For the past few weeks, every newspaper has been talking about the illegal zoo at the Montekristo Estates owned by the Polidano Brothers. From legal notices to breaching of laws and regulations, it turns out that nothing has been done to stop this, even though the Veterinary Directorate has issued at least two warning letters due to the poor living conditions of the animals.
As Alternattiva Demokratika said to Times of Malta earlier in July, “Mepa rarely acts against the big fish”. Indeed, whoever has money has power; and as history has shown us, Polidano Group seems to have some sort of special appeal where the authorities conveniently turn a blind eye to all the issues or breaches.
The ironic part about this issue is that EVERYBODY knows that the zoo (let alone some of the structures within the premises) is illegal; so why are the authorities doing nothing to tackle this issue? We can all read the newspaper and see what has been going on, but what are are the authorities actually doing about this? Giving permission to hold the “Fiera l- Kbira” there and promoting the “zoo” as the main attraction? This certainly isn’t a step in the right direction.
When MEPA CEO Mr. Buttigieg said, “Some structures have been removed but one cannot expect development that has been carried out in the past 20 years to be removed in the space of a few days”, Times of Malta reacted by saying that, “if we’re going to build a power station in a couple of months, so surely, seven months were enough to pull those structures down. But evidently seven months were only enough to get a trading license.”
As an environmental organization, the thing that matters most is the well being of the animals. There is no legal documentation regarding the imported animals, so how did Polidano Group import the animals in the first place? And while everybody is going on about how they are being mistreated why don’t the authorities make the necessary arrangements so that the animals can be sent back to where they came from? I am sure that the animals prefer their natural habitat: the jungle. And by jungle I mean the natural jungle, not the concrete jungle the authorities have created over the past years. But unfortunately those with the power to act have been too busy saving face with the hunters and trappers to ensure that these poor animals are living in good conditions.
Some of the animals at the zoo include pumas, lynxes, Barbary macaques (monkeys), lemurs, a caracal, a lion and an ocelot.
Caracals, for example, are native to Africa and Asia where they can be free in the wild. Some might say that such wild cats can be found in zoos in America but clearly, they do not keep them in a five by five-metre “cage” … if that’s what it can even be called.
On a final note,since these animals are staying on the Maltese Islands, the least the owners could do is provide an almost-ideal habitat for them. Even though building illegal structures and imprisoning animals illegally is our current reality, an effort can still be made in arranging the place so that our furry friends could have better living conditions whilst stuck in a bureaucratic jam.