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Activists Call for Indonesia Zoo to Release 'Starving' Bears


FILE - In this March 10, 2012 photo, a moon bear which suffers from a skin tumor sits inside a cage at the quarantine section of Surabaya Zoo in Surabaya, East Java, Indonesia.

An Indonesian wildlife group on Thursday urged authorities to provide immediate medical care for, and free, captive bears it alleges are being starved in a zoo close to the capital, Jakarta.

The case is the latest instance of alleged animal cruelty in Indonesia, where illegal wildlife trade and practices are rampant and there is a record of lax law enforcement.

Scorpion Wildlife Trade Monitoring Group released a grim video this week showing emaciated sun bears waiting for visitors to throw food into their concrete enclosures in a privately-owned zoo in Indonesia's third-largest city, Bandung.

"These starving bears were first found in mid-2016," the group's senior investigator, Marison Guciano, told Reuters, adding there were 11 bears in all.

"The fastest and most important step is that we check their health. If they're sick, we treat them. We hope that these bears could be released from the cages of Bandung Zoo."

A zoo spokesman said government inspectors called in after the release of the video had declared the bears healthy.

"We have had people from the National Conservation Agency check up on the bears...and all are declared healthy," said the spokesman, Sudaryo, who has one name, as do many Indonesians.

Indonesia's second largest city of Surabaya is home to the "zoo of death," so called because dozens of animals have died there due to neglect.

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