SPCA’s accusations a publicity stunt, says Boswell

2016-02-05 11:11
Brian Boswell stands outside Opal the Orangutan’s enclosure.

Brian Boswell stands outside Opal the Orangutan’s enclosure. (Ian Carbutt, The Witness)

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Pietermaritzburg - Natal Zoological Gardens owner Brian Boswell has described the NSPCA’s campaign for him to release Opal the orangutan as a “publicity stunt”.

Boswell was responding to a Kloof and Highway SPCA press release that accused him of cruelty toward the orangutan by keeping her in isolated captivity for over 30 years.

Boswell said the NSPCA was using Opal’s solitary captivity “to raise donations for an issue that does not exist”.

However, the Kloof and Highway SPCA and its national office, the NSPCA, hit back on Thursday saying Opal’s solitude had been a contentious issue for several years.

Boswell said Opal was born at the Natal Zoological Gardens and had given birth to a baby of her own in the past, and had not always been alone.

Boswell said the SPCA had done numerous inspections of the Natal Zoological Gardens in the 24 years since.

“In a similar campaign in April 2013, the SPCA found a home for a solitary elephant named Thandora from the Bloemfontein Zoo, where she had lived a healthy life for 23 years.”

He said Thandora was taken from her home and transported across the country to a reserve, where the SPCA intended to integrate her into an existing herd.

“Thandora died of questionable causes in a climate that she was not accustomed to in June 2013.

“Orangutans are naturally semi-solitary animals. After 34 years, Opal is comfortable in her environment.

“We feel it would be detrimental and traumatic, even potentially fatal, for her to endure transportation and adaptation to a new climate or facility. The proposed facility in the UK [Monkey World] that the SPCA would like to have Opal relocated to, is not a registered charity, and is in fact a breeding facility that profits from the display of primates in the form of admissions.”

He said such facilities used media campaigns such as the SPCA’s to generate donations.

“Many attempts” had been made to find another mate for Opal, and “the government” had denied permits in a bid to prevent breeding.

“We are saddened that there are so-called ‘welfare’ organisations casting aspersions about a mentally and physically healthy animal for their own financial gain,” said Boswell.

NSPCA spokesperson Isabel Wentzel denied they were involved in a publicity stunt and said Thandora the elephant had died of “botulism poisoning, a condition unrelated to her release”, and not from “questionable causes”.

She said Opal was “miserable and lonely”, and denied Boswell’s claims that Monkey World would be a negative environment for her.

While admitting that Monkey World was not a charity, she maintained it was reputable and supported by the Born Free Foundation and the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW).

Read more on:    spca  |  pietermaritzburg  |  animals

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