Dung could be the answer to national zoo’s financial woes

Zoo Negara frequently receives requests for animal excrement, prompting a call to carry out research to find out if it has medicinal value as claimed.

KUALA LUMPUR: Zoo Negara sometimes gets strange requests from visitors, but perhaps one of the most peculiar and most common is a request for animal excrement, particularly of the elephant or tiger.

A caretaker who calls himself Chess told FMT he gets such a request at least 10 times every month.

The first time a visitor asked him for elephant dung, about four years ago, he thought the man was ribbing him. But the visitor insisted it was no joke and soon began to plead with him for the poo.

Chess recalled that he felt pity for the visitor when he said, “Please, sir, my bomoh told me I need the dung of an elephant to get cured.”

So he scooped up some dung and put it in a plastic bag for the man although he worried that it might be infected.

Chess said those asking for elephant dung had the same story. Someone in the family was terminally ill and the dung collector was looking for a miracle.

He said they would offer him anything between RM50 and RM100 for a dollop, but he would usually turn them away for fear the dung was infected and could cause complications.

“It may come back and haunt me since they tell me they would be applying the poo on the skin.”

He said tiger scat was usually sought by farmers hoping the stench would repel animals from their crops.

Chess suggested that the government carry out research to see if the excrement of big cats would keep animals away from farms.

“If it does, then those who want it can place their orders with Zoo Negara,” he said. “It will help the zoo make money.”

He said farmers sometimes asked for tiger urine for use as an insect repellent.

“But how are we to collect tiger pee?” he asked.

This too, he added, should be studied by government scientists.

Various websites are offering tiger scat for about RM20 a can, but there appears to be no online sale of tiger urine.

Zoo Negara has been plagued by financial problems after the government stopped five-year grants of RM5 million in 2004.

In July, the zoo’s deputy president Rosly @ Rahmat Ahmat Lana told FMT that due to this, the national zoo had not been able to upgrade its facilities.

“We have no problem with running the zoo on a daily basis, to pay staff salaries to our staff and manage the animals that we keep in here. We can still bear the costs out of visitors’ fees,” Rosly said.