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leftrightMonday, June 9, 2008
We are working together with a group of Youth Environmental Guardians(YEGs) in our school to promote Shoo Mozzie to raise funds for ACRES which stands for Animal Concerns Research & Education Society.

This is part of the YEGs project for the Citibank-YMCA Youth For Causes programme. This year, a new dimension has been added to the programme:- (a) Encouraging projects which promotes sustainable development, e.g. projects that helps Non Profit Organisations which are supporting environmental causes.

Here is an article from the Straits Time about the founder of ACRES.


June 8, 2008
Acres gets Law Minister's thumbs up
By Shobana Kesava

WHEN Mr Louis Ng set up a welfare group here to improve the lot of wild animals, he was labelled a fanatic.

Some thought he had a screw loose.
Seven years later, he is no longer a voice in the wilderness.

Acres, short for Animal Concerns Research & Education Society, has 12,000 volunteers and donors, Government funding and - this is crucial - status as an institution of public character, which allows donations to it to be tax-exempt.
Mr Ng, 29, said: 'I was always told, 'You're a small fry' and 'You can't change big organisations'.'

He has not only made the authorities sit up and take notice, he now works with them to nab those in the illegal wildlife trade.

Acres is also building a shelter in Sungei Tengah big enough to house and give medical treatment to at least 400 animals; it even works with other animal welfare groups to give out grants to students for their own animal-protection projects.

His secret: Perseverance.

A baby chimpanzee named Rhamba started it all for him in 2000.
Then a 21-year-old volunteer photographer for the zoo, he said he saw a keeper punch Rhamba in the face to discipline it.

He said: 'She ran to me and hugged me. I knew then that I had to speak on her behalf.'

He tipped off The Straits Times, which reported the incident and started a groundswell of support from animal lovers who successfully campaigned for Rhamba to be returned to her family.

The zoo denied this was a problem, but following the media publicity, it stopped isolating baby chimps from their families.

Adding that zookeepers have come a long way since then, Mr Ng still considers the episode 'the best thing that happened in my life'.

Inspired to do more for animals, he and eight friends started what would become Singapore's first wildlife protection agency, scraping together less than $1,000 in combined savings.

The National University of Singapore-trained biologist was then doing his masters in primate conservation part time with the Oxford Brookes University in Britain, but through sheer will and support from friends, he got Acres up and running on a shoestring in 2001.

He and his team began by fanning out to give talks in schools. Public education is on-going.

In the past seven years, Mr Ng estimated, Acres has reached out to over 200,000 people about animal abuse and how animals can be better protected.
The group's efforts here have so impressed Law Minister K. Shanmugam that he agreed - on short notice - to speak at Acres' seventh anniversary celebrations last month.

And here is the article published on January 28 2001 about the outcome of Mr Louis's action.

Zoo's 'snapshot' chimps now run free
Singapore Zoo ends confinement of trained chimpanzees on the back of criticism by animal-welfare groups
By Eunice Lau

THE days of being caged in are over for Poko, Gombe and Rhamba - Singapore Zoo's young chimpanzees, which pose daily for photographs with visitors.
The zoo decided to end their confinement following an outcry by the International Primate Protection League (IPPL) and the World Society for the Protection of Animals.

The three - aged between 1 1/2 and four years - are in a long line of chimpanzees which have helped popularise animal photography at the zoo for more than 15 years. Poko, Gombe and Rhamba were taken away from their mothers at birth and raised by the keepers. They were kept apart from the other chimpanzees, which lived in an open enclosure.

After being trained to pose with visitors, they were kept in cages so that it was easier to produce them for photography.

They were integrated with the rest of the chimpanzees shortly after The Sunday

Times reported in November last year on the animal-welfare groups' attack on the caging of the trained chimpanzees.

Frolicking in the sun: Rhamba, trained from young to pose with visitors, is no longer caged and is now reunited with mother Suzy (above left) and the other chimpanzees. -- THOMAS WHITE

This was revealed by Mr Bernard Harrison, chief executive officer of Wildlife Reserves, during a visit last Sunday to the zoo by an IPPL director, Mrs Dianne Taylor-Snow.

'We are very open to what the animal-welfare groups have said,' he said. 'Animal welfare is the overriding deciding factor.'
He said the young chimpanzees would not be separated from the rest of the herd again.
So far, the three have responded well to the changes and have been accepted by the other chimpanzees.

The Sunday Times saw them rolling on the grass and frolicking with other chimpanzees under the sun.

The keepers do not have any problem retrieving them from the group for their photography sessions, which continue as usual.

The zoo has also decided to immunise all young chimpanzees against common human diseases and asked keepers to explain to visitors the need for conservation.

Mrs Taylor-Snow, an American, was happy: 'We will continue to monitor the situation, but we are pleased with the changes.'

Conservationist Louis Ng, 22, who blew the whistle on the practice of caging the chimpanzees after witnessing a keeper allegedly abusing Rhamba, said the fight was worth it.

'I wanted to improve the conditions for the animals. Maybe I did it the wrong way, but that should not be the issue now.

'After seeing Poko, Gombe and Rhamba run in the open enclosure, I feel I've done something good.'

P.S.

ON April 5, 2004 Rhamba, the Singapore Zoo’s celebrity chimpanzee, died during a failed escape attempt. She climbed over the electric barriers and was shot by a tranquillizer dart gun. But she still managed to run straight into a reservoir and drowned before the keepers could save her.

This is what the New Paper reported on the 9th April 2004.

Animal welfare activist Louis Ng had got to know the chimpanzee when he was a volunteer in 2000.

He launched his first campaign to pressure the zoo to stop photo-taking with the chimps, claiming that he saw Rhamba being punched in the face to make her behave.

He went on to set up the Animal Concerns Research and Education Society.
Responding to Rhamba's death, Mr Ng said: 'To say that I am devastated is an understatement.

'I remember the times she would come and hug me, seeking comfort when times were hard.

'I would not be fighting for the rights of animals if not for her.'


This is the newspaper report from Nov 7, 2000 which started the ball rolling for ACRES.
Outcry, so young chimps will get a bigger cage

BECAUSE of the outcry by animal-rights groups, Poko, Rhamba and Gombe - the three young chimpanzees trained to pose with visitors daily - will be getting a bigger cage.

Mr Harrison said that although the cage in which they live is by no means 'squalid and small' - it measures 2 m by 2 m by 3 m - the zoo will be building a bigger one.


Unlike the open closure of the other chimps, Gombe (above), Poko and Rhamba are caged up so keepers can produce them for photo sessions. -- ALAN LIM


'To be honest, it is in relation to what has been going on,' he said.
The three chimpanzees, raised by their keepers from young, have been kept apart from the rest of the chimpanzees which live in an open enclosure.

They have been kept confined so that it is easier for the keepers to produce them for photography sessions.

When the issue of the zoo's practice of using apes for photography was raised briefly at the annual World Zoo Organisation conference last month, Mr Harrison had said that he would review the zoo's policy and the way it keeps its animals.

Question
What does the life of Rhamba got to do with climate change?

Plenty. To fight climate change is a long long journey. Louis's passion and his desire to fight for animal right is not a one night stand but a long term commitment.


[Mayflower] [8:09 PM]

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