Department of Primary Industries broke its own rules

in allowing lion cubs at Ian Malouf’s party

Landfill site party

Breached own regulations … Zookeeper Stephanie Robinson with lion cub Spot at the landfill site at Eastern Creek. Picture: Tim Hunter Source: The Daily Telegraph

Landfill site party

VIP tour …NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell is given at tour of the landfill site by entrepreneur Ian Malouf. Picture: Tim Hunter Source: The Daily Telegraph

WHEN Dial A Dump entrepreneur Ian Malouf threw a party to celebrate the opening of his massive Sydney landfill site, there were crowds, a concert, indoor fireworks – and two tiny lion cubs.

But now the Department of Primary Industries, which approved the presence of the cubs, has been criticised for breaking its own rules.

Mr Malouf, 46, laid out $500,000 on alcohol, pyrotechnics, performances from singer Vanessa Amorosi and X-Factor contestant Andrew Wishart for the launch of his new 150m-deep Genesis site at Eastern Creek, in western Sydney, earlier this month.

The lion cubs, named Spot and Spike, were hired from Darling Downs Zoo in Queensland for the gala party, attended by more than 600 people, including Premier Barry O’Farrell.

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Witnesses said the lion cubs were carried around the party by zookeepers and guests could have their picture taken with the cubs but were not allowed to touch them.

The use of the lion cubs was approved by the DPI Animal Welfare division, despite department guidelines stating animals must be kept away from loud noises and not be led through crowds.

Greens MP and animal welfare spokesperson Cate Faehrmann said the event would have been terrifying for the eight-week-old cubs.

“Most people would be appalled if they knew the government approved this,” she said. “It appears that the department signed off on using the lion cubs in this way in direct contradiction with their own guidelines.”

Ms Faehrmann said the guidelines needed to be strengthened to prevent a recurrence. But Darling Downs Zoo owner Stephanie Robinson, who is hand-raising the cubs, said they were not in the room during the performances or fireworks.

“We were out there for 30 minutes,” she said. “They put the music on and we left and then we came back for another 15 minutes.

“They turned all the music down for us when we were out there, so there was no noise or stress. We are very strict on the conditions.”

Mrs Robinson said it was the only request the zoo had received to hire the animals.

A DPI spokeswoman confirmed it had given approval for two African lions to be displayed for up to three hours, but had not received any complaints.

“DPI is not aware of the issues you are raising, as a representative of DPI was not present at the opening, nor would there usually be,” she said.

Aninyha flies to her new home

30th December 2011

IN JUST a few hours, Darling Downs Zoo lion cub Aninyha will touch down at Hobart Airport and make herself right at home in the Richmond Zoodoo Wildlife Park.Richmond Zoodoo Wildlife Park’s managing director Trevor Cuttriss plays with Aninyha the lion cub before they board the plane to Hobart.

IN JUST a few hours, Darling Downs Zoo lion cub Aninyha will touch down at Hobart Airport and soon make herself right at home in the Richmond Zoodoo Wildlife Park.

The 12-week-old lion cub was relaxed and playful when she said goodbye to Darling Downs Zoo owner Steve Robinson before she boarded a small plane at the Toowoomba Airport to begin the five-and-a-half hour journey to her new home at the wildlife park, accompainied by the park’s managing director Trevor Cuttriss.

Mr Robinson said he could only afford to keep one of the lion cubs which was born a few months ago, but was confident Aninyha could not go to a better home.

“The trouble with raising animals like this is it’s always going to be sad,” he said.