“All our animals are in perfect health, in order of detention and in order of health status with the FASFC. These are species from farms around the world. They are therefore not wild animals such as we can find in zoos.”, says Benoit Vandenbegrhe. “Last May, we received a letter from the SPW stating that, following a decree from the Walloon government dating from 2018, of which we were not aware, our small animal park is not regulated and that we must take the necessary steps to to obtain “zoological park” approval, despite our agricultural status and our recognition as a “tourist attraction in Wallonia””.
This administrative procedure, presented as a formality, was to require the filing of an application for a “class 2” environmental permit and, at the same time, the application for zoological park approval. “We have therefore done what is necessary to obtain the environmental permit that we have on November 14th. This license authorizes us to do everything we already do as well as to keep all our animals and some additional species to come. ”
However, according to this decree of 2018, in order to be able to welcome the public, Benoit and his companion Charlotte had to obtain zoological park approval. “Our application for approval is submitted at the beginning of August and a control visit takes place at the beginning of October by a veterinary inspector and his assistant. During this visit, we understand that Charlotte and I do not have the same interpretation of the standards and the law as these two inspectors, which is not very favorable to our request for approval.“, continues Benoit. “However, these two people show us a certain flexibility because they consider our arguments quite relevant and they are also in the process of revising the standards. What was our amazement when we read the control report that reached us on November 25, a report in which we are literally “taken down” by these two officials of the SPW animal welfare! They went so far as to express doubts about our ability for Charlotte and me to properly take care of our animals. ”
These remarks are considered blasphemous and unacceptable for the couple. “For 10 years we have kept our establishment in a perfect state of maintenance. Our animals are also very healthy and beautiful. These are remarks that often come back to us from our visitors: “your animals are beautiful; we can see that they are good! ” or “your animals have large plots”, “it is very clean; it’s very well maintained” and… You can read all these reviews left by our visitors on “google reviews”. ”
Other points of disagreement pitted the owners against the SPW agents. “According to these animal welfare experts, bringing our animals into their spacious indoor enclosures in winter is contrary to their well-being and to the very principle of the zoo. According to them, the animals must have access to their outdoor enclosures all year round and at all times. This is a point we discussed extensively during their visit on October 12. Indeed, we bring our animals home from the beginning of December to mid-February for their well-being. Indeed, La Ligule is located on the Hainaut plateau on loamy soils and a clayey subsoil. This type of soil has the disadvantage of becoming waterlogged in winter during heavy rainfall because plant activity is at a standstill and there is therefore no more evapotranspiration. Therefore, although our animals have large outdoor enclosures, leaving them outside all year round will eventually cause the complete destruction of the plant cover and the plot will turn into a huge field of slush. From my point of view as a specialist in ecology and the environment with my cap as a landscape architect and from my point of view as a farmer respectful of my animals, this is therefore contrary to the well-being of our animals because it eventually cause foot problems and parasites? It is also contrary to the good presentation of the animals for the visitor in a clean and healthy environment and contrary to respect for the environment and the preservation of the soil because it causes a complete destruction of the plant cover and all the fauna necessary for the biological environment of the enclosure for the production of grass and the good balance of the ecosystem of the park”, reports Benoit before concluding.
“We are aware that keeping animals imposes rules for their well-being, but we believe that we largely satisfy the well-being of our animals because they are well cared for with appropriate food, daily care, veterinary monitoring, shelters in their outdoor enclosures and spacious indoor and outdoor enclosures. The size of our enclosures is also much greater than the minimum sizes required in the “zoological park” standards, which shows how much the well-being of our animals is at the center of our concerns! The “zoological park” compliance would generate a financial investment such that we would have to ask you for an entrance fee of more than 10€/person while expressing reservations about the well-being of our animals during the winter period. No doubt, these laws and these rules are made by bureaucrats with a cruel lack of reality on the ground! ”, he concludes. Faced with this situation, the owners asked the SPW animal welfare to review its position.
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La Ligule animal park in Mignault at an impasse since the visit of the SPW to its establishment
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