Wednesday, 19 January 2000

SOS - 35,000 petition to save the animals

By Hong Xinyi, The New Paper

Six years ago, Mr Raymund Wee started Noah's Ark Lodge, an animal shelter for unwanted animals. The lease for the land on which the shelter is built runs out next month. Animal lovers have rallied to keep the Ark going. HONG XINYI reports.


TWO weeks ago, very few people had even heard of Noah's Ark.

   But ever since the man who runs this shelter for animals, Mr Raymund Wee,
made public that the lease on the land will run out and won't be renewed,
animal lovers all over Singapore have put up a petition to save the Ark. And
since he went public, it has been hectic for Mr Wee and the group of
volunteers at Noah's Ark Lodge.

   At their weekly open house on Sunday about 3,000 people showed up, a sharp
rise from the usual 100 or so, said Mr Wee.

   Many people took their children to see the animals. The shelter is home to
some 250 dogs, 200 cats, a pony, ducks, geese, chickens, goats, monkeys, rats
and owls. Even more people have been petitioning on the internet for his
shelter to stay open.

   Volunteers at the shelter have begun listing the names to be presented to the
authorities soon. They feel such an overwhelming response might give them a
chance for their appeal to be heard.

  Said Ms Sandy Lim, 40, an art director and volunteer: "We have people calling
in, very upset, asking us what will happen to the animals. We actually have to
comfort them!"

   Ms Lim is optimistic about the future of Noah's Ark. 'I don't think it'll be
closing down. This is a worthy cause, good for society, good for the animals.

   Mr Wee, 51, however, is prepared. "If we have to close down, we will try to
relocate, and to find new homes for the animals."

   He added emphatically: "They will NOT be put to sleep."

   Something animal lovers will be glad to know.

   In 1987, the land at Seletar West on which Noah's Ark Lodge is built was
tendered out to corporate trainer Harry Quek to run a dog breeding and
kennelling business.

   The premises were later transformed into an animal sanctuary by Mr Raymund
Wee, who sublet the land from Mr Quek.

   Last December, Mr Quek informed the PPD he did not want to renew his tenancy,
and Mr Wee's appeals to the PPD to allow him to continue running the animal
sanctuary have so far been rejected.

   SHE has been busy visiting schools, bugging her friends and relatives to sign
the petition to keep the shelter open. So far, she has 50 names and the list
is still growing.

  "I'm sure I can get a lot more," said retired teacher and animal lover Ms
Molly King, 53.

   Ms King has visited Noah's Ark a few times since hearing about it in the
papers, and feels strongly about the issue.

   "What if proper homes cannot be found for all of them? Can PPD promise that
not a single one will be put to sleep?" she asked.

   Ms King is a member of the SPCA, which is helping PPD in re-housing the
animals at the animal shelter.

   "Noah's Ark has the space and the grounds for the animals, so why uproot
them?" she asked. "I feel very very sad and upset that such a nice place is
being forced to close down. The environment is very conducive, the animals are
free to roam, I feel so happy when I'm there. We are all praying that Raymund
can continue what he has been doing."

   PPD has said it is also concerned about the welfare of the animals at the
lodge and will work closely with SPCA to help the farm find new homes for the

   Mr Goh Shih Yong, PPD's Head of Public Affairs said: "The owner of the farm
could ask for an extension of the tenancy to have more time to re-house the

   "If Mr Wee wants to take over the farm, he can bid for it when it is put up
for tender, but any new tenancy will only be valid until Dec 31, 2002, after
which the land will be set aside for HDB's building programme.

   "Wild animals at the farm will be transferred to the Singapore Zoo. PPD will
monitor developments to ensure all animals are properly taken care of."

Source: The New Paper
Date: 19 January 2000

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