Four tarantulas from Germany may soon be on their way to Iceland, to be exhibited at Reykjavík Family Park and Zoo. “In addition to exhibitions and education, the spiders may be used to treat arachnophobia,” a notice from the Environment Agency states. The notice details two permits recently granted by the agency: one for the four tarantulas, and one for four southern white-faced owls, to be imported from the United Kingdom, for display and educational purposes at a separate location.
Any import of exotic animals is subject to a permit from the Environment Agency, which considers, among other factors, whether the animals in question could survive in the wild in Iceland if they were to escape and whether they would pose a threat to local biodiversity. According to the agency’s assessment, neither the tarantulas nor the owls are likely to survive in the wild in Iceland. The tarantulas require high temperatures and humidity in addition to water and food. The owls, native to the southern part of Africa, are unlikely to survive due to unfavourable weather and poor food supply.
Animals still subject to import licence
Although the Environment Agency has given the go-ahead for importing the animals, their trip is still subject to an import licence in accordance with the legislation governing the import of animals.
City councillor criticises zoo policy
The Reykjavík Family Park and Zoo houses mostly domesticated animals native to Iceland, such as sheep, cows, and horses. Wild animals, such as seals, are however also among its exhibits. The park has recently received three permits to import exotic animals: giant ants, pythons, and the tarantulas that are the subject of this article.
City councillor Hildur Björnsdóttir of the Independence Party has criticised these imports, saying the zoo should only house domestic animals, to which it can offer humane conditions. Hildur put forth a motion in December to change the zoo’s policy to that effect. She has also questioned whether the municipality should be responsible for running the zoo, suggesting it may be best to contract out its operation to a private party.