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Tuesday, 26 March, 2002, 10:42 GMT
Indonesian zoos' 'shocking cruelty'
Caged lion   WSPA
One of the lions WSPA found in a zoo in Indonesia
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By Alex Kirby
BBC News Online environment correspondent
An international animal charity, the World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA), says some zoos in Indonesia condemn many of their animals to cruelty and neglect.

Almost all, it says, failed to provide for some of the animals' most basic needs.

Half the animals seen by investigators had inadequate access to water. Many were starved or beaten to make them perform for visitors.

WSPA and one of its Indonesian member societies, Animal Conservation for Life (KSBK), have published a report, Caged Cruelty - An Inquiry Into Indonesian Zoos.

Cramped and dirty

It describes what their investigators found in a series of visits to ten zoos over five months in 2001.

The report says:

  • 99% of the enclosures seen "failed to accommodate the basic biological and behavioural needs of the animals"
  • 82% failed to provide enough space
  • 68% of the zoos left enclosures filthy for prolonged periods
  • "around half" of the animals seen did not have sufficient access to water, which was often available only from the stagnant ditches round their enclosures.
At one animal park in Java, investigators found an orang-utan kept in a rusting iron and concrete cage filled with rubbish.

Caged orang-utan   WSPA
Close confinement for an orang-utan
"Nearby, two other orang-utans, a mother and her baby, were found in an iron cage measuring 0.7 by 0.7 by two metres - about the size of a telephone box laid on its side."

In a park in Bali, they found a monkey, a pig-tailed macaque, kept in a cage so small it could not lie down properly, and with one leg chained to the bars.

Nearby, seven underfed lions were kept in cages measuring three square metres, with little shelter from the elements. Some were chained by the neck and had maggot-infested sores.

At another Javanese zoo were three elephants chained by their legs and able to move only a metre in any direction. One of them was chained by three legs.

Obvious misery

At many of the zoos, the report says, visitors were encouraged to feed the animals ice cream and sweets, and some were seen to offer orang-utans cigarettes.

Pig-tailed macaque   WSPA
A macaque chained to a crate
At 80% of the zoos there were animal shows, "with orang-utans, bears and otters beaten and starved to make them perform".

The report says about half the animals showed evidence of stereotypical behaviour, a form of mental distress often found in captive animals, which manifested itself in repeated pacing or swaying.

It says the investigators also found evidence of an illegal trade in zoo animals like tigers and sun bears, "often after they have been falsely recorded as having died".

No refuge

All the zoos visited are members of the South East Asian Zoos Association (Seaza), whose stated aim is to "develop and maintain high standards of animal displays and welfare..."

Rob Laidlaw of WSPA said: "Indonesia is home to some of the worst zoos in the world today. These places are little more than squalid venues for the entertainment of overseas visitors and have nothing to do with animal welfare or conservation of endangered species."

WSPA and KSBK want animal shows ended immediately, and the closure of Perancak animal park in Bali, which they say was the worst zoo they saw.

They also want Indonesia to enact a national animal welfare law and a zoo licensing act.

See also:

27 Jan 02 | South Asia
Afghans saddened by lion's death
25 Jan 02 | England
Zoo joins anti-bushmeat campaign
20 May 01 | Sci/Tech
Great apes in peril
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