Wednesday, 7 April 2010

Let orang utans be

Wednesday April 7, 2010 The Star, Malaysia

Let orang utans be

SAHABAT Alam Malaysia (SAM) strongly opposes the plan to set up an orang utan sanctuary in Kuala Lumpur. We do not need another primate sanctuary where animals are treated like humans and hand-raised in nappies in a nursery.

There are adequate numbers of orang utans on display in zoos and theme parks. However, drastic improvements to meet the orang utan’s specific needs are sorely lacking in such facilities.

The proposed sanctuary can be construed as the development of another tourist attraction and has little to do with the welfare of the orang utan.

It has no relevance to conservation or to the well-being of orang utans. It is just another zoo or animal park.

A real sanctuary for orang utans would require considerable area, more than would be available in an urban area, and would have controlled (limited) access to the public.
In addition to the need for space – although orang utans are social animals they are not very gregarious – problems of pollution in an urban environment could affect them physiologically and behaviourally.

In cases of air pollution, apes are prone to respiratory problems. And there would also be the disturbing effects of both noise and light pollution in an urban area.

Orang utans are accustomed to heat and humidity, and air conditioned buildings for the comfort of tourists might well result in them becoming ill. The possibility of them contracting any human respiratory viruses is real.

It is SAM’s fervent belief that no wild animal should be kept in captivity as a rule. There is simply no way that any captive situation could possibly be appropriate for orang utans.
These individuals need large areas of forest, with tall trees and a suitable food source. They need to be able to interact with other orang utans of their choosing when desiring companionship or when mating. They need to be integrated into the ecosystem and contribute to it in a natural way, not only for their own species but for the continued strength and survival of other species.

When kept in captivity, none of this can occur. Just providing food and water and a semblance of their habitat in a zoo or other captive situation is not sufficient.

SAM calls on the Government to instead use the funds for the proposed project to preserve the original habitat of the primates and in the improvement of existing zoos and all animal establishments.

President, Sahabat Alam Malaysia (SAM).