Saturday, 18 July 2009



Thursday, July 16, 2009

Centre for Orangutan Protection (COP) is deeply saddened by the death of Toni, a Kalimantan Orangutan (Pongo Pygmaeus) of the Taru Jurug Animal Park - Taman Satwa Taru Jurug (TSTJ) - of the city of Solo, Central Java, last Sunday July 13. The death of Toni should not happened this soon. Poor treatment form TSTJ to animals had ended his life.

The sufferings Toni had been through should have ended several months earlier, by moving to a more comfortable and humane location: the Jogja Animal Rescue Center - Pusat Penyelamatan Satwa Jogja (PPSJ). But the offer from COP to take Toni -- temporarily before he could have a better, decent enclosure in TSTJ -- was flatly rejected by an official of Taru Jurug, Weni Ekayanti. Her refusal had cost a high price: Toni's life.

In April 2009, COP has conducted a research in 5 zoos of Java. The study showed that TSTJ of Solo is the worst. Orangutans in TSTJ suffered physically as well as mentally. Two orangutans who lived here displayed signs of mental deviance due to high stress. The condition had pushed COP to look for a better place for them. COP with PPSJ team had restored and refurbished enclosures for orangutans in Jogja.

Supports offered were rejected with no valid reason

COP has offered to temporarily relocate the two orangutans in TSTJ to the PPSJ in Jogja, in addition, COP also offered to support the cost to fund the relocation. Weni Ekayanti was the only official who did not approve the relocation of those two poorly-treated apes while the others have given their endorsements. COP and TSTJ had met several times, even the director of TSTJ himself had agreed with the proposal. But the zoo's poor managerial system that obliged a permit to be signed by everyone in the management board before it is issued had prevented the orangutans from having a better home.

COP has offered another option: the orangutans stay in TSTJ but their home is the small island in the middle of a lake inside the zoo. On this, Weni

responded: "The visitors will not have a good view of the orangutans."

Weni's policy is contradictory to the progressive perspective in modern zoos around the world that put all efforts to create a natural condition closest to the real thing. The common way is by giving the animals a secure place such as an island or an enclosure. In such way, visitors can watch happy and healthy orangutans almost like seeing them in their natural habitat. The condition of the mentally-ill orangutans in the Solo zoo is the right entertainment for mentally-ill audience indeed.

Permit from a line of officials have been issued, only one person intentionally obstructed the process of rescuing the orangutans to a better place. She misused her authority to arrange a decent living quarters for animals to reject the offer to improve living condition for the orangutans.

The Taru Jurug zoo has a terrible history. Three years ago, an orangutan died. She was the mother of the young orangutan who now lives in the zoo.

TSTJ has no medical records whatsoever on orangutans they cared for, they even do not know the age of the orangutans. Three months ago, a tiger died in this zoo.

How bad does TSTJ treat the orangutans?

Seto Wibowo, Coordinator of Captivity Program from COP, said, "Conditions of the orangutans in Solo zoo is very critical. There is no fresh water available all day and not any toy to safe them from being bored and stress."

They live their everyday life in the zoo miserably. Their living quarter was an open space with hard concrete floor, with no roof at all. They had to endure the scorching sun and rain and wind with no protection. One orangutan in an open space, another in a cramped cage of 1x2 meter. Of course there was no room to move around, and this has caused the younger orangutan to repeatedly hit its head to the wall.

"Visitors can give anything they like to the orangutans in TSTJ: food and even cigarettes. These people even hurt the orangutan intentionally," Seto said. "Toni quickly learned to like cigarettes and his health was consequently threatened.

Orangutans are not so different from humans, we both share 97.3% similar DNAs."

They only receive paper-wrapped plain rice -- only rice -- and a small plastic bag of water. No access to fresh water outside mealtimes. "The right food for orangutans are leaves and fruits, also insects. Not rice.

Even humans cannot drink just once a day," Seto emphasized.

The badly managed medical record in TSTJ has shown their unwillingness to take good care of the animals. According to the veterinarian of the zoo, the name of the last orangutan in TSTJ is Tori, a male. On the other hand, several months earlier during the research, COP team received data from the zoo caretaker that the young orangutan's name is Tina, a female. The COP team did not have close access to the orangutans since they were often caged and when they were temporarily release in turns to the enclosure, the team still could not assess whether it's a boy or girl because the orangutan is still young.

Toni is dead, and he still receive bad treatment from the zoo

When COP asked about the condition of Toni's corpse to the vet of TSTJ and the autopsy result, the respond was always: "No comment." No contact to Weni could be made either, always no respond.

According to Seto, an investigator from COP just convey that Toni has not been buried yet. His internal organs were taken out, and his corpse was preserved with formalin. This is the worst manner from a zoo to treat an endangered species who deserve to have their rights: buried decently.

We have to save the last orangutan in TSTJ

"Now there is only one orangutan in TSTJ. And the young one could face the same sad experience Toni had been through. But the horrific treatment can be prevented if TSTJ still has its conscience and will to uphold the welfare of the orangutans and not thinking of taking profit from visitors instead," Seto said.

"The present condition show the unwillingness of the management to improve the life quality of orangutans in TSTJ," he said. "We have to save the last orangutan in the zoo to a place where he can grow healthy -- physically and mentally. He also needs to have a social life with other orangutans. He cannot live through bad conditions he had faced for years:

eating plain rice and caged in a cramped room full of trash and insufficient water." The last orangutan is estimated about 6 year old.

COP demands TSTJ to immediately improve the zoo environment, particularly the treatment toward the animals and provision of decent food. No one has the right to obstruct the welfare of orangutans, all the more so when the reason is the arrogance of an official who felt her authority has been stepped over.