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Man charged with releasing pet stingrays into reservoir

SINGAPORE — In the first court case involving stingray abandonment here, a 48-year-old man was charged Wednesday (Sept 20) with letting three of the creatures loose at Lower Seletar Reservoir in June.

Man charged with releasing pet stingrays into reservoir

Motoro stingray. Photo: Boston Aquarium

SINGAPORE — In the first court case involving stingray abandonment here, a 48-year-old man was charged Wednesday (Sept 20) with letting three of the creatures loose at Lower Seletar Reservoir in June. 

Larry Tan Chin Guan allegedly released three Motoro stingrays at about 3pm to 4pm on June 2 without reasonable cause or excuse, according to court documents. 

The stingrays are freshwater species with venomous stings and are native to South America. 

Motoro stingrays, which can be legally sold and are popular as pets in the aquarium trade, are already found in reservoirs here. 

They are likely to have been released or abandoned by hobbyists, but the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) confirmed no one has been charged with the offence until now. 

In 2010, Motoro stingrays were reported to be breeding in Upper Seletar Reservoir after researchers published their findings — it was the first alien record of a South American freshwater stingray outside the tropical region of Central and South America — the previous year. 

Non-native or alien species should not be released into the wild because they may out-compete native species for food and upset the balance of the eco-system. 

Tan, who was unrepresented, told the court he intends to plead guilty and will return to court for further mention of his case on Sept 26. 

It was not mentioned yesterday how he was caught or what happened to the stingrays.

The AVA prosecutor told the court  Tan would also be charged with a related offence, but it would be handled by prosecutors from the national water agency PUB. 

PUB declined to comment further on the case yesterday as Tan is expected to be charged with the other offence on Sept 26. 

First-time offenders convicted of abandoning an animal without reasonable cause or excuse can be fined up to S$10,000 and jailed up to 12 months.

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