‘Opal’ - Boswell speaks out

2016-02-09 06:00
 Photo: supplied Orangutan Opal.

Photo: supplied Orangutan Opal.

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BRIAN Boswell of the KZN Zoological Gardens has lashed out at the SPCA claiming that the statement alleging cruelty towards Opal is just a ploy to gain funding for the organisation.

He said Opal was born at the zoo and has given birth to a baby in the past.
“The baby was a male, which was relocated to another facility to diversify the gene pool,” he said.

“The breeding programme was stopped over 20 years ago. The SPCA regularly inspects Opal at the zoo and since then the issue of her solitude has not been the alleged point of cruelty.” Many attempts have been made to find Opal a mate, however, permits have been denied he said.

“We feel this is another publicity stunt driven by the NSPCA to raise donations for an issue that does not exist. The SPCA Facebook page is directing people to donate to the SPCA rather than to another cause that would benefit Opal.”

Orangutans are natural semi-solitary animals, said Boswell.

“Opal is comfortable in her environment. We feel it would be detrimental and traumatic for her to endure transportation and adaptation to a new climate of facility. The Natal Zoological Gardens has been the only home Opal has known for 34 years,” Boswell said.

“She receives daily interaction with her keepers and constant environmental enrichment.”

Boswell said the proposed facility in the UK, which the SPCA wants to move Opal to, is a breeding ground and is saddened by the false statement released.

However, the SPCA said contrary to the statement by Boswell, the solitude of Opal has been a contentious issue for many years, the matter having been drawn to the attention of Boswell.

“Appeals have been made, pointing out the suffering and cruelty taking place at his facility, amply demonstrated by the plight of the sole orangutan, Opal, alone in her bare enclosure.
“Therefore the issue and/or campaign is neither sudden nor a publicity stunt,” said SPCA PR and outreach officer, Lisa Gadd.

“It is not correct to state, as Mr Boswell does, that the petition and/or campaign was started by the National Council of SPCAs (NSPCA). Both were initiated by the Kloof and Highway SPCA.”

Gadd confirmed that the Facebook page of the SPCA does appeal for funds, which is stated to be specifically “utilised for the fight to have Opal relocated” and includes the proviso that “if, for some reason we are not successful, all the money will be refunded”.

She said it is refuted that Opal “is comfortable in her environment”. She said that the visuals of her isolation, undoubted loneliness and misery are clear for all to see.

“The proposed facility in the UK for Opal is confirmed to be Monkey World, not ‘a breeding facility’ as claimed. “Acknowledging that when healthy male and female primates are kept together there is always the chance of breeding, this facility employs the following methods of birth control for their non-human primates - contraceptive pill, intrauterine contraceptive device, ovariectomy (surgical removal of the ovaries), hysterectomy (surgical removal of the uterus), vasectomy and castration. This far from being ‘a breeding facility’.” Gadd said that neither the SPCA nor the NSPCA have anything to gain by the campaign and publicity.

“Our concerns relate to our mandate, which is in our name - the prevention of cruelty to animals. Mr Boswell has an opportunity to change the situation of Opal for the better.

“An appeal is made to Mr Boswell to recognise the magnitude of the opportunity and to create a breakthrough. This would be worthy indeed.”
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