SINGAPORE - A 74-year-old man was fined $10,000 by the Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority (AVA) for illegally importing a zebra dove and bringing unnecessary suffering and pain to it.
This is the first time that the maximum penalty for illegally importing animals or birds has been meted out, the agency said in a press release on Wednesday (Nov 8).
Lian Kin Ting had previously been fined $3,000 in 2009, for importing seven zebra doves without a licence.
The AVA had been alerted by Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) officers on Feb 1, to the bird found in a pouch beneath the driver's seat of a Singapore-registered car at Tuas Checkpoint.
Investigations revealed that it was imported without a valid licence. Without any food and water, it had experienced significant stress.
The Jurong Bird Park is currently taking care of it.
"Animals that are smuggled into Singapore are of unknown health status and may introduce diseases, such as bird flu, into the country," AVA explained.
Importing any creatures without a permit is illegal, and anyone found guilty can be fined up to $10,000, jailed up to a year, or both.
"Our borders are our first line of defence in safeguarding Singapore's safety and security. The security checks are critical to our nation's security," said the AVA.
It added in the press release that the ICA will continue security checks on passengers and vehicles at the checkpoints to prevent smuggling in of undesirable persons, drugs, weapons, explosives and other contrabands.
More information on bringing back animals from overseas can be found on the AVA's website, or on the agency's mobile app SG TravelKaki, which is available for free from the Apple App and Google Play stores.