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Last Updated: Monday, 9 June, 2003, 13:51 GMT 14:51 UK
Singaporeans mourn culled cats
Stray cats in Singapore, recently brought to a pet farm by animal lovers
There are an estimated 80,000 stray cats in Singapore
Cat lovers in Singapore have been mourning hundreds of stray animals destroyed under a public health campaign triggered by the Sars outbreak.

One group of cat-mad Singaporeans even held a memorial service at a five-star hotel - a means of protest that does not breach Singapore's strict laws on public demonstrations.

The Straits Times reported that many people wept openly at Sunday's service, which included a minute's silence for the victims, as well as songs and floral tributes.

One man who attended the 80-minute service said cats should be sterilised rather than killed.

"Cats provide companionship and good memories. It pains me and my family to see them being netted," he said.

In a more unusual protest, a Singaporean fitness instructor, Balakrishnan Matchap, had whiskers painted on his face when he took part in the annual National Vertical Marathon, which involved running up 43 stories backwards, the Associated Press reported.

Public protests in Singapore are extremely rare. All gatherings require a permit and speakers must seek police approval.

In another attempt to highlight the plight of their feline friends, animal welfare activists are promoting T-shirt campaigns and raising funds to build shelters for rescued strays.

The authorities estimate the number of stray cats in Singapore at more than 80,000.



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