Arya Dipa, The Jakarta Post, Bogor | Archipelago | Thu, January 30 2014, 8:56 AM
The management of Surabaya Zoo in East Java has been handed over to the Surabaya municipality under Mayor Tri Rismaharini, says Forestry Minister Zulkifli Hasan. The delegation of the conservation institution’s management rights is regarded as the best measure to save the wildlife at the zoo.
“I have signed the agreement today [Wednesday],” Zulkifli said as he launched the National Conference on the Conservation of the Javanese Leopard at the Indonesia Safari Park in Cisarua, Bogor.
Zulkifli added that the transfer in management aimed to improve conditions at the zoo, which has been the site of a protracted dispute and the death of a number of animals.
“The mayor has full authority. I believe the place needs to be revitalized. Let the mayor reorganize it so that the new management will create a different culture,” he added.
Zulkifli’s comments referred to the management dispute at the zoo, which resulted in the animals suffering. The previous management’s mind-set, added Zulkifli, still perceived the zoo as a place to observe animals.
Surabaya Zoo has repeatedly hit the headlines recently, due to eight of its animals dying within the last 10 months. The most recent death, that of a lion named Michael, occurred in early January this year. The 18-month-old lion was found hanging in its cage.
“In the world of conservation, animals should be provided with ample space to move around, not placed in small cages,” Zulkifli said.
Regarding wildlife conservation at the zoo, he said animal-exchange programs between zoos and conservation institutions was necessary so as to prevent inbreeding.
“This is a quote from a statement made by Environment Minister Balthasar Kambuaya. He said animals would lose their immunity if they were inbred. They would lose weight rapidly, despite being fed properly, due to a lack of stamina and good health,” he went on.
Meanwhile, secretary-general of the Indonesian Zoo Animals Association (PKBSI), Toni Sumampouw, said inbreeding decreased the genetic quality in animals, just as in humans.
“An animal’s genetic quality must be maintained at all conservation institutions. If inbreeding is allowed, it can lead to extinction,” Toni said.
Zulkifli said that besides preventing inbreeding, Surabaya Zoo’s new management needed to focus on the animal population at the zoo. “Relocating animals is allowed because the animals are owned by the state, which has entrusted them to these conservation institutions.”