Monday, 10 January 2000

This Noah needs a new home for his Ark

By: Chang Ai-Lien, The Straits Times

Safe for now, a tame iguana gets up close and personal with Mr Wee at the
Noah's Ark Lodge.
Mr Raymund Wee started Noah Ark's Lodge for homeless animals. Now, the
sanctuary faces tenancy problems and it is the animals which will suffer

   A MODERN-DAY Noah has given refuge to abandoned pets for the past seven
years, in the hope that he can teach others to care for all creatures great
and small.

   But now, Mr Raymund Wee's ark in Seletar West may sink, leaving hundreds of
homeless animals in its wake.

   Noah's Ark Lodge, which occupies 2 ha of lush greenery, is sanctuary to a
myriad of animals - 250 dogs, 200 cats, a pony, a swan, ducks, geese,
chickens, goats, monkeys and even rats.

   Its more exotic residents include a pair of slow lorises - small nocturnal
mammals; a cassowary - a large emu-like bird with a blue head; a civet cat, an
albino python and a ferret.

   These were given up by owners who realised they were not suitable as pets.

   Speaking to The Straits Times on Friday, Mr Wee said he had sublet the land
from another man, Mr Harry Quek, who was allocated the plot by the Primary
Production Department (PPD) through public tender.

   Mr Quek's tenancy agreement expires next month, and he did not renew it, so
Mr Wee wrote to the PPD asking if he could continue renting the plot.

   The PPD rejected his request, saying that Mr Quek would have to "surrender
the land in vacant possession back to the Government" when the agreement

   Said Mr Wee: "All I want to do is help the animals and educate people about
them. But it's getting so difficult for me to continue doing so."

   At his wit's end, he started a petition for an extension on the lease to stop
the shelter from being closed down.

   The PPD said on Friday that the piece of land was allocated by public tender
to Mr Quek for the breeding and training of dogs. Under the agreement, Mr Quek
had agreed not to sublet the land at any time, it added.

   "If it has been sublet to Mr Wee or used as an animal shelter, we will
investigate and take the necessary action," said a PPD spokesman.

   He added: "Since Mr Quek has said he will not be renewing his tenancy, then
Mr Wee must tender for it like any other person.

   "After the tenancy expires, the land will be allocated to the person with the
best tender offer, if it is not slated for redevelopment."

   Mr Quek, 52, a corporate trainer, declined to be interviewed.

   Mr Wee, who says he will tender for the land, said: "If we have to shut down,
where will the animals go? They'll have to be put down."

Source: The Straits Times
Date: 10 January 2000

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