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Six bad zoos down, 16 to go

August 30, 2012

FMT LETTER, From Sean Whyte, via e-mail

Perhilitan have announced the closure of six zoos out of the 22 they have identified as failing to meet the legal standards required under the Wildlife Conservation Act 2010. This is a good start and not before time.

Our investigations over the past two years suggest the number of zoos in need of urgent closure is much higher, but for the moment let’s focus on the 22.

Perhilitan have said the animals from the six zoos just closed are to be either released into the wild

after some kind of health check or, sent to other approved zoos. We hope for the sake of the wild populations none of the ex-zoo animals are carrying any diseases, which could then have a devastating effect on any number of wild animals. Are species experts being consulted?

Despite repeated requests Perhilitan have never disclosed what zoos might take the animals from the 22 to be closed.

There is not a zoo in Malaysia which isn’t already overcrowded, most with archaic cages. If the NRE and Perhilitan ever wonder why they come in for so much criticism, their lack of transparency is one sound reason.

Since the figure of 22 condemned and unidentified (bar six) zoos was mentioned we have noticed what we suspect is a watering down of Perhilitan’s intentions with regarding to implementing the Wildlife Conservation Act 2010, but let’s give them the benefit of the doubt and see if for once they will walk their talk.

We have already highlighted the 10 worst zoos we know fail to meet the new legal standard. We would like to make things even simpler for Perhilitan today and name four which must be closed immediately, not only to show Perhilitan are willing to enforce the law, but also for the sake of the animals trapped in these hell-holes: Johor Zoo; Perlis Bird Park, Perlis Animal Park and the KL Tower Zone Mini Zoo. No one serious about law enforcement in Perhilitan can justify these four zoos remaining open another day.

Now we wait to see if, or when, these four are closed down and permanently so. There are so many breaches of the law in each zoo, so much cruelty and abject misery, there can be no choice but permanent closure.

The question is, do Perhilitan have the professionalism and guts to carry out their duties? Yesterday they were quoted as saying, “Although this involves a high cost, the welfare of wild animals in captivity has to be a priority.” Watch this space and see if they are sincere or not. It has to be said based on past, bitter experience, we have our doubts.

Sean Whyte is the chief executive of Nature Alert


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