Local man Gus McKinnon is leading a push to have the Deniliquin Waring Gardens peacock enclosure retained.
He started an online petition on Monday after reading about Edward River Council’s intentions to investigate removing the popular aviary in the Pastoral Times last week (‘Peacocks could go’, Tuesday, November 21).
At the time of going to print yesterday there were more than 670 supporters.
Mr McKinnon says he considers the peacock enclosure a Deniliquin icon and was inspired by his own memories of visiting the exotic birds with his family as a youngster.
‘‘Before we moved here we would often travel through Deni to visit family in Finley,’’ he said.
‘‘We would stop to see the peacocks and mum and dad would always go for a walk to get a coffee and some food. If we stayed a little longer, they would also stop into a variety of other shops.
‘‘As the enclosure is in the centre of town, its potential for economic gain cannot be ignored.
‘‘The enclosure is iconic to the town and really is the icing on the cake of the Waring Gardens.
‘‘When you have an aviary with exotic birds, it is engaging and educational for adults and children.’’
Mr McKinnon says he’s overwhelmed with the support shown to the cause so far, and encouraged more people to have their say.
‘‘As well as signing the petition, people also have the option to leave a comment or message.
‘‘There’s been a lot of different comments so far — some suggest leaving the aviary as is, others suggest doing the upgrades. Some people even suggested starting a voluntary committee to assist with the upkeep.
‘‘I appreciate the costs associated with keeping the enclosure are high, but we have to spend the money on something.
‘‘Perhaps the money could be taken from council’s reserves to do beautification works.’’
Edward River Council has estimated necessary upgrades to ensure the enclosure is up to animal health standards will cost about $30,000.
Its costings also indicate feed for the enclosure will increase from $6000 a year to $10,000, and that at least two staff will be required to obtain a Certificate III in Captive Animals with the minimum cost for the training being $8580.
‘‘There is so much red tape now, and I think the real catch will be the training component,’’ Mr McKinnon said.
‘‘But we need to make it obvious to the council that there is support for the enclosure to stay.’’
An investigation into the enclosure was started last year, when a complaint led to a site visit from a NSW Department of Primary Industry’s animal welfare officer.
The officer advised the enclosure be screened until the standards required could be met.
A petition against the keeping of caged animals in the gardens was also received by council, signed by 150 people.
Council is inviting submissions on the proposed aviary removal by January 12.
Mayor Norm Brennan said the responses received would guide the recommendations put to council in February.