The removal of a monitor lizard that turned up at SMRT’s train depot in Bishan on Tuesday by staff drew concerns from netizens and an animal welfare group.
A video sent to Stomp showed staff shining a torchlight and prodding with poles, sticks and dustpans something in the undercarriage of a parked train.
After a while, a monitor lizard falls to the ground. Staff can be heard calling for it to be chased out of the premises.
They are seen guiding the animal out by pushing it with their tools as it crawled along. This causes the lizard to open its mouth aggressively, and it even whips its tail a few times.
In the end, a staff member grabs it by its tail and drags it out of the depot, sprinting as fast as he can before the creature can turn around and bite him.
In response to queries from The Straits Times, Mr Patrick Nathan, SMRT’s vice-president for corporate communications, said: “A monitor lizard was found in one of our depots yesterday and was removed.”
Netizens, however, were critical of the way the lizard was handled by SMRT staff.
“The animal is not at fault. Correct to chase it away but the way they do it is wrong. I find it pitiful… Tt must have got lost,” wrote Facebook user Herman Zain on the Everyday SG page, where the video was also posted.
Another Facebook user, ShuYun Leong, said: “Wild animals should not be treated this way. These people using dustpans and pulling it by the tail is not the right way, and they still laugh like it is a comedy.”
According to Animal Concerns Research and Education Society (Acres) deputy chief executive Kalai Balakrishnan, the handling of such animals should be left to experienced wildlife rescue organisations.
“The presence of many people and the use of sticks to prod the lizard, which was most likely a water monitor, and the dragging of its tail can cause the animal to get very stressed,” he said.
The lizard could potentially be harmed in the process and become very defensive, which may result in someone getting bitten.
Mr Kalai added: “For this case, one thing we noted in the video was that we could hear the staff saying what they wanted was to chase the lizard out. We appreciate the effort and intention.”
However, he said it would have been better if they had called for professional help, and urged the public to call the Acres hotline on 9783-7782 in such a situation.
Water monitor lizards are common in Singapore. There were two lizard sightings in February. One was run over after holding up traffic near the Kallang-Paya Lebar Expressway in Buangkok, while another was spotted swimming at Jurong East Swimming Complex.
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