Bunny Park volunteers locked out by the metro

Tania Forrest-Smith, committee member of the Ward 27 environmental portfolio and founder of the Save the Bunny Park Animals group, said her group was locked out of the park on June 12, reports the Benoni City Times.

She went to the park to feed the animals but found new locks on the gates to the facility.

According to Themba Gadebe, Ekurhuleni metro spokesperson, the park will be closed to almost everyone, including the volunteers, until the revamp is finished.

“From now until the end of the construction in the park, only the veterinarians and SPCA officials will be allowed into the park on appointment,” Gadebe said.

“The city’s employees who work at the park will be allowed in.”

Gadebe said this is due to the park being declared a construction site, where safety regulations dictate it must be clear while work continues.

The metro was asked why the volunteers were allowed into the park after construction started on March 1, but are prohibited now.

No comment regarding this was forthcoming on June 15.

Phase Two of the revamp project will end on June 30, next year. The metro did not say whether there will be a third phase, or whether the park would be opened after Phase Two. Forrest-Smith said a letter was sent to the metro regarding the lockout, but no response was received.

“Why was this not a problem before? Why could we go in till now?” she asked.

All the animals were moved from the park by mid-May; only the bunnies and several birds are left.

Sterilisations

Furthermore, Forrest-Smith said bunnies with mange are being sterilised along with healthy ones.

Her group first noticed this in May.

Around 850 bunnies were sterilised and put up for adoption by the metro since March, with an additional 350 being adopted via Forrest-Smith and her group.

Gadebe said: “The city has appointed two veterinarians to help with sterilising the bunnies from the park.”

“After examining them, the veterinarians euthanise the sick bunnies and sterilise those that are healthy.

“The bunnies that are sterilised are put up for adoption to the public.

“The City of Ekurhuleni received no complaint or report about sick rabbits since the day the volunteers alleged that they found the sick rabbits amongst the sterilised rabbits.”

Gadebe also said the bunnies are fed each morning.

This was contested by Forrest-Smith, who said the bunnies are fed daily in selected areas, but not in others.

“We will continue feeding the bunnies, by throwing the food over the park’s fence, but we can’t get to the colonies further in,” she said.

Adoptions

“And now we’re in a desperate situation, where we have to turn people away who want to adopt.

“The court order last year made me responsible for the bunny adoptions.”

Forrest-Smith said the adoptions would stop, as her group was no longer allowed into the park.

Gadebe said anyone who wants to adopt a bunny should fill in an adoption form obtained from Jaco Burger, the metro’s project manager for parks and cemeteries, via [email protected]

“Members of the public who are willing to donate food for the bunnies during this time may leave their donations with the park’s caretaker at the gate,” Gadebe said.

To donate food to the Save the Bunny Park Animals group, contact Forrest-Smith on 084 601 1061 (WhatsApp only).

Caxton News Service

Read original story on benonicitytimes.co.za

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