Tuesday, August 26, 2014


      Jakarta, Aug 26, 2014 (Antara) - The Surabaya municipal administration was finally granted the wildlife conservation permit expected to help save Surabaya Zoo from being closed down as many animals had died due to mismanagement over the past few years.
         While presenting the document to Surabaya Mayor Tri Rismaharini on August 8, 2014, Forestry Minister Zulkifli Hasan stated that the management of the zoo should be in accordance with the law on Natural Resource Conservation.
        "I have handed a decision of the Conservation Institution to the Surabaya mayor with regard to the Surabaya Zoo. So, I no longer owe anything to Surabaya. Under the decision, the zoo will serve as an education, recreation, and animal conservation center. Therefore, the zoo must not be managed like (it was done) in the past," Hasan noted.

         The permit will facilitate a crucial overhaul of the zoo and allow it to resume its animal exchange program, including sending sick animals to other better-equipped zoos and conservation centers where they can be provided better treatment.
         In the document, the Conservation Institution requires the management of the Surabaya Zoo to comply with Law No. 5/1990 on the conservation of biological resources and ecosystem.
         According to the permit, the cages for all animals in the zoo must be improved considerably to ensure that the animals feel comfortable akin to their natural habitat.
         The minister stressed that the city administration should focus on improving animal welfare. The animals must also be fed properly, according to Law No. 5/1990, the minister pointed out.
        "Any instance of violation of law or death of an animal will lead to a punishment of 5-10 years in prison for the management," he remarked.
         The Surabaya Zoo, located in East Java, was the biggest in Indonesia and Southeast Asia, with no less than 3.5 thousand animals belonging to 400 species of mammals, birds, and reptiles.
         The zoo was formally opened on August 31, 1916, during the Dutch colonial era, when a group of animal lovers came together and decided to open a zoological garden.
         However, a long-standing dispute between the two management teams of Surabaya Zoo resulted in the deaths of some 479 animals in 2006 and 258 animals in 2007. In 2008, the number of animal deaths increased to 364, and in 2009, it dropped to 321. In 2010, there were 162 deaths until September. In 2011, four Komodo dragons died and three went missing from the zoo.
         On January 7, 2014, a 1.5-year-old lion, Michael, was found dead under mysterious circumstances. The African lion died after getting its head caught in a cable inside its cage, triggering widespread condemnations not only in Indonesia but also worldwide.
         The Surabaya Zoo tragedy has dragged on incessantly, and the zoo has drawn flak internationally for its cruelty. It has been labeled as the "zoo of death" after thousands of animals perished over the past few years.
         On January 20, the Surabaya mayor reported the alleged mismanagement and graft occurring in the Surabaya Zoo, which led to the disappearance or deaths of around 420 rare animals, to the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK).
         Among the animals that went missing from the Surabaya Zoo, were two Komodo dragons and 50 Bali Starling (Leucopsar rothschildi) birds, she pointed out.
         After receiving the conservation permit, Mayor Tri Rismaharini announced her plans to make major changes in order to ensure comprehensive management of the city's zoo.
         She planned to expand the total area of animal enclosures, which included reclaiming an existing parking lot and building a new water treatment facility.
         The mayor, however, declined the proposal to raise Surabaya zoo's admission ticket price to Rp25 thousand from Rp15 thousand per person.
         "The zoo is not profit-oriented. Besides being allocated funds from the city budget, the zoo can earn income from advertisements," she recently noted.
         The mayor stressed that the zoo must remain a low-cost recreational spot for Surabaya residents. Thus, it must not follow in the path of other profit-seeking, regional government-owned companies.
         The city administration was ready to bear all the operating expenses of the zoo since it took over its management in mid-2013, she pointed out.
         The mayor explained that the city government had allocated Rp52 billion in funds to finance the operations of the zoo. The funds will be disbursed in stages, of which Rp10 billion will be provided this year.       
    Several parties had expressed interest to cooperate with the management of the zoo, particularly in feeding the animals. The cooperation will, of course, reduce the operating expenses, she explained.
         Surabaya Zoo President Director Ratna Achjuningrum recently noted that the annual operating costs averaging Rp1.7 billion were too high, considering that the zoo earned only Rp1.6 billion every year.
         Australia-based NGO Conservation and Environmental Education 4 Life (Cee4life), on its Facebook page titled "Surabaya Zoo Animal Welfare Action," lauded the Indonesian government's move to save the zoo.
         "Forestry Minister Zulkifli Hasan, who signed the long awaited paperwork for upgrading the Surabaya Zoo, has shown his understanding to the ethical care needed by animals in captivity," according to the statement issued by Cee4life.
         Last year, Cee4life had provided aid to the Surabaya Zoo for animal welfare and helped it to meet the dietary needs of its inhabitants. The NGO claimed that it was recently asked to provide 3-6 months training to the personnel of Surabaya Zoo. ***3***

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