Final zoo regulations to be presented in cabinet ‘in coming weeks’, says parliamentary secretary

Parliamentary Secretary Alicia Bugeja Said defended government's work on animal welfare as she wanted to address a protest held outside parliament that called for her removal

A final proposal to amend zoo legislation is set to be presented to cabinet in the coming weeks, according to parliamentary secretary Alicia Bugeja Said.

Speaking in parliament on Tuesday, Bugeja Said that the new zoo regulations will soon be presented to cabinet, after which it is expected to be discussed in parliament and made available to the relevant stakeholders.

“If everyone pulls the same rope, we’ll find a middle ground that accommodates all parties in the sector,” she said.

New zoo rules have been in limbo for months. Last February, Animal Rights Minister Anton Refalo said that the impact assessment on the new regulations had been finalised, but stopped short of giving a time frame as to when the reform could be published.

Indeed, in November last year, the same minister had said that the zoo impact assessment was set to be presented “in the coming weeks”.

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.

Bugeja Said defends work on animal welfare: 'The public doesn't often know about the work done'

Bugeja Said defended government’s work on animal welfare on Tuesday, insisting that a lot of work has been done behind the scenes over the years.

The parliamentary secretary said she wanted to address a protest held in front of parliament last week by animal rights advocates. The protest called for new legislation and a revamp of animal welfare services, while calling for Bugeja Said’s removal as the parliamentary secretary responsible for animal welfare.

“The public doesn’t often know about the work done in this area,” Bugeja Said commented. “We speak a lot about the economy, health and jobs - as we should - but I think this is an important sector that should be at the forefront of our agenda.”

She urged all those who attended last week’s protest to take part in a public consultation on the drafting of a National Animal Welfare Strategy. “This strategy will govern animal welfare for the coming eight years,” she pointed out.

Bugeja Said listed through years of work done by the Labour government on animal welfare. She noted how those found criminally guilty of animal cruelty could be banned from owning or living with pets, while government recently outlawed bestiality.