After various run-ins with the law, the Saleng Zoo near Kulai, Johor finally ceased operations recently as Department of Wildlife and National Park officers seized their animals over a one-week period late last month.
The department workers, who had arrived in several trucks, confiscated the animals, after the Perhilitan director-general had in April rejected the zoo’s application for a license renewal.
“The renewal application has been rejected, so the zoo does not have the license to posses these animals any further. Additionally, an appeal can be filed with the relevant Ministry (Natural Resources and Environment) but the appeal was also turned down,” explained Perhilitan director Shaharudin while met at the zoo by citizen journalist Hedges Sun.
He revealed that the confiscated animals would be placed under temporary care at other zoos such as the Paya Indah Wetlands in Dengkil and the Malacca Zoo until they are relocated to a new home.
Meanwhile, the zookeeper Sivapriyan pinned the blame on Natural Resources and Environment Minister Douglas Uggah Embas, claiming that minister refused to meet him several times.
“I tried to meet him some eight of nine times, but to no avail. I can show you proof that I treat my animals well. You can see how close I am to my tigers. I raised them like my own children,” said an emotional Sivapriyan.
“What can I do if they just change the law like that?” he asked, enraged. He however did not specify what was the amended law.
The move by the Wildlife Department to shut down the zoo was lauded several environmental NGOs last month.