Thursday, 28 July 2011

Letter to the Editor: Johor State Zoo -- A Crying Shame!

Paloh the Baby Elephant -- subjected to cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment. Her only crime is that she has the bad fortune of being housed in Johor Zoo.


Johor state Local Government, Housing, Arts, Culture and Heritage Committee chairman Datuk Ahmad Zahri Jamil’s defence of the Johor Zoo (The Star,“No reason to shut down state’s iconic park, says exco man”, Monday July 25, 2011) is flippant and preposterous. The zoo’s long history, low ticket prices and high number of local visitors are neither justifications for cruelty to animals nor indicators of the Zoo's animal welfare standards or educational value.

The recent outrage over Johor Zoo’s cruel treatment of Paloh the baby elephant is only the latest in a long line of complaints against the zoo for wildlife offences and animal abuse and exploitation. As recently as 2010, Johor Zoo was openly selling illegal wildlife in a shop within its premises, and in 2011 the Zoo made the headlines again with Shirley the chain-smoking orang-utan.

In May 2011, it was reported that all wildlife establishments would now have to undergo auditing under new guidelines drawn up by the Natural Resources and Environment Ministry. (The Star, “Audit on all who keep wild animals” Friday May 6, 2011). This move is a timely and welcome one, and any progress on the implementation of the said audit guidelines would be highly appreciated.

With the enactment of the Wildlife Conservation Act 2010 (Act 716) in
December 2010, cruelty to wildlife is finally recognized as a criminal offence, and enforcement agencies such as Perhilitan are now endowed with the power to monitor wildlife displays and wildlife in captivity. The closure of the Saleng Zoo in June 2011 demonstrates that Perhilitan is capable to taking positive action against errant zoos and wildlife facilities. It is therefore imperative that Perhilitan requires all zoos and parks, including Johor Zoo, to comply with the standards set by the Malaysian Association of Zoological Parks and Aquaria (MAZPA), failing which permits and licences may be revoked or not issued. Although these guidelines are not legally binding, they would provide direction in ensuring that zoos are professionally managed and will advance the cause of animal rights and welfare.

Johor Zoo needs urgent reform, if not a complete closure until a new management panel can be appointed, in order to protect the safety and health of the animals it houses. It is critical that Perhilitan and other NGOs and zoo associations be allowed to inspect and audit Johor Zoo and offer recommendations to be implemented immediately to prevent further harm to the animals. Failure to comply with the recommendations should result in the suspension or closure of Johor Zoo, the revocation of its licence, and the seizure and transfer of its animal residents to better facilities. If the Johor State Exco views tourist numbers as the main indicator of success, then it is submitted that improvements to the animals’ welfare and living conditions would greatly increase the number of visitors and positive feedback.

Zoos, aquariums and animal parks should be educational facilities that provide both humans the opportunity to learn about the natural history of wild animals and the need to protect and conserve the natural habitats of wildlife, and captive animals the opportunity to learn survival and social skills natural to their specie. Exploiting wildlife under the guise of preserving endangered specie is reprehensible and goes against the goals of conservation and environmental education.


Please come and sign the petition too! Send Baby Paloh To A Sanctuary!


Cat-from-Sydney said...

Except for one occasion, Mama doesn't take us to zoos. We can't stand seeing animals in cages, small enclosures or confined spaces like an aquarium. No animals should be treated like the poor elephant. What if we put those heartless humans in the zoo instead? har har har *evil laughs*

Cali said...

I don't know if it's a US thing, or what, but I can't see whatever the photo or video is at the top of the entry. However, I went to and signed the petition and learned much more about that poor baby elephant's plight. Elephants are social creatures and what they are doing to her should be criminal, and would be in the US! That poor baby! Please keep this issue in the hearts and minds of your fellow countrymen, the press and the officials who have the power to do something about this atrocity.

Beverly E. Dennis said...

@ Cali. you must click on red x to see pic. Please everyone sign & share petition. She will die if this isn't stopped. Zoo needs shut down!...Blessings

~CovertOperations78~ said...

Dear Kitties-from-Sydney,
Zoos should be converted into sanctuaries, and they should stop the practice of captive breeding animals as diplomatic gifts, as China does with pandas. Putting animals in chains and small enclosures in the name of "education" is ridiculous. What do visitors learn from witnessing this? That it is good and necessary to ill-treat animals so they behave in a way "acceptable" to humans? What about all those humans behaving in ways unacceptable to animals?

~CovertOperations78~ said...

Dear Cali and Beverly,
Thank you for your support and for signing the petition. Our government needs to know that the eyes of the world are watching. Paloh's chains have been removed and now she has the company of another elephant, Jeli, in their own enclosure. This was made possible because we all expressed our anger in a constructive manner.