A petition imploring Indonesia President Joko Widodo and Minister of Environment and Forestry, Siti Nurbaya Bakar, to shut down the Bandung Zoo on Change.com has so far garnered more than 704,900 signatures. The petition was started after video of what appear to be emaciated Sun Bears (also known as honey bears) was posted on social media sites, including that of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (Peta).
In the video above posted by Scorpion Wildlife Trade Monitoring Group, Sun Bears in a dirty moated pen can be seen scurrying for food thrown from visitors. One faces in the direction of the camera and swings its head from side to side; a clear sign, according to Peta, of ‘zoochosis‘, a captivity-induced mental illness.
The latest video shows little difference in the condition of the Sun Bears when compared with the video below, said to have been shot at the same zoo last year, with the exception that the most emaciated looking Sun Bear in the first video can not be seen in the second. No explanation as to why the Sun Bear was not seen has been provided.
The smallest of the bear family, adult Sun Bears are about 120–150cm (47–59 inches) long and weigh between 27 and 80kg (60 –176lbs).
|In this video said to have been shot at Bandung Zoo what appears to be emaciated Sun Bears beg for food
Video uploaded to YouTube by: Scorpion Wildlife Trade Monitoring Group
The poor treatment of animals in Indonesia zoos is not new. In 2013 video of an emaciated, rare Sumatran tiger in Surabaya Zoo elicited an international outcry, with netizens dubbing the Surabaya Zoo at the time a ‘death zoo’ .
|The emaciated condition of Melanie the Sumatran tiger at Surabaya Zoo illicited an international outcry
Video uploaded to YouTube by: Tony z.top
Despite ministerial intervention and a transfer to Taman Safari in Bogor, where a team of foreign veterinarians and volunteers from CEE4LifeAustralia worked frantically to save the apex predator, the years of abuse and neglect, including having been fed meat tainted with formaldehyde, a known human carcinogen that is commonly used as a biological preserving medium, proved too much and Melanie died on September 2, 2014.
|Despite the best efforts of veterinarians and volunteers Melanie the Sumatran tiger died a year after being removed from Surabaya Zoo
Video uploaded to YouTube by: CEE4LifeAustralia
In 2012 a giraffe that died at Surabaya Zoo was found to have 20 kg (44lbs) of plastic bags in its stomach, while in 2014 disturbing video of a clearly distressed adolescent elephant shackled by one front and one rear leg unable to get to its feat due to the shortness of the restraining chains was posted online.
|Disturbing video from Surabaya Zoo in 2014 of a clearly distressed adolescent elephant
Video uploaded to YouTube by: OTTO Izakaya
Bandung Zoo: Indonesia’s Latest ‘Death Zoo’
Now the title of ‘death zoo’ has been applied to Bandung Zoo. The videos of starving Sun Bears posted in support of the petition by Peta are only the latest to surface showing the condition inside Bandung Zoo, and follow the death there last year of a 34-year-old Sumatran elephant named ‘Yani’.
Although Bandung Zoo was closed in the wake of Yani’s death – West Java Natural Resources Conservation Agency head Sylvana Ratina telling journalists at the time “This is a clear case of neglect“– it has been allowed to reopen.
At the time Bandung Zoo attempted to deflect blame – while confirming accusations of neglect – claiming it had ‘not been able to find a veterinarian with experience in handling wild animals’ following the departure of its previous veterinarian a year prior.
In support of the Change.org petition sponsor P Holmes says the Sun Bears at Bandung Zoo are so hungry they have been seen to eat their own faeces.
He also claims Bandung Zoo still does not currently have its own veterinarian. However, a January 18, 2017 story in The Jakarta Post notes: ‘The zoo operator employs two in-house vets since July, after the Forestry and Environment Ministry threatened to revoke its license’.
In an email to AEC News Today Peta Asia vice president of international campaigns, Jason Baker, described Indonesia zoos as “a virtual hell on Earth.
“Animals at zoos in Indonesia are confined to severely crowded, filthy, inadequate enclosures that are measly fractions of the wild habitats that they would call home. There is often nothing in their cages and pens to occupy their keen minds”.
Mr Baker said it comes as “no surprise that the tag ‘death zoo’ is now also being applied to Bandung Zoo, where a long list of animals have gone missing or died”.
Criticising Indonesia officials over their lack of action, Mr Baker said “PETA has written to countless officials in Indonesia over the years to take action and release animals at zoos in Indonesia to more suitable environments. There can be no justification for seemingly endless debates and delays while animals continue to suffer and die”.
The offices of Indonesia President Widodo and Ms Bakar did not immediately respond to requests for comments relating to the petition to close Bandung Zoo, Indonesia’s latest ‘death zoo’.
Feature video uploaded to YouTube by Scorpion Wildlife Trade Monitoring Group
- Uproar over plight of sun bears at Bandung Zoo (The Straits Times)
- Zoo defends conditions following video of sun bears begging for food (The Jakarta Post)
- Indonesian zoo accused of ‘starving’ sun bears by activists (BBC)