Forum: Mandated animal welfare guidelines needed

I refer to a letter suggesting that the turtle museum should work with the Animal Concerns Research and Education Society (Acres) to improve the living conditions of its animals (Pay attention to design of new turtle museum, Feb 20).

While it was a well-intentioned suggestion, there are more experienced people in the field of reptile husbandry who should be shaping standards, especially staff from zoological institutions who have been accredited by zoological associations.

The knowledge of how an animal should live naturally in outdoor settings does not always translate to the same knowledge of how husbandry should be indoors.

For example, red-ear slider terrapins have commonly been bred in outdoor settings with exposure to natural sunlight. Welfare guidelines for this commonly sold species have largely been inadequate though, with many pet stores failing to promote the important aspects of lighting for these turtles.

The ultimate responsibility of improving welfare guidelines for animals – especially reptiles – lies mainly with the authorities, so animal-related industries can be made to comply with and improve standards. There has been much progress in husbandry over the years and welfare regulations should continually keep up with such information.

This not only improves the lives of animals being kept, but can also make it possible for other species thought of as hard to keep to be considered suitable pets.

Ong Junkai

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