Surabaya. The acting caretaker of the much-maligned Surabaya Zoo said on Tuesday that investment was urgently needed or the zoo might not have any animal left in as little as three years.
The zoo has been plagued by a string of recent deaths among its animals as well as charges of theft and sales of its animals by unscrupulous officials. In the latest incident, a giraffe died last week.
“Of course the animals will die if they are exposed to the heat and rain all day and night,” said Tony Sumampauw, the acting caretaker. “They can also be infected with diseases from wild animals like cats and rats. It’s no surprise some animals have suffered from tuberculosis.”
Tony said death and infection could be prevented if better spaces were provided for the animals.
The zoo had planned to build a larger open cage for giraffes, camels, zebras and several other animals, he said. Unfortunately, the zoo’s last giraffe died before the plan could materialize.
He said the new open cage, including a holding facility and corridors to check on the animal’s health, would cost billions of rupiah the zoo doesn’t have.
Now the ball is in the court of the Surabaya municipal administration, which Tony said needed to immediately set up a regional company specifically to manage the zoo. Under the current management, it would be difficult for the zoo to grow, he added.
“Keeping animals cannot be accurately budgeted. If an animal gets sick, money should be available to treat the animal,” he said.
If the zoo were managed under an office of the municipal administration, he said, a much lengthier and complicated process involving a series of meetings would be needed for the disbursement of any funds.
Baktiono, a city councilor, said the local legislative council had already given the green light for Surabaya municipal authorities to create a state enterprise to manage the zoo.
A state company, he said, could be more professional than the current system, he said. “We will be able to see the professionalism of the director through a fit and proper test before he is given the zoo to manage,” he added.
The Surabaya administration had earlier pushed for the zoo to be taken over by a unit of one of the city’s many offices, but the idea was vetoed by the Forestry Ministry, which is in favor of creating a state enterprise to manage it.
The ministry revoked the zoo management’s license in August last year and placed the facility under a new team, headed by Tony, from the Taman Safari park in Bogor, following a series of animal deaths.
The zoo had lost a Sumatran tiger, an African lion, a wallaby, a Komodo dragon, a babirusa cub, a Bawean deer, a crocodile and several birds in the space of just a few weeks. Three Komodos also went missing and were believed to have been sold into the exotic pet trade.