Friday, 10 July 2009

‘Sisi’s’ death blamed on lack of care

Personal note: An investigator went to this zoo a few years ago and documented the truly barbaric conditions this orangutan was kept in.

Lack of resources and Philippine NGOs meant nothing was done to help Sisi. Before long we could find ourselves reading a similar type of obituary for orangutans in Indonesia especially, (and the Jakarta Zoo in particular), Malaysia, Thailand, Taiwan, etc.


Peta pushes zoo closure

By Tina Santos
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 02:35:00 07/10/2009

MANILA, Philippines -- Members of the animal rights group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (Peta) has renewed their call for the closure of Manila Zoo and Botanical Garden following the death of Sisi, the facility’s lone orangutan.

Dr. Donald Manalastas, the zoo’s chief veterinarian, said Sisi, a female orangutan about 33 to 35 years old, died on June 21 of multiple organ failure due to metastasized tumors.

“There were tumors all over her body which affected her organs,” Manalastas told the Philippine Daily Inquirer in a phone interview.

But as far as Peta is concerned, Sisi’s death was “an indication of how animals have been left in deteriorating health without proper veterinary care.”

“Because of a lack of funding and resources, the zoo’s infrastructure has disintegrated and conditions for animals have grown steadily worse,” said Peta director Jason Baker.

However, Manalastas assured Peta that the facility has been looking after the animals in its care.

“Sisi even exceeded her life expectancy which could mean that she was well taken care of,” the veterinarian added.

Peta, meanwhile, appealed to Mayor Alfredo Lim to abandon his plan of acquiring more animals for the Zoo.

Sad life, lonely death

“We believe that instead of incarcerating more animals, the zoo should shut its doors for good,” Baker said. “The best way to help wild animals is to protect their native habitats, not to put more of them behind bars. Sisi’s sad life and lonely death underscore the urgency of sending other animals at the Manila Zoo to sanctuaries and closing the decrepit facility once and for all.”

Upon learning of the orangutan’s death, Peta sent a funeral wreath to the zoo. The wreath included a ribbon with the message “Sisi: Suffered in Life, Peace in Death” and was accompanied by a card calling on zoo officials to close the facility.

According to the group, orangutans are extremely intelligent, socially complex animals. In the wild, they live an active life, traveling with their offspring, grooming one another, foraging for food, and constructing elaborate nests every night.

“But at the Manila Zoo, Sisi was denied the opportunity to fulfill her most basic needs,” Peta said. “She was torn from her Borneo home as a baby and lived a life of profound deprivation.”

On display in a cage

Since 1981, Peta added, Sisi had been incarcerated in a small concrete and steel enclosure that was often littered with plastic bags, bottle caps and rotting, fly-covered food; her water dish was filthy and often full of garbage. ***

“Although orangutans ordinarily shun human contact, Sisi was continually on display in a cage that was surrounded by noisy souvenir stands and food vendors,” it said. “She was provided with nothing to hold her interest or to help her pass the time, or stimulate her keen senses. And though orangutans are the world’s largest tree-dwelling animals, Sisi spent her life on the ground or clinging to cage bars.”

In the wake of Sisi’s death, Peta expressed its concern about the wellbeing of the other animals, particularly Mali, the elephant, at Manila Zoo.

In their natural habitats, many of the species kept at the zoo would roam territories that span hundreds of kilometers, but the entire zoo measures only 0.055 square kilometers, Peta said.

“As a result, many animals at Manila Zoo have been observed exhibiting neurotic behavior,” it added.

*** This could easily be describing many zoos in Indonesia.