Animal Welfare Commissioner hopeful, not confident zoo cub petting will be banned

Alison Bezzina acknowledges strong forces are in play opposing the ban, says she will not stop fighting for the ban to go through

Alison Bezzina, Commissioner for Animal Welfare
Alison Bezzina, Commissioner for Animal Welfare

Animal Welfare Commissioner Alison Bezzina is hopeful but not confident that cub petting at zoos will be banned, once an impact assessment is published by the Animal Rights Ministry.

In 2020, government proposed the prohibition of big-cat cub petting at zoos in a White Paper, but relinquished it just 24 hours later following outrage by zookeeper and known Labour adherent Anton Cutajar. Zoo regulations have so far remained the same despite the White Paper proposals.

Bezzina confirmed her support for the ban but says there are strong forces in play against it.

"The change in the draft bill that happened overnight indicates that strong forces are at play in this regard. What’s for sure is that if it does not go through this time, I will not stop fighting until it does (or die trying)," Bezzina remarked

Last November in parliament, Animal Rights Minister Anton Refalo confirmed that an impact assessment over amendments to the zoos regulations in Malta was being carried out and was meant to be presented in weeks.

Bezzina confirmed in her 2021 end-of-year report she was contacted by the impact assessment company in December, but remarked she is unaware of the progress made.

Questions sent to the Animal Rights Ministry have so far remained unanswered.