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Brussels police rescue 30 animals from educational farm
Police seized around 30 animals from a so-called educational farm on Rue Saint-Denis on the border between Anderlecht and Forest in Brussels on Tuesday evening.
According to a report released by the animal protection organisation Animals in Peril which, with a number of other groups, assisted the police on the raid, the improvised Koranic educational farm, known as Farm El Hikma, included ponies, alpacas, farmyard animals, but also ostriches, nandous, maras, a goat or even a grand duke owl. It is illegal to keep some of the animals found at the site, which were kept in "appalling conditions" according to the report.
The animal welfare volunteers who assisted the police were shocked at the state of the farm. The animals were kept in tiny, squalid cages, crammed between an industrial building and the railway. The animals were forced to stand in a swamp of urine, faeces and mud.
"Even in the worst circuses, still allowed a few years ago in Belgium, I have never seen exotic animals detained in such pitiful conditions,” said Jean-Marc Montegnies, president of Animals in Peril. “To call this an educational farm is completely unbelievable. If this is this school’s concept of educating about respect for animals, then it really raises questions."
"It was a passer-by who saw the animals and the conditions in which they lived. He then contacted us to report it and we intervened," a police spokesperson said. "We intervened within the framework of the Animal Welfare Act. The main problem is that some species that lived there simply cannot be held in Belgium."
"Apparently, the principal of the school had done this with good intentions,” the spokesperson added. “He wanted to make an educational farm so that the children could become familiar with the animals. He reportedly made a request for animals on Facebook and that's how he would have received them. They looked like they were fed, but it's hard to take care of certain animals without knowing a lot about them."
The police will now forward the case to Brussels Environment, which is responsible for animal welfare administration in the Brussels-Capital region. This authority has 60 days to decide on the relocation of the animals. "Given the seriousness of the facts, the animal welfare shelters involved are convinced that the confiscation will be confirmed and that the animals will be entrusted to them definitively," concludes Animals at Risk.