Belvedere, Sint Maarten — Concerned citizens and organizations tasked with both the welfare of animals and of conservation management on Sint Maarten have asked clarity regarding permits and Government’s position regarding the situation which has developed at the so-called “Iguana Park”. Organizations are concerned regarding cases of animal abuse and neglect at the attraction.
“We have noticed what are according to us several violations of animal husbandry components and of poor quality animal care at the Iguana Park. The animals are showing stress in dirty, confined steel cages, lacking any kind of healthy stimulation, proper nutrition, or access to veterinary care,” read a press statement regarding the situation.
Organizations tasked with animal welfare and environmental protection are urging Government to provide information and clarity on the subject: “Considering that it is essential that transparency and cooperation exist between the various governmental entities and accredited organizations for the crucial protection of our fragile borders, wildlife, and environment, there are pertinent questions regarding the operation as it stands in terms of animal husbandry:
1) Was there a notice in the media allowing the public to protest this permit request, and if so, where and on which date did it appear?
2) Is there a certificate of good health available from a registered veterinarian about the monkey, raccoons, boa constrictor and various tropical birds anywhere reported?
3) Is there a suitable hurricane contingency plan for the park?
4) Is there government water and current at the site?
5) Were transportation regulations followed for import of animals and birds to the park?
6) Did the import of specimens occur in adherence to the Convention on Trade in Endangered Species?
7) Did the necessary due diligence take place as it relates to the Nature Conservation Ordinance AB 2013?
- Has the VROMI Ministry inventoried species according to their potential for invasiveness and have the enclosures been sufficiently scrutinized for their security?
9) In short: has anyone with professional competence evaluated the general suitability
of the Iguana Park as an attraction?
In view of their concerns, organizations have asked Government for assistance and have delivered an official letter asking for clarity but have not yet received any response. “Since June of last year requests for governmental assistance and cooperation regarding Iguana Park’s negligence toward their humane responsibilities have gone without response. In today’s hostile global environment with climate changes and threats of global terrorism, our borders need good governance and respect for the rule of law, pillars of democracy that keep a community and land safe,” read a statement.
Organizations and concerned citizens continued by stating that they respectfully now request an urgent investigation into the issuance of the permits for the Iguana Park; “The issuance of such permits, conformity with statutory guidelines and stipulating conditions must comply with all official requirements. Legal procedures need to be followed; no one should be exempt from respecting the laws of the land. We sincerely hope you share our concerns. It is our further hope that the new government ministries are transparent and responsible in setting goals to seek and maintain the highest standards in health and environmental issues that affect our tourism product and the general population.”
The organizations have also started an online petition urging government to respond to their request, which can be found at https://www.change.org/p/government-of-st-maarten-vromi-ministry-urge-government-to-review-and-make-public-issues-regarding-iguana-park-st-maarten.
An online fundraiser was also started in order to raise funds for prossible legal procedings which may be needed in this case.
The public is urged to make a donation at https://www.generosity.com/animal-pet-fundraising/raise-legal-fees-to-halt-abuse-at-iguana-park/x/13332610.
“The real power lies in the will of the people and their collective effort in demanding changes in the status quo,” concluded the release.