New Taiwan law seeks to safeguard rights of performing animals

New Taiwan law seeks to safeguard rights of performing animals
An injured hippo named “Ah-he” lies on the street after jumping off from a truck in Miaoli county, December 26, 2014.
PHOTO: Reuters

TAIPEI, Taiwan - The new Performing Animal Industry Management Act has been published and is set to come into force this month or in September.

The tragedy of A-he, a hippopotamus that died from injuries this January after leaping from a moving truck on its way to a private zoo, caused much focus and the rights of performing animals and activists began pressing for their rights to be extended.

According to Chiang Wen-chuan head of the Animal Protection Division of the Council of Agriculture's (COA) Department of Animal Industry, the act completed the necessary procedures in July and will come into force in August or September.

The new regulation caused backlashes in the industry, with many criticizing the rise in the security deposit from NT$300,000 (S$12,999) to NT$5 million, which would be put in use for abandoned animals in case a company suspends operations. The COA said that the human resources agencies need to pay a security deposit for foreign employee referrals in the fishing industry and the fee will also apply to businesses in the performing animal industry.

Chiang also said that Taipei Zoo, Hualien Farglory Ocean Park, Leofoo Village Theme Park and several other private and public institutes that involve animal performances took part in consultations while the act was being drafted.

Several animal protection organizations also participated in the discussions, among them, Taiwan Animal Association (TAEA), which proposed incorporating periodical assessments of companies using performing animals. The COA has suggested having on-site evaluations performed by animal welfare officers. Companies' annual self-evaluation reports also need to have the endorsement of veterinarian, livestock technician or aquaculture technician. The periodical evaluations are likely to be held once every two years, said Chiang.

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