By Gloria Seow, Education Group Chairperson
Photos by Gloria Seow and Benjamin Ho
ACRES (Animal Concerns Research & Education Society) Wildlife Rescue Centre hosted the Education Group on 5 June 2010 with 20 odd kids and their parents descending upon this facility dedicated to rescuing animals in distress as well as from the illegal wildlife trade.
Amy Corrigan introduced the rescued animals in the ACRES Wildlife Rescue Centre through videos and photos.
We began with an illuminating presentation given by its Director of Education and Cruelty-Free Living, Amy Corrigan. She introduced the kids to the denizens of the centre through videos and photos, where each rescued animal had names like ‘Blue’ and ‘Tinytot’. It was heart rending to learn about the sorry state of some of these confiscated or abandoned pets when they first arrived at ACRES. For example, one of the star tortoises (an illegal pet) was found severely malnourished, evidenced by the many ulcers in its mouth and having a carapace (shell) that was clearly misshapened due to poor nutrition.
Charlene Tan shared about the many activities of ACRES in a tour of its facilities.
One sure reason for not keeping exotic animals is that most folks do not know what to feed them with, and end up starving these poor creatures of vital vitamins and minerals. Another good reason for not buying such pets has to do with their means of arrival in Singapore. Considered as illegal under CITES convention (due to their rarity in the wild), these animals are typically smuggled in, crammed together in poorly-ventilated hidden places like false compartments, as part of a legal shipment of allowable pets. For example, snakes are stuffed into socks, tortoises are stacked like so many sardines in a box, and birds are slotted into narrow pipes with their beaks taped. The death rates are high. For the one animal that survives, many more die. By any humane standards, such cruelty cannot be condoned.
Armed with worksheets, we walked around the gardens to learn about Singapore’s native wildlife.
Amy also shared videos of the rehabilitated animals, now living in happy environments with plenty of toys and interesting terrain to engage them. ACRES staff and volunteers regularly clean their pens and play with them, while a staff vet takes care of their nutrition and health. Amy exhorted all present to call the ACRES wildlife rescue hotline (Tel: 9783-7782) if we come across any animals in distress.
One of the many artistic information boards found here.
We then toured the premises to have a feel of its operations and to view its many educational exhibits. Thereafter, the kids were given worksheets that required them to search for ‘local wildlife’ (realistic-looking art pieces with accompanying information boards) scattered in the garden, to learn about their ecology, behaviour and other traits. The children also did artwork such as colouring animal masks and other drawings. For many, the visit was an eye-opening one as to the ugly reality and repercussions of the illegal wildlife trade, as well as the good work that ACRES has been doing.