Thursday, 29 January 2009

Orangutans horrific treatment at Jakarta Zoo

A personal letter submitted to the Jakarta Post, as yet unpublished.

The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Dear Sir,

If anyone doubts the appalling conditions 32 orangutans are kept in at the Jakarta Zoo, I am willing to send them photographs I took just last week.

The zoo’s long-held, uncaring attitude towards these orangutans is nothing less than a national scandal. Orangutans, the most iconic of Indonesian animals, left to a 90 year old lady to care for with money from her own pension whilst the zoo squanders vast amounts of money restoring stone statues of animals at the front gate.

Despite repeated attempts over the past 12 months to persuade the zoo director and curator to remedy this disgraceful situation, neither has ever shown any interest. The Ministry of Forestry look upon these captive (though largely wild caught) orangutans much the same way as they look upon those in the rapidly disappearing forests they keep on selling; to the Ministry orangutans are nothing more than an inconvenience getting in the way of making serious money.

That the Jakarta Zoo chooses to neglect orangutans makes one wonder how the rest of the animals are treated.

Whilst writing, has anyone ever wondered how the Ministry of Forestry can be trusted to be responsible for wildlife when the Ministry itself single-handedly is responsible for selling off the forest which is the primary reason why these orangutans are in the zoo in the first place?

Is it not about time responsibility for protecting wildlife is transferred to the Ministry of the Environment? Under the Ministry of Forestry’s watch, on their own admission at least 75,000 orangutans have been killed in the past 25 years.

At this rate, left to them, soon there will only be a few orangutans in the wild, which of course may well be what the Ministry of Forestry wants. The question is, will the people of Indonesia stand by and let this happen? Watch this space.

Sean Whyte
Chief Executive
Nature Alert