KUALA LUMPUR: The sale of six deer by Zoo Negara is shrouded in secrecy and allegedly did not follow procedures, according to Malaysian Trades Union Congress (MTUC) general council member A Sivananthan.
He said the female axis deer (also known as spotted deer) were recently sold at RM5,000 each to a private company, and that it was not known if the buyer had purchased the deer to slaughter them for their meat or for breeding purposes.
Sivananthan, who is an adviser to the staff union at Zoo Negara, lodged a complaint with the energy and natural resources ministry seeking an explanation. All zoos in the country come under the ministry.
He said as far as he knew from past practices, animals in zoos were only allowed to be exchanged if there was an oversupply but they are never sold.
“We want to know whether the zoo management is allowed to sell animals at their whims and fancy without following standard procedures. Normally, they should have an open tender for sale of any government assets.
“So who gets the RM30,000 from this sale? If one or two people are allowed to decide on any sale of zoo animals, the power can be abused,” he told FMT.
Sivananthan also alleged that the six deer were taken out of the zoo and transported by the buyer without following the proper protocol.
“We are also wondering if the Wildlife Department had given them official permission. Most importantly, the ministry must have some guidelines on the sale of animals from the zoo,” he said.
Former Zoo Negara acting director Dr S Vellayan said it was never the practice of the zoo in the past to sell its animals except under extenuating circumstances, adding that it had only happened once in his 28 years with the zoo.
He said the normal practice was to exchange them with other zoos or related bodies that operate legally and are licensed to operate farms.
“This can lead to abuse like selling the animals to those with vested interests. And we do not know if the new owners know how to handle them. There is also the danger of diseases being spread,” he said.
Meanwhile, the director of zoology, veterinary and panda conservation in Zoo Negara, Dr Mat Naim Ramli told FMT there were about 60 of these deer and that they are a commercial species.
He said the zoo had to reduce the numbers and since these deer fell under the non-protected animal category, they could be sold to individuals or companies for breeding or for their meat.
“We obtained the necessary permission from the Wildlife and Veterinary Services Departments. We got a good price so it was all above board. The revenue will be used for our operations,” he said, adding that the buyer obtained similar clearance from the same authorities.
According to Mat Naim, the buyer already had a few axis deer that were acquired from Melaka.