Lok Kawi Wildlife park has come under the spotlight again for the way it is handling the animals recently.
Citizen Journalists Malaysia (CJMY) had earlier published a photoblog on the state of animals in the park on April 3, which showed animals that were distressed, having skin diseases, looking lethargic, or have completely stopped responding to its environment.
The following day, Borneo Post highlighted the park officials refuting claims of animal abuse after an environmental activist wrote to Wildlife Department and State Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister, Masidi Manjun
Sabah Wildlife department senior veterinarian Dr Sen Nathan, who is also officer in-charge for the Lok Kawi Wildlife Park, reckoned that the behavior of the animals is stereotypical.
“We don’t live in an ideal world. I know some people think that zoos should not exist. There are always pros and cons. I would want you and the public to know that our animals are in good hands,” said Dr Sen Nathan, who made reference to the suggestion by CJMY editor that animals should be carefree and behaving as they would in the wild.
Senior park ranger, Jibius Dausip explained that the reason sun bear behaving in an abnormal way as sighted by CJMY, was probably because it is waiting for the pen door to be opened for it to access the food behind public viewing gallery.
He also said that the cat was seen staring blank because nocturnal animals tend to be passive during the day and only becomes active in the night.
Jibius and veterinary officer Rosa Sipangkui, who took CJMY for a site visit around the park, assured that all the animals are well taken care of and that the majority of the park’s visitors have little grouses with the flora and the fauna.
Lack of funds
Dr Sen said despite being the second poorest state in Malaysia, Sabah government is still providing funds for the operations of the zoo.
“You cannot compare us with, say, Singapore. I say this because Singapore has one of the best in this part of the world. We are a new zoo. We started in 2007 whilst Singapore started in 1971,” said Dr Sen, who declined to be interviewed on video.
“Our sun bear enclosure was built at RM300,000 whilst Singapore’s cost S$4million,”
Lok Kawi Wildlife park is no stranger to controversies. In 2007, an orang utan was drowned in a moat, which is within the enclosure. Tourist also has complained of seeing handlers mishandling the animals by beating and feeding junk foods.