Pandas get VIP treatment, but not orang-utan – Jennifer Yeap
Published: 23 October 2014
While imported pandas are given VIP treatment daily at Zoo Negara, Katarina, an orang-utan who spends its days in squalid and deplorable conditions, is given quite the opposite treatment at the Kuala Lipis zoo in Pahang.
Katarina is a victim of the illegal wildlife trade.
It was kept as a pet and after it became too big to handle, it was given to the Kuala Lipis zoo. It has now spent a few years at a zoo which clearly does not receive proper funding.Anyone who visits this zoo will be able to tell it is not managed well. Many animals there require help, let alone delicate species, such as the orang-utan.
Supervision of animals at this zoo, like in almost every Malaysian zoo, is virtually non-existent.
Visitors can be seen feeding Katarina junk food and one visitor was stopped from tossing into the enclosure a lit cigarette hoping the orang-utan would smoke it. Can you imagine what happens every day at this zoo?
While the pandas at Zoo Negara receive daily enrichment without fail, Katarina receives none. It has nothing to keep its mind and body busy daily in its almost barren enclosure.
Orang-utans are extremely smart animals known to be as intelligent as young children and a lack of enclosure stimulation greatly affects their mental and physical health.
Katarina's night cage is also completely void of any bedding or enrichment tool and she is forced to sit on cold concrete daily for at least 12 hours. This is horrible treatment of an ape species which generates tonnes of income from tourism.
Though orang-utans are mostly solitary animals in the wild, they should never be forced to live all alone in captivity. Katarina has spent its days all alone for years now, with nothing to look forward to every day.
It is time she is relocated to the Matang Wildlife Centre in Sarawak, where the Sarawak Forestry Corporation (SFC) provides excellent captive care for orang-utans at its sanctuary.
Perhilitan, the Wildlife and Natural Parks Department, has sent orang-utans to Matang previously, and they can do it again for Katarina.
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has made it mandatory for all zoos in the US to provide enrichment for all non-human primates.
Zoos are also expected to show documentation of what enrichment they have been giving to a USDA inspector if they request it. Another USDA requirement is that if a zoo has a non-human primate living alone, it has to document why as they also regulate that non-human primates have social contact.
If orang-utans (and other primates for that matter) can be treated extremely well in a Western country well out of its range, orang-utans in Malaysia must be given equal if not better treatment.
A mind-blowing RM60 million so far has been spent on two pandas from China. The least the Natural Resource and Environment Ministry can do is to relocate Katarina to provide it the best possible treatment in Sarawak. The world is looking and waiting.
Friends of the Orangutans and our supporters around the world ask the ministry to transfer Katarina the suffering orang-utan to the Matang Wildlife Centre sanctuary in Sarawak now. – October 23, 2014.
* Jennifer Yeap is with Friends of the Orangutans.Kos Bela panda:
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