Animal welfare hasn’t improved in Johor Zoo

Johor Zoo, is known as the oldest zoo in South East Asia. It was established by Sultan Sir Ibrahim Ibni Almarhun Sultan Sir Abu Bakar in 1928.  The zoo was set up by him because of his love and interest towards animals.

The operation of the zoo was handed over to the Johor state government on April 1, 1962.  It sits on 12.5 acres of land and it is only one kilometer from the city of Johor Bahru.

The zoo was recently renovated amidst numerous allegations of the appalling conditions of its animals.

Johor Zoo is no stranger to animal cruelty or complicity in the illegal wildlife trade.

In 2010 it was found to be operating a shop inside the zoo which was openly selling illegal wildlife.  A report by Nature Alert, a UK based non-profit organization which works closely with Malaysian investigators, resulted in the closure and demolition of the shop.

In May 2011, Shirley, a chain-smoking, junk-food eating orang utan hit the headlines throughout the world.

Recently investigators discovered Paloh, a baby elephant with its front legs chained together and unable to lie down for at least 48 hours. The rope and chain prevented this baby from moving in any direction.  It was powerless to walk and she literally attempts tiny two-footed hops from side to side.

Subsequently, Shirley and Paloh, were removed from zoo by the Malaysian Department for Wildlife (Perlilitan).

Of the two tiger cubs produced through successful in breeding in October 2011, only one survived.  And this tiger cub is seen kept in a cage, measuring 3’ by 6’, just big enough for a dog.

A sunbear which was kept in a small cage, which restricts its movement, was highlighted on electronic media sometime back.  Till now, nothing was done to improve its condition.

With the enactment of the Wildlife Conservation Act 2010 (Act 716) in December 2010, cruelty to wildlife is finally recognized as a criminal offence, and enforcement agencies, such as Perhilitan are now endowed with the power to monitor wildlife displays and wildlife in captivity.

The closure of the Saleng Zoo in June 2011 demonstrates that Perhilitan is capable to taking positive action against errant zoos and wildlife facilities.

When asked to give his comment, the zoo manager, Zakaria Bin Razali, declined.  When pressed further he said he will not make any statement on whatever issues that was still present.