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Developing The Singapore Soul: ACRES And Animal Welfare

Louis Ng, Founder of ACRES recollects how ACRES was first started to combat animal killing and promote animal welfare.

Developing the Singapore Soul: ACRES and Animal Welfare

 

ACRES was set up after a young Louis Ng was appalled to discover a baby chimpanzee bleeding after being punished for misbehaving during chimp photography sessions and spoke up about it. There were no organisations in Singapore willing to speak up against this cruelty at the time, so he started his own. Today, ACRES is an 18,000 member-strong organisation focused on eradicating illegal wildlife trade and raising awareness on animal cruelty. It rescues, treats, rehabilitates, and returns to the natural habitat where possible, injured native wild animals or animals that have been found to be part of an illegal trade. It runs a Rescue Centre that provides a permanent sanctuary to the animals that cannot be returned to their country of origin.

 

In this special interview, Ng tells us what motivated him to care about animal welfare and rights, and it turns out that it is not only for the sake of the creatures themselves but for the deeper mission to develop in Singaporeans the instinct to put right what has gone wrong.

 

Commentary: Firstly, while many care about animal welfare, what transformed you from someone who was personally interested in animals into a change agent aiming to affect broader society in the area of animal welfare?

 

Louis Ng [LN]: My interest in animals began when I was fourteen years old, but the turning point came after what I witnessed at the Singapore Zoo. A chimpanzee named Ramba hugged me and she was checking whether lips were bleeding after she had been punched. I will always be ashamed to say that it took a second incident before I decided it was time to speak up.

 

 I shared my concerns with many of the fellow volunteers at the zoo and everyone said, “Yes, it is wrong, but we cannot speak up, because this one involves the government, you know?”

 

Hearing that remark was disappointing as I felt that the biggest crime is to know something is happening, and yet do nothing about it.

 

Commentary: Was this incident after university?

 

LN: I was in the first year of university then. I realised that if I did not speak up, nothing would change. I approached the zoo management and said that we should put an end to chimp photography. I remember what the curator said — we are good friends now — “Louis, you are just a small boy; you will never win.”

 

With that, they took my badge and ‘fired me’ for speaking up. I approached a number of Singaporeans, non-government organisations and got the same response: “The Zoo is government, don’t speak up against it.”

 

Read the full article here





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