Sunday, 30 July 2000

New place seems ideal for animals

By Yeoh En-Lai, The Straits Times

A NEW place, a new beginning and it is just off the beaten track.

   After moving a big number of animals out of Singapore, Mr Raymund Wee, who
runs Noah's Ark Natural Animal Sanctuary, has sworn that he will not return
with the menagerie.

   He has cleared a 10-ha plot in Pekan Nanas, Johor, and built kennels, as well
as a home for himself, in the past two months. He said: "I don't want to even
try to go back."

   Back to Singapore, that is.

   The 51-year-old former airline steward said he had spent about $60,000 on the
new sanctuary. The land was given to him by a Singapore businessman.

   The Agri-food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) of Singapore placed a
public-tender notice on Friday for two plots of land in Loyang, which could
have become a site for Mr Wee's animal sanctuary.

   He did not want to bid.

   The new sanctuary, a half-hour drive from the Tuas checkpoint, is taking

   The road to the sanctuary is an untarred and narrow, with a few bumps.

   What had been thick undergrowth two months ago is now cleared land. A new
well has been dug to supply fresh water.

   But it seems to be ideal for the animals.

   The cats and dogs have bigger kennels. The goats and Melody, the pony, have
more space to run around in.

   A pond is being dug at the far end while a stream, which separates the dogs
and cats, divides the plot.

   Mr Wee described his ambitious plans.

   "I plan to build a few chalets so that owners can spend time with their pets
here. Then, I may conduct eco-tourism tours for youngsters," he said.

   He has bought books which he hopes will help him set up a herb garden.

   Without a full-time vet and no real income yet, it is hardly paradise.

   "I'm not a vet but I've learnt a lot over the years," he said. "I can say
that I know around 80 per cent of what a vet is supposed to know about animal

   The AVA has granted him export permits for 140 cats, 80 dogs, one pony, 12
goats, 25 rabbits, 20 ducks, 20 chickens and five peacocks. An albino python
and some birds also seemed to be residing happily there.

   Mr Wee said: "At least, I still have a place where stray and unwanted animals
can die with dignity."

   TWO months of hard work have gone into the battle to build the new Noah's Ark
Sanctuary, before the old Seletar West site shuts down today. Now, a new ark
is starting to emerge on a 10-ha piece of jungle in Johor. The past few weeks
have been a trying for Noah's Ark Lodge operator Raymund Wee as he has been
busy moving the more than 300 animals over to Johor. Standing in front of the
half-drained pond in Seletar, he claims he will not return to Singapore with
his animals.

   At the new site in Pekan Nanas, the dogs have newer, larger kennels and more
room to roam when they are let out.

Source: The Straits Times
Date: 30 July 2000

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