The World’s Cruellest Zoo

On 29/12/2013, in Animals, News, by admin
One of the shocking scenes captured by my colleague Andrew Chant at the Surabaya Zoo, Indonesia

One of the shocking scenes captured by my colleague Andrew Chant at the Surabaya Zoo, Indonesia

I am touched and in awe of the incredible response to my story headlined the world’s cruellest zoo, published last week in the Daily Mail.
Here’s the link:
Those who have written to me personally and who have posted literally hundreds of shocked comments on the MailOnLine website have asked what can be done. Petitions have been started to close the zoo down and requests have been made as to where donations can be sent. I have spent the past days trying to find answers to all the questions that ask how the poor animals at the Surabaya Zoo in Indonesia can be given a better life.
I am working very hard on this, while being aware that other attempts to get the zoo closed or drastically improved, have failed due to bickering among various officials who run the establishment.
The immediate problems are these:
There are no other zoos in Indonesia that have shown a willingness to take the animals, claiming that they might be carrying diseases which would be passed on to other animals.
The zoo simply cannot be closed down because what would happen to the animals? This problem, of course, is linked to the one above.
Donations are always welcomed by any organisation or establishment, and while people from around the world have shown their willingness to give money to turn the zoo into a wonderful environment for the animals, to whom should the money go? It obviously cannot go directly to the zoo – rather, it needs to go to a responsible animal-caring organisation that will be able to send in a team, work with the zoo on what is needed to be done, and then spend the money doing it, turning the place from a hell hole into a Garden of Eden.
This is an area I’m looking into but if anyone has any better ideas or can come up with a practical solution, please get in touch.
Victoria Robinson has created a petition which you might care to sign as every voice of protest about the conditions will go towards getting something done.
Her petition is here:
Sybelle Foxcroft, Director of Cee4life has also got up a petition, which can be seen here:
Cee4Life has also created a Facebook page for the campaign here:
So you can see that efforts are being made to get something done. We just need to find out how.
I will keep you informed.



As a journalist on the road and on the run I’ve often been asked what computer I use. My answer: I don’t.
Well, let me correct that to some extent. Except on rare occasions I leave my reasonably lightweight MacBook Air (original version) at home and set off on the next assignment with just a 16gig iPad mini, a wireless ‘dongle’, a bluetooth keyboard, my excellent Fuji X10 and a card reader (although I have a cable with which I can plug the camera straight into the iPad mini).
How times have changed. Working as a foreign correspondent with a background in photography (admittedly way back in my late teens) I used to set out in the 1980s, 1990s and the early part of the new millennium weighed down with equipment – a Macbook Pro, a Canon DSLR, two zoom lenses, a flash and a back-up point-and-shoot. While that equipment didn’t exactly weigh a ton, when compared to what I carry now it certainly seemed like overkill.
I can slip all of the equipment pictured above into a small bag not much wider than the mini and with just a little more depth than the Fuji camera. But how do I make such seemingly limited equipment work for me when demands are upon me in these days of internet-speed news to file stories and pictures at the drop of a hat?
Here’s a make-believe scenario on how it all works….
I’m walking beside Sydney harbour and a man falls off the jetty. He’s splashing about but people are already jumping in to help him (thankfully, because I’m a useless swimmer, but if it was just him and me, then I’d forget the story and try to help the man). OK, he’s being rescued. Out comes the Fuji. Its zoom isn’t incredible but certainly good enough for this job. My back-up Panasonic point and shoot has an 18X zoom, so I could have used that for close ups if really needed. But with the Fuji in hand I fire away. I take sequential shots, covering the incident right up to the time the man is driven off to hospital for a check up.
I dash into a nearby cafe, order a coffee (must order *something*), activate the wi-fi dongle (the cafe might have wi-fi but there’s no time to ask for passwords and then suffer what might be a very slow connection) and get down to work. I open up Gmail and send a quick note to the paper alerting them to the fact that very soon my story and pictures of the rescue will be arriving. Then I download a selection of pictures with the card reader attached to the iPad by a camera cable, edit them with an excellent Lighroom-like app called Laminar Pro (crop, sharpen, resize), open up GMail and attach them to a brief message, three at a time to overcome GMail’s restrictions on size.
With the pictures out of the way, I then open up a writing app called Byword, which gives me a word count. As this is my story, with names and descriptions of the event in my notebook, I don’t need any outside reference material. I type the story using my bluetooth keyboard, then copy and paste it into GMail. Ping! Gone. Story and pictures in the office in less than half an hour.
But what if I had needed to call on extra information, such as, for example, whether the rescued man – whose name I had – was someone well known? I would need to refer to his background while writing. But flicking backwards and forwards from the writing page to a reference page on the iPad would be time-consuming and frustrating. Enter Side by Side, an app that allows me to split the screen so that I can write on one side and draw on reference material on the other.
Now, I could do all of the above with my MacBook Air and any other digital camera under the sun. But why would I need to lug the laptop around when, as the above example shows, I can do the job with my teeny-weeny equipment? So far I haven’t come across any major barriers to using the iPad mini on assignments and I’m particularly thankful for the 10-hour battery life and the much longer life of the bluetooth keyboard. My wi-fi dongle is good for about four hours but I hope I’m never going to need it for that long in one session before a recharge.
Yes, times have changed. I try to not only keep up with the Joneses but to stay one step ahead. That is until I sit on a train and see a teenage girl sending messages on her iPhone tapping away with her thumbs and not making any mistakes. I sit there dumbfounded. I’m no match for her. Thank heaven she’s not a journalist….