Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Zoo raid shocks visitors in Kulaijaya, Johor

News source : The Star Online 22nd June 2011

Incidents of a Zoo being raided by the authority is a rare occurance in Malaysia.

In Kulaijaya, Johor, tourists visiting the Saleng Zoo were shocked to find officers from the Wildlife and National Parks Department (Perhilitan) raiding the premises.

20th June 2011 or Monday's operation marked the second day of the department's seizure of the animals which is expected to last a week.

Johor Perhilitan director Saharudin Anan said the operation, had been smooth.

“We have a veterinarian here at all times, who will tend to the animals and even accompany them during transport to their designated rescue centres in Malacca Zoo and Paya Indah Wetlands,” he said.

He added that animals seized yesterday included tigers, snakes, crocodiles, ostriches, wild boars and porcupines.

Saleng Zoo owner Chai Sit Yee said he had not received a reply to his appeal against the department's decision not to renew its operating permit.

“It is not that we are not willing to make improvements as suggested by the department such as expanding the animal enclosures and hiring more vets and staff.

“We just need a bit more time,” he said.

Senai assemblyman Ong Kow Meng, who visited the zoo yesterday, described the department's actions as “gross abuse of power”, adding that it was not proven that the zoo had violated the Wildlife Conservation Act.

Ong said he would help the zoo owners appeal and return the animals back to Saleng Zoo.

The Saleng Zoo has been operating since 1996 and, according to zookeeper J. Sivapriyan, hosts more than 2000 animals of 60 different species.

Singaporean businessman Terrence Wong, 45, who was with his family, said he had been to the zoo before.

“I thought that it looked quite well-maintained,” he said, adding that the animals appeared to be active and healthy although their enclosures were slightly small.

Indonesian Ronny Lie, 30, said he and his family had been looking forward to visiting the zoo as it was more convenient than travelling to the Malacca Zoo.

Frequent visitor Monaliza Mat Tahir, 33, said she was saddened by the officers' actions as she often came to feed the animals.

“I am very attached to the animals,” she said, adding that she hoped the authorities would reconsider their decision.

Another visitor V.S. Kumar, 56, questioned if the department could ensure that the animals would be well-treated during their transportation.

“What if the animals get hurt or die on the journey? Who will be responsible then?” he asked.

Bless the animals...

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