SAHABAT Alam Malaysia (SAM) is highly supportive of the on-going zoo animal seizures conducted by the Department of Wildlife and National Parks. This is greatly appreciated as the public and animal-welfare NGOs are tired of the abuse and poor welfare plaguing zoo animals.
Now that the law governing zoos has become full fledged, it is only right that zoos must either clean up their act or close. Zoos should abide by the laws and keep animals in conditions that satisfy their social, behavioural and biological needs, as well as provide proper veterinary care and appropriate nutrition.
They should keep proper records of births, deaths and acquisitions. All the seizures of zoo animals need not have happened if the zoos had done their part in taking good care of the animals.
With no proper controls on how animals are kept, bred or traded, badly-kept animal collections are giving zoos a bad name and the Government had done well to take action against errant animal owners. The problem is not about setting deadlines, it is having the will to enforce the law.
What is unquestionable of the majority of the 40-over zoos in Malaysia is that they are mainly run for profit or entertainment purposes. And they are poorly run, with conditions and care for the animals rarely rising above the mediocre.
For an industry that has huge public visibility, it is high time the authorities intervene with the full force of the law.
As custodians of some of the world’s most endangered species, zoos have a special responsibility and must be held accountable.
The seizure of zoo animals from A’Famosa, Saleng Zoo and others by the department are a powerful indictment of how zoo owners – whether councils or individuals – dictate the conditions for the zoo animals and their welfare.
SAM would like to see the closure of zoos which serve no useful purpose or which avoid fulfilling basic animal-welfare requirements.
The number of zoos should be limited to only a few good and responsible ones with high standards.
There should be a freeze on the approval for new licences for zoos, aviaries, reptile parks or any such facilities, be they run by the Government, councils, groups, individuals or others.
S.M. MOHD IDRIS,
Sahabat Alam Malaysia.