This is a response by Zoo Negara’s management to an article in Malaysiakini entitled ‘Corruption, animal cruelty plague Zoo Negara’.
1) Statement: The decrease in number of visitors whereby the zoo only receives 200,000 visitors in the year 2014 compared to 1986 where it managed to get a million visitors.
Answer: The statement about the total number of visitors in 2014 is incorrect. The right figure for number of visitors until October 2014 this year is 552,757.
The underlying factor for the 1986’s million visitors is the opening of a Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) fast food franchise in Zoo Negara. Through an agreement with KFC, they have agreed to advertise their promotion in broadcast television exclusively including Zoo Negara. The impact from that advertisement ‘Let’s got to the Zoo!’ was said to pull an enormous amount of crowd to Zoo Negara.
Besides that, the lack of recreational places in the 1980s is also a factor that drove towards the zoo having a high number of visitors. In that era, Kuala Lumpur is still in the development stage of building malls like Suria KLCC, Pavillion, Berjaya Times Square, Mid Valley Megamall, One Utama Shopping Complex and many more.
Additionally now, the residents of the city have many options of recreational parks to choose from, for example KL Bird Park, KL Butterfly Park, Sunway Lagoon, KL Tower and also Aquaria KLCC. These factors are the main contribution to the decrease of visitors to Zoo Negara even with the vigorous efforts and initiatives from Zoo Negara’s management to promote the zoo.
The management very much appreciate the efforts and concern of the government led by YAB Mohd Najib Abdul Razak in putting Zoo Negara as a world class zoo. Through the Giant Panda Conservation Project which is symbolic of bilateral relations Malaysia-China, it has contributed to a large increase of visitors to the zoo.
A range of upgrading projects has been implemented by the Natural Resources and Environment Ministry (NRE) including upgrading of animals’ exhibit and landscape to encourage more visitors to come to Zoo Negara.
From the support we have received by the government, Zoo Negara also received countless admirations and positive feedbacks from zoo visitors.
2) Statement: Ticket prices are expensive.
Answer: The zoo’s management finds that the entrance ticket prices are reasonable and affordable if it were to compare with entrance tickets to other recreational centres as Zoo Negara is the only place that offers seven diversities in one to visitors, i.e. amphibians, aquarium, birds, insects, mammals, reptiles and flora.
3) Statement: Unsatisfactory toilet hygiene.
Answer: The conditions and hygiene level of toilets in Zoo Negara are monitored from time to time by the Ampang Jaya Municipal Council. Reports of a sudden inspection from the council in 2013 find that the zoo’s public toilets are at a satisfactory level of four out of five stars with marks of 89 percent.
4) Statement: Corruption issues.
Answer: Zoo Negara is certified by Sirim 9001:2008 since 2006. All standard operating procedure (SOP) including husbandry practices, veterinary care, administration processes and customer care services are in accordance to Quality Management System by Sirim. To comply with the standards, Zoo Negara is audited once a year by Sirim.
Apart from Sirim, the National Audit Department has been stationed at Zoo Negara for a duration of six months to monitor daily administration operations.
Following the reports to the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC), Zoo Negara has been visited multiple times by MACC for inspection and investigation. However, after thorough investigations, it can be concluded by MACC that the said matter is only caused by false allegations. MACC is always welcome to do inspections whenever needed.
5) Statement: Animal cruelty and welfare issues.
Answer: Zoo Negara is under the supervision of the Department of Wildlife and National Parks (Perhilitan) for matters relating to the care and upkeep of animals. Perhilitan pays regularly visits to audit and inspect on animal husbandry and welfare.
Besides that, Zoo Negara has four certified/qualified and proficient veterinarians, among them are Dr Mat Naim Ramli who has decades of experience as a senior veterinarian and holds the portfolio of Zoo Negara’s director of the Zoology Department.
Furthermore, Zoo Negara also is a member of World Association of Zoos & Aquaria (Waza), South-East Asia Zoos Association (Seaza) and Malaysian Zoological Park & Aquaria (Mazpa). We are governed by the Animal Ethics and Welfare regulations of the three associations.