of addresses on two occasions advising that action would be taken under the animal welfare act," Ah Kit said.

"No response has been received from Mr Anderson other than from an intermediary, who advised that he had passed on the correspondence and had spoken to Mr Anderson about the seriousness of the issue.

"Despite numerous requests for feed supplies from the sanctuary manager, Mr Anderson had not responded and the situation had become very serious indeed for the animals, a number of which were in pens requiring specialist feed.

"It is very distressing to think that so many animals appear to have been left to starve and I can only praise the public servants involved for their swift response to what could have been a tragedy."

Anderson faces prosecution for failing to feed his animals, which may be seized. The maximum penalty is A$11 000 or 12 months imprisonment, plus A$550 extra for every day the offence continues.

The government also wants reimbursement for more than 100 tonnes of hay and other food provided for the animals so far.