News / South Africa / Local News

Erik van Dijk
2 minute read
4 Jul 2017
9:21 am

Split verdict in Bunny Park case

Erik van Dijk

The High Court ruled the metro was not in contempt of court, but did not entirely fulfill their side of the settlement reached between the parties last year.

Bunny

Judge, N Davis, granted some requests made by both parties while rejecting others concerning the debacle at Bunny Park in Ekurhuleni, Benoni City Times reports.

The metro will now have to appoint more veterinarians to sterilise the bunnies, feed the animals in the park, separate unhealthy bunnies from healthy ones and must treat the bunnies – all at their own cost.

“It was not appropriate for the Ekhurhuleni Metropolitan Municipality (EMM) to wait for the applicant (interest groups) to go to court. If they knew they were not going to fulfill their obligations agreed upon in the previous settlement, they should have taken the initiative and approached the court for leniency, which they did not do,” Davis said.

Judgement on the metro

Despite this, the judge found the metro was not in contempt of court as evidence did not show they deliberately failed to follow the court order.

He acknowledged the challenges of the EMM, including the cost of sterilising all the bunnies in the facility, as it costs R350 to sterilise one bunny and estimates suggest there may be as many as 4 000 in the park.

READ MORE: Bunny Park interest groups believe Ekurhuleni metro in contempt of court

“Although EMM said a local authority has other obligations which require the use of taxpayers’ money and cannot sterilise all the bunnies, they did not provide evidence for this claim,” Davis said.

He said in a country where the lack of housing and the plight of the poor should be addressed, one would rather have the funds be utilised for humans and not for animals. However, this does not trivialise animal rights, he said. He concluded the metro should bear the costs of sterilising the bunnies and should appoint additional veterinarians to assist in the task. Davis also said the metro must isolate unhealthy animals from the healthy ones, until they have been medically treated and/or humanely euthanised “where a suitably qualified professional determines that medical treatment would be futile”.

Animal neglect

Davis said accusations of animal neglect at the park were unfounded as the state veterinarian and the SPCA found no clear signs to support the claim.

However, Vicky Finnemore, Benoni SPCA manager, said on Monday that although feeding doesn’t seem to be problematic at the park, the diseased bunnies – especially those with mange – form a big problem.

“We used to go to the park for inspections about twice a month, but for the past two weeks we’ve been going about three to four times a week. We go to check that feeding is done correctly and we check the health of the bunnies. We take those that can’t be treated and euthanise them, but capturing the bunnies is an issue,” said Finnemore.

She said the breeding speed of the bunnies is the source of most of the problems.

READ MORE

Bunny Park interest groups believe Ekurhuleni metro in contempt of court

– Caxton News Service

For more news your way, follow The Citizen on Facebook and Twitter