Apr 22 2016
Another Sumatran tiger has died at a notorious Indonesian zoo, where animals are ‘kept in filthy overcrowded cages’ and hundreds of them have perished prematurely in recent years because of neglect and abusive conditions.
UK Express The male tiger, named Rama, died of heart failure at the zoo in the city of Surabaya, on the main island of Java, spokeswoman Veronika Lanu said. Lanu defended the zoo after Rama’s death, insisting proper procedures had been followed surrounding the Sumatran tiger, which is a critically endangered species. “The death was due to natural causes, we provided the best care we could,” she said.
Surabaya Zoo has been dubbed the “death zoo” as so many animals have allegedly died there prematurely because of neglect. A giraffe died with 20kg of plastic bags in its stomach; where a Sumatran tiger’s digestive tract rotted away after it was routinely fed formaldehyde-laced meat; where an 18-month old lion got his head stuck between steel cables in his cage and strangled to death.
Following his death, it now has only three male Sumatran tigers and six females left. The management of Surabaya zoo, Indonesia’s largest, has been taken over by the city administration, but the deaths have not stopped and animal welfare groups continue to call for its closure.
The International Union for Conservation of Nature classifies the Sumatran tiger as an endangered species.
UK Daily Mail The world’s cruellest zoo has claimed another victim after an African lion was found hanging in its cage, it emerged today. The Surabaya Zoo in Indonesia, which has outraged readers around the world after an expose on the treatment of its animals, is being investigated by police following the death of the 18-month-old lion called Michael. But the lion’s body was removed before police were able to examine it and cannot now be found.
In the wake of Michael the lion’s death, zoo spokesman Agus Supangkat denied that his death was caused by zookeepers’ negligence. ‘We are still investigating how the steel cables could entrap the African lion’s head,’ he told the Globe. ‘Michael was relatively young. He was only one and a half years old.
A MailOnline investigation into the zoo before Christmas found numerous cases of animals living in miserable conditions, including a young elephant that was chained by three legs, one of which was ulcerated because of its tight shackles.
Dozens of petitions were started pleading for the zoo to be closed and animal rights groups have added their voice to the demands. But a management team, headed by the Surabaya Mayor, Mrs Tri Rismaharini, has resisted improvements saying they want to retain the original structures erected by Dutch colonialists in 1916.
UK Daily Mail The young elephant has tugged at his shackled hind leg so often that the manacles have cut through the flesh, leaving it raw. Not that freeing himself would help. A chain on his left front leg means he can move neither forwards, backwards nor sideways. The elephant’s owner has tethered the youngster because he prefers to tend to his small shop in the grounds of the Surabaya Zoo in Indonesia.
Money comes first. And so, day after day, week after week, the elephant stands there, being released from his chains only at the end of each day.
Anyone finding the scene depressing, and who turns away to look for more happy animals in the zoo would eventually leave, as I did, utterly depressed. Surabaya Zoo has been branded the worst in the world and when I walked through this animal torture ground I was left in no doubt its reputation was well earned.
In another cage, a sad rhinocerous hornbill looks up at the blue sky, trying to take off from its perch, but there is no room to flap its wings. Well over 50 animals have died here in the past three months, says Tony Sumampau, a former member of the zoo’s temporary management team, who had finally left in despair. ‘The keepers have stalls that they run selling food and drinks and it’s more important for them to make money than it is to be taking care of their animals.’
The state of the zoo’s animals came to world-wide attention following the death of a giraffe in 2012 that was found with no less than 20 kilograms of plastic bags in its stomach from people throwing candy bars at it.
The zoo, was opened in 1916 during Dutch colonial rule, and next to nothing has been done to improve it. Instead, more and more animals have been packed in. A report by an independent team set up by Indonesia’s forestry ministry called for the animals be moved to other zoos but nothing has been done. Other zoos refuse to take the animals because of their condition and the fear that many of them carrying diseases.
Sitting alone is another orangutan. I cannot believe what I see – she is chewing on the yellow top of a marker pen someone has thrown at her. She pushes it forward between her lips, then sucks it back into her mouth. I fear she will soon swallow it. Beside her, rats scurry in and out of holes in an embankment.
InfiniteFrogs For those of you who haven’t heard of this place, it first shot to internet infamy a few years ago, when the Jakarta Post coined the phrase “Zoo of Death” in an article about a deceased giraffe, which was found to have a 40 pound ball of plastic in its stomach. The story was shocking and the name stuck – particularly as Surabaya Zoo kept up the work of killing the wild animals it was meant to protect. Approximately 25 animals per month died or went missing at the zoo.
But the abuse goes back further than this. The East Java Natural Resources Conservation Agency (BKSDA) had previously conducted an investigation in August 2010, which found that negligent keepers, corruption, and filthy conditions were to blame for most of the animal deaths. It is alleged that zookeepers were stealing meat which they sold to the black market. Animals were also allegedly being stolen by the zookeepers and sold – dead or alive.
The zoo shot to stratospheric, “Ted-Bundy-like” infamy in 2012/13, when the story of Melani emerged. Melani, a 15 year old critically endangered Sumatran tiger, had been fed chemically tainted meat for several years, destroying her digestive system and causing her weight to drop to 44 kilograms — half the weight of a healthy tiger. Melani became the poster animal for the cause – the powerfully haunting images of her condition, amidst the backdrop of the disgusting cell in which she was kept, caused an internet storm of protest.
Throughout 2012 and 2013, internet campaigners and animal welfare group Cee4Life raised awareness of Melani’s plight in an effort to shame the Indonesian authorities into taking action. Global petitions containing 184,488 signatures were presented to Forestry Minister Zulkifli Hasan in in his Jakarta office in July 2013.
While at the meeting, the Minister appeared unmoved by the petitions, and the zoo administrators (who were surprise attendees at the meeting) even disputed the evidence presented. They claimed that the photos were fake, and that the animals were treated very well at Surabaya Zoo.
For example on July 13th 2013 under the cover of darkness, zoo staff attempted to clandestinely move four endangered hippos. Two dozen staff surrounded the hippos, and they were beaten with bamboo poles in an attempt to move them, causing facial and neck injuries.
Melani was rescued in June/July 2013, and is now receiving professional care. Dozens of other animals have also been rescued in the second half of 2013, although the Mayor of Surabaya has referred to them as stolen, and alleges that the administrators traded the animals for vehicles and other items.
The barbarity of the hanged lion images may finally have forced the authorities to act. On January 22nd, the Jakarta Globe reported that a high level meeting has resulted in the administrators of the zoo being sacked. “This definitive license (to administer the zoo) will be given to the mayor this week,” Forestry Minister Zulkifli Hasan said following a meeting with Surabaya Mayor Tri Rismaharini and President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.
Whether this leads to the improvement of the zoo is not certain. Mayor Rismaharini is deemed as popular with the citizens of Surabaya, who consider her to not be corrupt. However the mayor and her team have limited experience in the care of wild animals, and has often refused access to professionals wanting to better the care of the animals at Surabaya Zoo.
Cee4Life has published an open letter to the mayor begging her to allow professionals access to the animals, to which the mayor has not yet responded. It is also alleged she is refusing to update the outdated and cruel Victorian era enclosures, as she believes it would destroy the atmosphere of the zoo.
Only time will tell if the world’s worst zoo will be closed, or dragged into the modern world. One thing is for sure, the internet community is greatly helping the cause. You can add your voice by signing this author’s petition and the Cee4Life petition.