Golden Opportunity to Rescue Every Living Creature at World’s Wickedest Zoo

A blue moon hangs in the sky above Palembang Zoo where dozens of wild animals sleep on their dirt floors, unaware of their imminent rescue. Animal welfare advocates are gripping a profound opportunity to save every animal at this zoo, where nearly lifeless animals languish in empty cages, often without drinking water or even a simple tree branch. After years of extreme deprivation, some may wonder if it’s too late to awaken the wild ones here from their somber state. But rescuers are predicting a breathtaking transformation when the animals are moved to new homes with natural habitats aimed at nourishing them in both body and soul.

The closure of this Indonesian zoo is a rare event in contrast to the countless dilapidated zoos still operating worldwide, but thanks to a determined effort by Indonesian authorities, the door has been unlocked for this massive rescue operation. Jenny Desmond, a long time rescuer who serves as International Projects Director for the Harmony Fund charity, inspected the zoo recently and is now sleepless with anticipation.

A gibbon at the zoo lives in this barren cage with nothing to do. No foraging for food. No climbing. Not even a drink of water.

“Nothing could have prepared me for what I saw at Palembang Zoo,” explains Jenny who represents the Harmony Fund in a collaborative effort with the Indonesian Ministry of Forestry, Centre for Orangutan Protection (COP) and Animals Indonesia (AI). “I saw gibbons, the greatest acrobats of all time, sprawled out on the floors of their enclosures with nowhere to sit, much less climb or swing. I found a snake with a shattered face, a horse so thin her bones were like blades and declawed bears pacing back and forth. What hit me hardest was the absence of drinking water. The owners of this zoo cared so little, they could not be bothered to provide the most basic of all needs. My heart broke that day, but only for a moment.”

“At each cage I stood and looked into the eyes of these individuals who had been so cheated by humans and made a promise that I would come back,” Jenny says.

Last year, the zoo’s orangutan and tiger both died in their empty cages here. And although rescuers have temporarily secured daily water and food for the animals, there remains a sense of urgency and the very real threat that there will be a succession of deaths if the animals aren’t taken to safety soon.

Charity Prepares Rescue Operation

At this moment, government officials have signed a memorandum of understanding calling for the immediate shutdown of the zoo and the purchase of land for a new rescue center and way station that will not only impact the animals at the zoo today but also become a critical recovery zone for future animals confiscated from wildlife traffickers.

As one of the most biodiverse countries on earth, Indonesia also has the fourth largest human population in the world. As development increases, dangers to wildlife have escalated dramatically making the islands are now home to the highest number of internationally threatened mammals and birds.

The bears pace in empty cages. A drive is underway to raise funds to rescue all the animals here.

Though summer is traditionally a very poor time of year for charity drives, a hopeful initiative is underway to gather funds for the provision of veterinary medicines, nutritious food, staffing and more for the zoo’s victims. More here on how to help.


Jim Ven
Jim Ven2 years ago

thanks for the article.

Debbie Crowe
Debbie Crowe3 years ago

I sure hope all the animals are out of there by now!

Helen Mufford
Helen Mufford3 years ago

These people should be put in cages and left

JoAnn Paris
JoAnn Paris3 years ago

Thank you to everyone involved in helping these poor things.

Jennifer H.
Jennifer H3 years ago

Carole B. You are so right. Tammy D. You hit the nail on the head. There has to be some type of universal code or regulation that zoos should have to follow. Once they are out of bounds shut them down. It should not be allowed to get this far out of care that the animals suffer so badly. The picture of the gibbon - he looks dead. Humans are horrible.

savanna St. Claire

I hate this! Why haven't the ASPCA or some org stepping in to fix this. I think every zoo should be outlawed! Its nothing more then a prison for these beautiful creatures and they haven't committed a crime!

Carmen Baez
Past Member 3 years ago

Thank you for the article and blessings to everyone involved in this initiative :)

Carole Bailey
Carole Parkinson3 years ago

I am running out of words to keep describing the endless torture humans inflict on animals. It is so heartbreaking but warming too to know there is a bright light of humanity shining brightly willing to help these unfortunate creatures.

Waltraud U.
Waltraud U3 years ago


Tammy D.
Tammy D3 years ago

so sad, so disgusting. Do governments not have regulations in place for zoos? Shouldn't these places be inspected for at least the most basic of level of care? I think it's time for conservationists and zoologists to form a regulatory body that would be able to inspect and grade zoos and animal centers. If they can't shut them down, at least have an objective rating system that would allow patrons to know how their zoos fair, and which to avoid or petition for closure.