a couple of meerkats at Taronga Zoo Sydney. Photo: Contributed
a couple of meerkats at Taronga Zoo Sydney. Photo: Contributed contributed

Exotic breeds could come to Queensland zoos soon

WHILE meerkat clans became a worldwide sensation thanks to a much-loved TV documentary series, a politician trying to bring the adorable creatures to Queensland zoos was less captivating.

Agriculture and Fisheries Minister Bill Byrne introduced exhibited animals legislation he claimed would help zoos, theme parks, wildlife parks, circuses and magicians create more jobs.

He told Queensland Parliament his government would introduce interim measures that could result in meerkats, Patagonian mara, capybara, veiled chameleons or cape porcupines "coming to a zoo near you".

His parliamentary colleagues were less enthused.

"Liven it up," one shouted.

"The backbenchers are going to sleep," said another as the bill was sent to committee for consideration.

Mr Byrne said the bill would replace previous legislation, which he claimed was unnecessarily complex and made it tough for businesses to create jobs and grow the economy.

The Rockhampton MP also said there were gaps in animal welfare, pest and safety risks.

"Currently, Queensland zoos and film and television productions can only access exotic species that are listed in regulation," he said.

"They cannot access other species, even if the associated risks could be managed.

"Some species are not listed because they pose a very high pest establishment risk. But there are other species that are not listed simply for historical reasons.

"The result is that Queensland zoos have been unable to participate in captive breeding programs for some endangered exotic species simply because they are not listed.

"There are some other species, such as meerkats, that many Queenslanders would love to see and which are being kept in other states while our industry is left behind.

"It recently impacted on a particularly significant film production that created hundreds of jobs on the Gold Coast."


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