Since my last blog about the ‘World’s Cruellest Zoo’ emails have continued to arrive from concerned people around the world asking what can be done to improve conditions for the animals.
What is gratifying is that an Indonesian website, Jakarta Globe, has now taken up the cause with a large article this week.
The Jakarta Globe’s article acknowledges the difficulties in fighting red tape – as I have previously pointed out – but this is a further voice in the chorus begging, pleading, the local authorities to get something done.
As I’ve already pointed out, simply closing the zoo down isn’t going to help the animals because no other zoo will take them, amid fears that their lack of care might have led to them being diseased.
An emaciated tiger was rescued and moved to another location months ago, but there are, of course, many other animals who have had to be left behind.
A relevant passage from the Jakarta Globe reads as follows and I congratulate them for their follow-up:
“[The Surabaya Zoo case] has been going on for five years. Everybody knows about it, but nothing’s changing,” said Femke den Haas, the founder of Jakarta Animal Aid Network, a local nonprofit dedicated to animal conservation.
In 2010, after an overhaul by the Forestry Ministry, management of the zoo was assigned to the Surabaya City Administration, but active management only started in July 2013.
The city plans to improve the zoo over three years. It has allocated Rp 60 billion ($4.9 million) to the zoo’s management over the next five years, according to a report by Republika.
In response to the Daily Mail’s report, Tri Rismaharini, the mayor of Surabaya, told local media last year that the zoo was improving.
A team from the University of Airlangga last year audited the zoo’s finances and animal inventory. According to Amelia, an officer from the economy and development division of the Surabaya City Administration, their report is now complete.
“Currently, we’re just waiting to present it to the mayor,” Amelia said last Tuesday.
The city had allocated Rp 5 billion for the zoo improvements as of last August.
“[This] is a classic example of what thousands of people already know and what conservation organizations have tried to aid with over the last years,” said Sybelle Foxcroft, the director of Conservation Environmental Education 4 Life (Cee4life) in an email last Thursday.
Cee4life is one of the conservation organizations who has offered aid to the Surabaya Zoo.
The organization assisted in moving a malnourished female tiger called Melani from the Surabaya Zoo to Taman Safari in Bogor.
“Cee4life has been supporting the care of Melani in Taman Safari and she is so much better now than we she was inside Surabaya,” Foxcroft said.
Foxcroft also travelled to Surabaya to meet the mayor last year. The mayor was unavailable at the time, but Foxcroft left a letter with an offer to help.
In her reply to Foxcroft, the mayor thanked Foxcroft for her sympathy, but gave little to no comment about Foxcroft’s offer.
“The mayor has been offered an enormous amount of aid from animal welfare organizations around the world, including Cee4life. However, she has refused all aid,” Foxcroft said.
“It is clearly obvious that numerous animals are dying under horrendous conditions at the zoo, but the mayor continues to ignore it all and pretend that nothing is happening. It is a shocking thing for the world to see.”
The Indonesian Zoo and Aquarium Association, known as PKBSI, said the problems in Surabaya Zoo didn’t just stem from a lack of expertise, but also politics.
“[We] acknowledge what’s going on with the Surabaya Zoo. Our organization has attempted and achieved several changes in improving animal welfare at the zoo, as well as its infrastructure and human resources, but with the mayor of Surabaya’s lack of understanding in conservation or zoo management — and influenced by a private staff that used to work at the zoo — the Surabaya Zoo case became even more complicated,” said Susi Lawati, PKBSI’s secretary in an email last Friday.
PKBSI is a nonprofit organization appointed by the Forestry Ministry in zoo accreditation and monitoring.