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January 14, 2012

Stop permits for zoos

SAHABAT Alam Malaysia’s attention was drawn to an e-mail from a tourist diverted to us for follow-up action on a tiger exhibited in a small area at a cafe in Burau Bay, Langkawi.

A visit by SAM revealed a tiger on display at a cafe in an enclosed area, with a natural setting of grass and bamboo plants, while another exhibit next to the tiger enclosure displayed a marmoset.

There is intent to bring in a pair of tigers some time this year.

There are already zoos in theme parks and resorts.

Such being the case, it won’t be long before cafe outlets move in with plans for mini zoos, aviaries and/or aquarias.

The cafe claimed that the wild female animal presented by a zoo was not a hybrid.

When asked the purpose of keeping a tiger in a cafe, the management was quick to proclaim that it benefited education, and promoted the conservation of our endangered species whose number has dwindled to near extinction.

The permit for the keeping of this tiger was issued by the Wildlife Department, followed by periodic inspections of the animal.

What is a wild tiger doing in a cafe when ideally it should be in its natural habitat?

Another pair will be coming in later. If it is not for breeding purposes, what other reasons are there for the additional collection?

The cafe’s claim that the tiger is solely for education is totally unconvincing to SAM.

We maintain that zoos deliver a misleading and damaging message by implying (both implicitly and explicitly) that captivity is beneficial to species conservation, and that visitors are able to witness “wildlife” first-hand in the captive environment.

The cafe’s message directly contradicts that of many leading experts in the field of conservation and the overwhelming body of evidence that demonstrates that a species can be conserved only as part of its entire ecosystem; that is, habitat conservation is the only way in which effective conservation can be realised.

In addition, by virtue of their captive state, zoo animals do not behave as their wild counterparts, thus seeing an animal in a cafe does not educate about species life in the wild.

As a result, the captive animal represents a distorted view of its own species. Besides, what conservation value is the cafe promoting?

Upkeep of the tiger is from donations and fees charged for photographs of the tiger while having a cuppa.

Another form of entertainment for the public similar to Singapore Zoo’s “Breakfast with Ah Meng” programme carried out previously.

In the Langkawi case, it is more of enjoying your cuppa with a tiger.

By the very act of allowing a mini zoo in a cafe, the Natural Resources and Environment Ministry and the Wildlife Department are setting a bad precedent for all other cafes/outlets to follow.

It is ironic for the department to conduct seizures at poorly run zoos and badly managed animal facilities while continuously issuing permits for new animal establishments in, of all places, cafe outlets.

Our calls on the ministry and the department to terminate the issuing of permits to new zoos and all such animal facilities have fallen on deaf ears.

All these problems of poorly run and badly managed zoos would not have arisen if the ministry had not rushed into issuing permits with unseemly haste and without justification of need for new zoos.

Once again, SAM reiterates its stand to the ministry to cease once and for all permits for new zoos.

S.M. MOHD IDRIS,
President,
Sahabat Alam Malaysia.

Source: The Star

 

 

  
 
 
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