Cape Town's Monkey Town centre refutes SPCA animal violation allegations

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The cockatoo using the food enrichment provided to him at Monkey Town
The cockatoo using the food enrichment provided to him at Monkey Town
  • Cape Town's tourist attraction, Monkey Town has been issued with a warning by the SPCA.
  • The organisation said the centre was found to have violated 14 clauses of the Animal Protection Act.
  • Monkey Town has rubbished the allegations made against them.


Cape Town's tourist attraction, Monkey Town in Somerset West, has rubbished allegations made by the Cape of Good Hope SPCA after the organisation inspected the centre where they found 14 violations of the Animal Protection Act.

According to the SPCA, they had received an anonymous tip-off from the public, which resulted in them investigating the premises.

SPCA spokesperson Belinda Abraham told News24 their inspector Werner Taljaard together with Wildlife Officer Jon Friedman, had gone to the property last week and found 14 violations of the Animal Protection Act.

"Some of the violations are that not all the animals had access to potable drinking water. Potable drinking water must be provided for all animals. One of the donkey's hooves were severely overgrown and in poor condition. The donkey must be examined and treated by a farrier within 48 hours. The centre must provide a report to the SPCA within the given timeframe," said Abraham.

Animals
The female donkey at Monkey Town.
Photo Supplied


She also added that they observed mongoose lemurs 'scratching themselves excessively'. A veterinarian must examine these animals within 48 hours, and a report provided to the SPCA within the given timeframe.

"The substrate in the African pygmy hedgehog enclosure was found to be wet and odorous with fly larva (maggots) observed crawling inside the substrate. The enclosure must be cleaned on a regular basis, and the substrate must be replaced on a regular basis," added the SPCA.

"Brown capuchin monkeys do not have access to sufficient protection or shelter from heat, cold or weather. They must provide sufficient protection or shelter from heat, cold or weather must be provided within seven days," she said.

She also added that the enclosure in which the macaw parrots are housed is not adequate. The section lacks height and sufficient space for these birds to express natural flying behaviour.

food
The cockatoo using the food enrichment provided to him at Monkey Town
Photo Supplied

"The macaw parrots must be moved to another enclosure that affords adequate height and sufficient space within seven days," Abraham added. 

The owner of Monkey Town Rene Grobler, told News24 that their staff always accompany any inspectors on a visit through the park.

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Grobler said their manager was told by the SPCA inspectors on arrival last week that they, "... would like to walk through the park on their own."

"We were not allowed to speak to the inspectors during their visit."

Grobler said that when this was mentioned to the SPCA in writing afterwards, they were advised that, "... had your staff had the courtesy to accompany our inspectors, then they would have seen what the concerns were and could have taken their own photo and video evidence.

"How could we do that when they told us not to accompany them," he asked.

He added that as a rule, all their animals were provided with fresh drinking water twice a day. 

He said:

And [this happens] more often during the extreme heat of the past few days. We have old cement water ponds that have been discontinued for use in most enclosures. This has been the case for the last 12 years and has been evident with all previous SPCA inspections.

Grobler added that most of the animal's water is in stainless steel containers at the back of their enclosures, where it is in the shade the entire day. 

"To insinuate that our animals don't have water is false. The SPCA had taken pictures of an empty water pond when there is more freshwater meters away [that] is not fair, in our opinion. The enclosure they took a picture of has two water ponds, and the other was filled. We will be removing these cement ponds permanently to prevent the public and the SPCA from thinking that there should be water in them," he said.  

The animal centre said some of the animal's food and water was placed in their sleeping rooms at the back of their enclosures and is not visible to the public at all.

"We do agree with the SPCA that our female miniature donkey is overweight. We have had consultations with our vet since 2020 to address this issue. Our vet is coming for a visit on Monday to check on the health of our donkeys. Our farrier is also visiting on Saturday to attend to the hooves of the donkey," she said.

Grobler added that they had requested their farrier to have a set appointment to do the hooves every eight to 10 weeks in future.

Monkey Town
The closed pump house at Monkey Town.
Photo Supplied

"We had the State Veterinarian recently at our premises last year because we needed to be issued our Public Display License. We passed so many of these issues that the SPCA raised, yet we were issued our Public Display License, so we are very concerned as to why the SPCA has now logged these allegations against us," said Grobler.

Addressing the complaints that mongoose lemurs were scratching themselves excessively, he said: "We immediately made an appointment at [the] Cape Exotic Animal Hospital. They have come back to us saying there are no skin issues at all with our mongoose lemurs," Grobler added.

Discussing their pygmy hedgehogs Grobler said arrangements have been made for another wildlife centre to take them in.

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"We arranged this before the SPCA came to inspect the premises. The public is dropping them off with us as they are illegal to have as pets in the Western Cape. We are waiting on our Cape Nature permit to move them to the other centre."

Grobler added that some enclosures need attention, but would take time to restore. 

"We have had a tough two years just trying to survive Covid, and it will take us a very long time to recover financially. It must be noted; we did not receive one complaint from the SPCA that any of our animals were malnourished or underfed. We have been doing our utmost to provide our animals with the best care with our limited funds and will work hand-in-hand with the SPCA to solve all issues raised. We want to be treated fairly by them," added Grobler.

The SPCA has given the animal centre seven days to remedy the violations.

"We will be back at the centre next week for follow-ups. Should we not be satisfied with the conditions of the animals and their living spaces, charges of animal cruelty in terms of the Animal Protection Act No.71 of 1962 could be brought against them," said Abraham.

According to the SPCA, a guilty verdict could find the centre facing a fine of R40 000 or 12-months imprisonment, and being denied animal ownership for a period of time determined by a magistrate.

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