PEEL Zoo owners have launched a scathing attack on the Department of Parks and Wildlife after they were told they were not allowed to have sugar gliders or squirrel gliders in mobile displays.
The gliders were part of Zoo2U, where animals are taken to functions and events.
In an email to politicians and the media, David Cobbold and Narelle MacPherson said their efforts were “continually thwarted” by the department.
“They jeopardise the valuable contribution we make to conservation and education,” Mr Cobbold and Ms MacPherson wrote in the email.
“They are counter-productive.”
Mr Cobbold said the department should not be making decisions on what animals they could display, because they were business adversaries.
He said the department’s wildlife display and education program Nearer to Nature was in competition with Zoo2U.
The zoo owners described the department as inept and fostering a ‘can’t do’ culture.
They claimed officers were scared of making decisions for fear the department may be held accountable.
In the email correspondence, Mr Cobbold and Ms MacPherson claim most of the department’s findings on gliders were unsubstantiated.
They accused an officer of using “cut and paste material” from Wikipedia.
According to the department, squirrel gliders do not naturally occur in WA and there was a low educational value associated with displaying gliders.
However, Mr Cobbold said conservation was a global issue and not terminated by boundaries.
He said the zoo’s Tasmanian Devils taught young people about endangered animals, but they were not native to WA.
Another reason cited by the department was negative welfare impacts associated with using nocturnal animals for diurnal mobile displays (where nocturnal conditions could not be recreated).
The department also said there were risks to the biodiversity and environment of WA, should the gliders escape and become established in WA.
The department has been contacted for comment.