Nightmare Indonesia zoo giraffe death

2012-03-13 21:09

kalahari.com

Surabaya - The tigers are emaciated and the 180 pelicans packed so tightly they cannot unfurl their wings without hitting a neighbour. Last week, a giraffe died with a beachball-sized wad of plastic food wrappers in its belly.

That death has focused new attention on the scandalous conditions at Indonesia's largest zoo. Set up nearly a century ago in one the most biologically diverse corners of the planet, it once boasted the most impressive collection in Southeast Asia.

But today the Surabaya Zoo is a nightmare, plagued by uncontrolled breeding, a lack of funding for general animal welfare and even persistent suspicions that members of its own staff are involved in illegal wildlife trafficking.

The rarest species, including Komodo dragons and critically endangered orangutans, sit in dank, unsanitary cages, filling up on peanuts tossed over the fence by giggling visitors.

"This is extremely tragic, but of course by no means surprising in Indonesia's zoos, given the appalling way they are managed on the whole," said Ian Singleton, a former zoo keeper who now runs an orangutan conservation program on Sumatra island.

The zoo came under heavy fire two years ago following reports that 25 of its 4 000 animals were dying every month, almost all of them prematurely. They included an African lion, a Sumatran tiger and several crocodiles.

The government appointed an experienced zoo keeper, Tony Sumampouw, to clean up the operation and he struggled, with some success, to bring the mortality rate down to about 15 per month.

But following last week's death of the 30-year-old giraffe "Kliwon" - who had for years been eating litter and trash thrown into its pen and was found with a 18kg ball of plastic in its stomach - Sumampouw said he's all but given up.

Nothing short of a "total renovation" is needed, he said.

No family planning

"We need to either think about privatising or transferring out some of the animals."

With entrance fees of less than $2, critics say there's not enough money to care for the animals, much less invest in improving the zoo's facilities.

One of the biggest problems is overcrowding.

Whereas most zoos limit the number of animals born in captivity - taking into consideration how many can reasonably be cared for or exchanged with other zoos - the notion of "family planning" has not yet taken off here.

Contraceptives are expensive and there are not adequate facilities to separate males and females. As result, species at the Surabaya zoo are bred to excess.

The 180 pelicans are kept in a pen the size of a volleyball court. Nearby, 16 tigers  12 Sumatran and four Bengalese - are kept in a prison-like row of concrete cages.

One white tiger, whose parents were donated by the Indian government nearly 20 years ago, is now covered by skin lesions.

Let out so rarely, she suffers from back complications that make it difficult to just stand up, let alone walk, zoo curator Sri Pentawati said.

Too many tigers

"There are too many tigers," she lamented. "We have a hard time rotating them out to get all the exercise they need."

Rahmat Shah - a well known big-game hunter with a museum in the city of Medan that is filled with rhino, big cats and other animals he's shot around the world - currently heads Indonesia's National Zoo Association. He says none of the zoos run by the government are in good condition, but that Surabaya is especially troubled, due to a bitter internal rift.

Two men who each claimed to be the zoo's chief were fired several years ago, but their followers among the staff have continued the feud.

Police believe the poisoning death of a Javan warthog in January, found with traces of cyanide in its stomach, was linked to that conflict.

"One side is always trying to discredit the other," said Ludvie Achmad, head of a local conservation agency.

Sumampouw acknowledged he has had little success in controlling the undisciplined staff.

He said he believes some animals, including three young Komodos that disappeared last year, were stolen by caretakers and sold into the exotic pet trade.

Zookeepers also have been accused of taking meat meant for the tigers and selling it in the local market.

- AP

Read more on:    indonesia  |  conservation  |  animals
NEXT ON NEWS24X

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
11 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
 

Shilowa supports Vote No campaign

Former Gauteng premier Mbhazima Shilowa has come out in support of the Vote No! Campaign launched recently by former intelligence minister Ronnie Kasrils and former deputy health minister Nozizwe Madlala-Routledge, says a report.

 
 

Latest elections multimedia

Why Jack Parow wants you to vote on 7 May
The ad the SABC doesn't want to air
Elections 2014 in one cartoon
This year's election posters
 
Traffic
Lottery
 
  • Thursday Sir Lowry's Pass - 05:35 AM
    Road name: Old Sir Lowrys Pass Road
    TRAFFIC LIGHTS not working at Bezweni Road
  • Thursday Cape Town - 05:35 AM
    Road name: Buitengracht Street
    TRAFFIC LIGHTS not working at Waterkant Street
 
More traffic reports...
 

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Escape winter, head to Mauritius

Escape winter by spending 7 nights in Mauritius' tropical bliss from R13 215 per person sharing. Includes return flights, airport transfers and accommodation. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Get many eggs in one basket!

Gaming bundles: 2 Super Hits games for R99, 3 Disney games for R99 and more + exclusive accessory bundles only available on kalahari.com. While stocks last. Shop now!

25% off bestselling books!

The Real Meal Revolution by Tim Noakes, Jeffrey Archer’s Be Careful What You Wish for, Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor E. Frank and many more titles. Shop now!

Up to 25% off electronics

Buy top electronics and save up to 25%. Such as kalahari.com’s 1# selling product the gobii eReader, Patriot X Porter flash drive, Asus Nexus 7” 3G tablet, Samsung Galaxy SIII, Lenovo G580 Notebook and many more. Shop now!

DStv HD PVR Decoder now R949

The DStv HD PVR Decoder has further revolutionised the television experience with lifelike viewing, sharper images, more vibrant colours and precision picture quality. Now R949, save R550. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Up to 30% off appliances & homeware

Save up to 30% on appliances and homeware this Easter! Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now.

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Nokia N9

The Nokia N9 has a beautiful one-piece, unibody design where...

From R2899.85

I'm shopping for:

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

You may be good at organising events but they do take their toll on your energy levels. You may need some time out today just to...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.