Cage fight

January 12, 2018

A local woman has launched an 11th hour bid to stop the Waring Gardens peacock enclosure from being removed.

Suzy Keys is pleading with local people to make a submission to Edward River Council today in order to save the popular Deni landmark.

At the time of going to print yesterday, Ms Keys had collected more than 150 signatures on her petition in a couple of days, which was spurred on when she heard that council had received very few submissions regarding the issue.

Council informed the public last year that in order to keep the peacocks the enclosure would require a costly upgrade, as well as ongoing costs associated with its upkeep. This was prompted after a petition was handed to council raising animal welfare concerns.

The community consultation period closes today at 2.45pm.

Ms Keys’ request this week to get an extension on the submission period was rejected by council.

‘‘I often hear locals bemoan the fact that historic buildings such as the old bluestone jail should never have been knocked down. As an historian I don’t want to see this happen again in Waring Gardens,’’ she said.

‘‘It’s often easier for councils to knock buildings down, rather than come up with innovative solutions to problems. In this case it’s a question of money and new rules and regulations.

‘‘It’s also a symptom of ‘future shock’ where the increasing pace of change is being forced upon communities without their input. It’s getting harder and harder to adapt, so keeping things like the aviary and the peacocks is a way of dealing with these 21st Century phenomena.

‘‘Many people would like to see the aviary and peacocks stay, however they would also like to see improvements to the birds’ environment. I agree with this idea.

‘‘It gives council and the community who are paying for it an opportunity to come up with something that will differentiate our town from all the others.’’

Council has estimated the necessary upgrades to the enclosure will cost about $30,000.

Its costings also indicate feed for the enclosure will increase from $6000 a year to $10,000, and that at least two staff will be required to obtain a Certificate III in Captive Animals with the minimum cost for the training being $8580.

An investigation into the enclosure was started in 2016, when a complaint led to a site visit from a NSW Department of Primary Industry’s animal welfare officer.

The officer advised the enclosure be screened off from public view until the standards required could be met.

A petition against keeping caged animals in the gardens was also received by council, signed by about 150 people.

Ms Keys admitted she was one of the original signatories on the anti-caged animals petition, but said she was not as well informed as she should have been when she signed.

She said she has since visited the peacock aviary many times, and researched its introduction in 1968, and it has ‘‘changed my mind’’.

‘‘There are always people visiting the Waring Gardens aviary, with and without children,’’ she said.

‘‘The peacocks often put on a display of their magnificent tail feathers and come over to see the visitors. They are absolutely fabulous.

‘‘The peacocks often put on a display of their magnificent tail feathers and come over to see the visitors. They are absolutely fabulous.

‘‘After visiting Dayelsford’s Lake Jubilee peacocks and speaking to the manager there, and other wildlife parks, I think it would be a terrible mistake for council to throw the peacocks out with the aviary.’’

Ms Keys has dedicated much of this week to gaining signatures to keep the peacocks and aviary, and is circulating a petition.

She said it’s to accommodate those members of the community who were either unaware of the imminent removal or the online petition to save it, which has also been given to council.

‘‘My petition was started on Tuesday afternoon.’’

To meet council’s submission deadline today, all the hardcopy petitions will be collected at midday to be delivered to council.

Ms Keys said the petition can be signed between 9am and midday today at The Hair Studio in Napier St, or from 10am to midday at either of Deniliquin’s supermarkets.

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