Animals at San Anton Gardens seem to have been left to starve throughout the pandemic and at least two swans have died mysteriously, an animal activist has warned.
Alison Bezzina flagged the situation of animals at the popular gardens, which surround the President’s Palace, after someone posted on a popular Facebook forum for animal lovers that swans had starved to death.
The problem started last March after the Attard garden was closed to the public as a precautionary measure against the spread of COVID-19.
“Cat feeders who for years have voluntarily fed the cats twice a day were immediately denied entry by ELC (Environmental Landscapes Consortium) management,” Bezzina wrote in her blog.
“After much drama and the intervention of many activists and people in authority, one cat feeder was granted access – the feeder was allowed a strict 15 minutes a day to feed all the cats in the garden.”
“It soon transpired that 15 minutes was not enough to get the job done; firstly because the garden is huge and the cats are in different areas, but also because during feeding time the feeders were being surrounded by peacocks, ducks, pigeons and other birds, who seemed desperate for food and almost attacking the feeder.”
“This was immediately highlighted to ELC management but our concerns were dismissed as pathetic. We were told over and over again that the birds were being fed enough and appropriately.”
“A few days later, and again after many interventions by different activists and authorities the cat feeder’s time was extended to one hour per day.”
“Although this was much better than the initial 15 minutes, one feed a day was still considered an unnecessary hardship on the cats who were used to being fed twice a day.”
When Gwida reported last month that peacocks had escaped from San Anton Gardens, many activists suspected they could have been foraging for food. However, they were assured by the park authorities that “it happens sometimes”.
Bezzina said an inspection by Animal Welfare of the garden found “nothing untoward”, but that a few days later, the Director of Animal Welfare and the Commissioner for Animal Rights intervened to grant cat feeders a second hour to feed the cats.
“Sadly and quite mysteriously, during this whole saga, two swans died and another one seems to be missing,” she wrote. “It is unknown where the remains are and no postmortem was conducted. ELC claim that these seemingly healthy swans died of natural causes.”
“The above facts were not published by this website before today, in order to protect the cat feeders and not to jeopardize the time that they were granted to feed the cats at San Anton.”
Photo left: Swans at San Anton (Photo: I Will Not Go Away: Alison Bezzina), Photo right: San Anton Gardens