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WSPA applauds closure of cruel Malaysian zoo

Jun 22, 2011

A Lion in its tiny cage at the Saleng Zoo

The Malaysian Government has decided to shut down Saleng Zoo in Johor, due to its failure to meet basic animal welfare standards recently introduced into law.

The World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA), which last year helped establish the myZOO coalition, a group of NGOs working to eradicate the worst conditions for zoo animals in Malaysia, welcomes the move.

WSPA Wildlife Program Manager Chris Gee said: “WSPA welcomes tough action being taken by the Malaysian Government against zoos that do not care for their animals properly. This zoo failed to meet national, regional and international welfare standards on many counts, and consistently failed to contribute to conservation or education.

Government confiscates animals

The Malaysian Wildlife and National Parks Department (PERHILITAN) entered the zoo on Monday, in a confiscation operation expected to last over a week. The zoo has approximately 60 animals including bears, big cats, snakes and crocodiles, and had been the subject of numerous complaints to authorities. The zoo’s permit to operate has also been revoked. Animals are reportedly being removed and taken to another zoo with higher animal welfare standards, Malacca Zoo, and released into a protected area, Paya Indah Wetlands.

Prior to the action by PERHILITAN, myZOO wrote to the government stating that it had witnessed evidence of gross neglect and animal suffering at Saleng Zoo. Because improving the facilities would be difficult given the large number of animals and the lack of space, the group recommended closure of the facility.

Animals matter in Malaysia

Two baby Macaques in their cage

The government’s action was possible thanks to the introduction of Malaysia’s first zoo welfare law one year ago, which followed a pledge by Sultan Mizan Zainal Abidin in 2008 to encourage better welfare for all Malaysia’s animals by signing WSPA’s campaign for a Universal Declaration on Animal Welfare (UDAW). UDAW is a global WSPA campaign, with more than 2 million signatories, including national governments, to promote animal welfare standards.

Gee added: “This is a good first step, but there are many more animals in substandard conditions in zoos across Malaysia – and the world - that also need urgent help, WSPA thanks the dedicated local NGOs, especially the myZOO coalition and Malaysian public for raising zoo animal welfare concerns with the government.

Crocs already freed

Meanwhile, five crocodiles confiscated from Saleng Zoo have already been released into Paya Indah Wetlands, and have shown no stress in their new surroundings, according to PERHILITAN staff.

WSPA encourages any supporter with concerns over welfare at a particular zoo to approach the zoo itself, the national zoological association or, where unavailable, the national tourist board.

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