Remembering Sheena

Stop Animal Abuse in Malaysia.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

SAM Wants Probe Into Zoo Negara's Mismanagement

Below is a letter from Sahabat Alam Malaysia published in Malaysia Kini:

Zoo Negara's problems making news headlines isn't anything new. Similar issues have surfaced before in the past, with the Malaysian Zoological Society refuting allegations of poor management.

There have been reports in 2003 of pygmy hippotamuses, penguins, tigers, antelopes, zebras and giraffes dying from neglect and poor decision-making.

The society seems incapable of managing the zoo. What difference will it make if the government gives it more funds? Whatever the outcome, things do not look bright for the zoo's future.

Animals in zoos are completely dependent on people. When funds fall short or bad management practices prevail, it is always the animals who suffer or die.

Forget about pride! A zoo that is struggling to stay open, and is unable to look after its animals adequately, should be scheduled for closure.

Sahabat Alam Malaysia (SAM) is shocked and disturbed to learn of the 'collectors' syndrome' affecting its management that is now setting its sights on a proposed aviary, insectariums, fish aquarium, pygmy elephants and the latest tropical animals.

The zoo's perception is that new attractions will increase gate collections. Invariably, a well-managed zoo shows the unmistakable stamp of a knowledgeable director, not by having a world-class zoo but in the consideration shown towards the comfort, both physical and mental, of its stock.

Depending upon size, display space, and available funds, a wise zoo director keeps his inventory within limits.

The phenomenon of listless, bored animals is a crucial problem in zoos and the challenge is to keep them stimulated. Zoo Negara should focus improving upon its animal welfare further and do away with animals in cages.

Enrichment programmes have been initiated recently, but there is more to it than refurbishing an animal's exhibit. It needs to encompass foraging behaviour, mental stimulation, cognitive ability and socialising.

The challenge faced by Zoo Negara is improving the lives of the zoo inhabitants. For now it should concentrate on vast improvements to its remaining collections to reduce deaths.

SAM urges a full probe be made by the Ministry of Natural Resources and findings be revealed to the public. The zoo should be competent, accountable and transparent in all its actions and be held accountable for all this malaise.

We call on the MACC to reveal its findings of the on-going investigations of the zoo's mismanagement without any cover-up whatsoever.

A zoo legislation to govern all animal establishments including aquariums, reptile and butterfly farms should be incorporated into the amended Wildlife Protection Act with a policy document drawn up in close consultation with animal welfare groups.

By S M Mohd Idris, the president of Sahabat Alam Malaysia (SAM)


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