MPI releases list of wide array of animals brought into New Zealand
Somewhere out there is an ass with a curious claim: it was the only donkey to enter New Zealand in an entire year.
MPI has released its list of animals imported into New Zealand in 2014 and 2015.
Of the almost 16,000 animals arriving in the two years, dogs were the main immigrants, but alpacas, ladybugs, worms, guinea pigs, and rabbits all made the list.
While it may seem rather like bringing sand to the beach, 45 sheep entered New Zealand in the past two years.
* NZ's zoo escapes: Tigers, cheetahs and meerkats, oh my
* Escaped tarantula grounds plane
* Sheep on loose in Wainuiomata till woman in pink dressing gown saves the day
* Santa Claws needs help: Rescue for cat stuck in a chimney
A Federated Farmers spokeswoman said they were almost certainly in New Zealand for breeding purposes.
"We haven't eaten them, and I doubt very much they were used to make some special wool product."
Many of those animal arrivals were probably family pets, and the figures came as little surprise to Wellington vet Allan Probert.
"The cat or the dog is part of the family, so they travel with them. Most people do it legally – not like Johnny Depp."
And as people travelled more with work, animals were increasingly coming along, helped by a reduction in red tape involved in cross-border pet travel, he said.
Even the high-flying guinea pigs – 98 of them in the two years – did not surprise Probert, despite what would be a substantial cost for a pet that could be bought in a shop for $30 or less.
"We have clients who spend $500 to $1000 on a surgical procedure [on a guinea pig] without blinking an eye."
Three tarantulas arrived here in 2014 but they were the only spiders, or at least the only ones known about, entering the country during the period.
In 2014, just one donkey entered New Zealand but, the following year, four more followed in its hoof prints.
Pity the poor laboratory animals. Not only are they being brought into the country to be experimented on, but they are all lumped into one category. Two hundred creatures categorised as "laboratory animals" entered New Zealand in 2014, followed by 105 the following year.
"Zoo animals" – 39 in 2014 and 49 in 2015 – suffered a similar indignity.
According to an MPI spokeswoman, about 7800 animals were imported to New Zealand annually. "The types of animals range from everyday pets like cats and dogs to lab animals such as rats and mice."
For all the 15,944 animals imported during the two years, importers faced "strict requirements" under the Biosecurity Act.
"When assessing whether or not to allow an animal into New Zealand, MPI analyses the biosecurity risks and how these could be best managed.
"In doing this, we also consider current available scientific evidence and international standards."
Each species had its own import standards, with specific rules for what importers needed to do to ensure unwanted pests and diseases were not brought into the country.
"For example, horses being imported into New Zealand must come from an approved exporting country, be up-to-date with all the necessary vaccines, and be tested by an approved lab to show that the animal is healthy and does not have any diseases not present in New Zealand."
In 2014, 1467 horses went through that process, followed by 1393 last year, making them the third-most imported species after dogs and cats.
"There are also specific rules around how the animal is to be transported, to ensure they don't pick up any diseases on their way to New Zealand."
Any animal found not to meet biosecurity rules would not be cleared for entry.
BY THE NUMBERS (animals imported in the past two years):
Invertebrates: 924 (This included 169 "misc invertebrates" such as ladybugs, 743 butterflies and moths, nine worms, and three spiders.)
Laboratory animals: 305
Guinea pigs: 98
Zoo animals: 88