Malaysiakini Letter

Stop transfer of elephants to private zoos

Upreshpal Singh  |  Published:  |  Modified:

LETTER | In June, Friends of the Orangutans Malaysia were sent documents and photos relating to animals at privately-run zoos and nature or safari parks both of which are owned by a certain corporation.

The information in the files (and notes in the sender's e-mail) are extremely damning. They prove the death of animals at these facilities and documents also show the alleged export of elephants from the Kuala Gandah elephant sanctuary.

All of the above comes as no surprise to us as we have previously received endless complaints regarding the treatment of animals at these privately-run safari parks and zoos.

The photos and videos we have seen show a grossly inadequate standard of care and treatment for many animals at these safari parks and zoos including that of elephants and chimpanzees.

Among the documents we received also included a list of animals to be bought by these zoos and nature parks and those which will be acquired from Perhilitan, the wildlife department. Among them are two elephants which the document says Perhilitan is the supplier.

There are zoos in Malaysia which chain elephants for very long hours when not on display as they refuse to spend to keep elephants in a chain free environment. This practice is cruel and unacceptable, of course, and if zoos are unwilling to provide excellent treatment for elephants and other animals they shouldn't be allowed to have them in the first place.

Furthermore, elephants live in a herd and not in pairs. Keeping elephants in pairs seriously deprives them of normal social contact and they will possibly be mentally damaged, as one elephant expert put it.

It is also unacceptable that two elephants came from the Kuala Gandah elephant sanctuary run by Perhilitan. What was previously thought of as a safe refuge for elephants also appears to be a supplier to ghastly zoos. This has to stop.

Last year it was exposed in the media regarding an animal park's alleged inhumane treatment of three chimps by keeping them in barren cages only for over two years since their arrival from Japan in 2015.

This is illegal according to the Wildlife Conservation Act 2010 but we have received no news regarding any sort of action taken by Perhilitan, who are usually quick to deny allegations of zoo misconduct. The chimps were sent to the zoo with Perhilitan's approval but have since been transferred elsewhere.

The new government should impose a moratorium on new zoos until all Malaysian zoos can prove that they can provide the best of care for their animals. We already have too many zoos anyway.

We respectfully ask the new Water, Land and Natural Resources Dr Xavier Jayakumar to cancel the pending transfer of two elephants to a nature park. Considering the above, zoos must not be rewarded with sensitive and delicate animals such as elephants or any other animal until they can provide evidence of continuous excellent care for all its existing animals.

The writer is director, wildlife rights NGO Friends of the Orangutans.

The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.

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