Zookeeper Anton Cutajar wants major 20,000sq.m extension to Siggiewi zoo

Anti-immigrant firebrand who picketed Black Lives Matters protest wants 20,000sq.m extension to his once-illegal zoo

Anton Cutajar
Anton Cutajar

The owner of the Noah’s Ark zoo in Siggiewi wants the green light for a 20,000sq.m extension that will also regularise an illegally-built masonry wall fencing the site.

Details of the master plan presented by owner Anton Cutajar in 2019 only appeared recently, after the Planning Authority started publishing the description of applications still at screening stage, partially reversing a controversial decision to delete details of these preliminary applications from its website. Plans related to these applications remain inaccessible. 

Screening applications are often altered drastically to address issues raised by the PA itself, and the request may never reach the full application stage. In this case the application has been in screening stage for over 18 months.

Cutajar, an anti-immigration firebrand who picketed a Black Lives Protest in Valletta, wants his zoo to extend into agricultural land for four fenced enclosures for his exotic animals.

He also wants to regularise five illegally-built enclosures which house Siberian tigers, black leopards, alpacas, wallabies and monkeys, each with a masonry stable, as well as a multipurpose hall, a farmhouse with pool, stores, restrooms and a parking area.

20,000sq.m site earmarked for zoo expansion in planning application
20,000sq.m site earmarked for zoo expansion in planning application

Indeed, the present zoo was developed illegally over 10,000sq.m of agricultural land and inside a disused quarry in Ta’ Bur ix-Xewk. But it was then regularised by the PA board in October 2017.

The zoo came to wider attention in June, when it announced the birth of two extremely rare white tiger cubs.

The Environment and Resources Authority (ERA) had objected to the original application, prophetically warning that it would create a precedent for further urban-built structures and uptake of agricultural land for unjustified uses.

It said the zoo would “contribute to the over-development of the site with adverse, cumulative environmental impacts, including the further encroachment, proliferation and scattering of new buildings and structures, which could have easily been located within designated urban areas.”

Cutajar’s application was approved against a fine of €50,000, but after Cutajar complained, claiming his zoo served a therapeutic function, this ‘planning gain’ was mercifully converted into an agreement for free school visits.

The PA had already refused permission back in 2010 to sanction stables on the site, because it would have resulted in unnecessary urban sprawl and visual intrusion in the open countryside.

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