A man has been charged with animal cruelty offences after a chicken was killed at Oakvale Farm earlier this week.
Officers from Port Stephens-Hunter PD were called to the wildlife park at Salt Ash to reports of the incident, which was reportedly witnessed by hoards of horrified families visiting during school holidays on Tuesday.
Police were told at around 3pm, a man had taken a live silky chicken, affectionately known as “Betty White”, from its pen and threw it into a nearby alligator enclosure, where it was killed.
On Thursday, a 57-year-old man attended Singleton Police Station where he was charged with committing an act of aggravated cruelty upon an animal.
He will front Raymond Terrace Local Court on February 5.
In a statement released on Friday, Oakvale Farm owner Kent Sansom said management and staff were deeply saddened by the incident.
“This is the first time in our 43 years that we have had a member of the public engage in such cruelty in what is an animal sanctuary,” Mr Sansom said.
“Betty White was hand-raised at the park and had played a crucial role in our endangered species breeding programme for the bush stone curlew and other species by providing surrogacy to the chicks”
“Her quiet nature means she would not hesitate to approach a customer for some animal pellets, making her an easy target for a ruthless perpetrator.”
Mr Sansom also thanked authorities and the public for the response.
“We appreciate the support of the local police area command and the RSPCA for their swift response and ongoing support during this distressing time. We also appreciate the support in the way of messages, phone calls and visits to the park we have received from our valued customers.”
“In light of this unfortunate incident, Oakvale Wildlife Park remains steadfast in its commitment to conservation, sustainability, and animal welfare… [it] underscores the importance of our collective responsibility to protect and respect the animals that share our planet.”