Last week a 30 year-old giraffe named Kliwon died because of a 40-pound wad of indigestible plastic and trash stuck in its belly. For years the animal had been eating whatever it could find to stop from starving to death at the Surabaya Zoo. The tragedy is nothing new for the largest zoo in Indonesia where a reported 15 animals die each week from preventable diseases.
With up to 4,000 of the rarest animals in the world residing there, popular Surabaya Zoo should be the shining star of Southeast Asia zoos, but instead the institution has gotten most of its fame for the crowded, dirty, and inhumane conditions where the animal inhabitants are forced to live.
The death of the last remaining giraffe at the zoo must serve as the final plea to the Indonesia government to save these animals. Surabaya Zoo is a nearly 100 year old facility that requires a complete renovation or needs to be closed-down.
Two years ago promises of reform were made by the government after events led to the death of a Sumatran tiger, an African lion, a wallaby, a Komodo dragon, a babirusa cub, a Bawean deer, a crocodile and several birds.
During that time 25 animals were dying at the zoo every month from “hunger, lack of exercise and overcrowding.”
There were also concerns about uncontrolled breeding, lack of general animal care and suspicions that staff members were involved in illegal wildlife trafficking.
Unfortunately, these issues still plaque the zoo today.
Tony Sumampauw was appointed by the government as the zoo’s interim director, but he hasn’t been able to correct the zoo’s many problems. He told the AP that “nothing short of a ‘total renovation’ is needed to turn around conditions.”
He blamed the low $2 per person entry fee for not generating enough revenue to provide proper care and birth control for the animals. “If something isn’t done quickly, the zoo will not have any animals left in as little as three years,” predicted Sumampauw.
The government is conflicted about how to handle the immense problems. The city government wants to hand over management responsibilities to a larger government body such as the Forestry Ministry, but that agency doesn’t want the job. Estimates to overhaul the deteriorating buildings and improve the living conditions for the animals are $5.5 million.
The Director General of Forest Protection and Nature Conservation at the Forestry Ministry said he respects the city’s hope to keep popular zoo open, but would prefer seeing the animals being relocated to zoos that can better care for them. He explained the Jakarta and Singapore zoos are “waiting in line” to have the Surabaya animals live at their zoos.
TAKE ACTION: Please don’t let Kliwon’s death be in vain. Sign the Petition to Save The Animals At Surabaya Zoo.
Photo Credit: MartinPettitt