Malaysian Palm Oil Council’s chief executive Dr Yusof Basiron has lashed out at the treatment of orang utans at
the Melbourne Zoo, describing it as deplorable and a disgrace.
Dr Yusof told Bernama he made a quick visit the zoo to check out the anti-palm oil signs outside the orang utan enclosures and was appalled at the way they were screaming for attention in the winter cold.
“They were shivering and making noises which I recognised them as distress calls,” he said.
“Orang utans are tropical animals and find it extremely hard to survive in biting cold temperatures. At the Melbourne zoo, orang utans had just sack cloth to cover themselves in the cold.
“But the sack cloth was small and they were struggling to get it round their huge bodies. I felt very sorry for these poor animals. Unlike human beings, orang utans cannot complain and their distress screams appeared to be ignored by
the zoo,” he said.
Dr Yusof said he could not believe his eyes when he saw food for the orang utans being place in the open so that zoo visitors could see how the animals ate.
“This was a poor show, just pandering to the delights of the people but to the extreme cruelty to the orang utans,” he said.
Yusof, who is accompanying the Minister of Plantation Industries and Commodities, Benard Dompok, on his eight-day working mission to Australia, said Australian animal welfare authorities should investigate “the pathetic conditions” for orang utans at the zoo as well as other zoos in Australia.
“It is utter cruelty to the orang utans. The zoo must understand these are animals from the tropics and adequate protection should be given to them during winter. Their enclosures must be warm and made comfortable.”
Dr Yusof suspects having the orang utans in such degrading captivity was to win public support in Australia in the campaign against a tropical industry and the use of palm oil products.
He said having anti-palm oil signs at the zoo was to win public sympathy and to misrepresent the orang utan issue.
“Australians must visit our orang utan sanctuaries in Malaysia and see how well the animals are taken care of.
“There is something sinister behind the campaign by western NGOs to ruin the palm oil industry,” he said.