Anton Rea Cutajar, the controversial owner of Siġġiewi’s L-Arka ta’ Noe zoo, has uploaded a 30-minute rant personally attacking Malta’s new Animal Commissioner.
In the video, Cutajar aggressively lashes out at Alison Bezzina, as well as the mainstream media, civil society and the Nationalist Party.
Saying that zoos were suddenly being targeted because people didn’t like him personally, he hit out at Bezzina specifically, targeting her background as a civil society activist and a columnist for the Times of Malta, and asking what animal credentials she has for the job, even threatening that he could have her fired.
“If you keep going on like this, I’ll write a letter to who I need to, and you won’t last as commissioner. This is a conflict of interest – you don’t care about animals, you care about zoos. And not about all the seven zoos in Malta, but Anton’s, because he got the signatures,” he says, in reference to an anti-illegal migration petition he was a major part of.
“Why do you want to ban petting? What are the reasons? Anton is really annoying you it seems,” Cutajar said of himself. “I’m used to getting hit – the more you hit me, the more you strengthen me.”
Cutajar, an outspoken Labourite, said he was livid that she had just been appointed to the position by Robert Abela and was focused on zoos, and he challenged her to a debate on animals.
His angry rant came after Bezzina said her position was clear on zoos: “exotic animals do not belong in cages”.
Since posting his rant, several people publicly expressed their solidarity with Bezzina and criticised Cutajar for his “unhinged” attack.
“Well done Alison for giving these beautiful creatures a voice,” said one person. “This is bullying at best, a threat at worst,” said another.
Cutajar’s personal attacks on the newly-appointed Animal Commissioner who is doing the job she was appointed to do is, unfortunately, a tactic seen too often in a country with a tribal mentality.
Attacking her past, her knowledge and even questioning how Maltese she is, this type of rhetoric is both dangerous for the public and does a disservice to people who may support zoos in Malta, filling them with unneeded hatred.