KOTA KINABALU: The deaths of an orang utan and a clouded leopard at the Lok Kawi Wildlife Park this year were due to natural illness, a state wildlife veterinary official Dr Symporosa Sipangkul said.
She said that the orang utan suffered from a bacterial infection (melioidosis) that affected its vital organs that triggered the death of the endangered species while the clouded leopard succumbed to its longstanding heart and kidney ailments.
Dr Sipangkul, who is officer in charge the wildlife park, disclosed the deaths amid a social media storm over the upkeep of the animals and the alleged hushing up of deaths of the animals in the zoo.
She said in the case of the five-year-old orang utan’s death due to melioidosis infection was reported to the Wildlife Department and the Veterinary Department as it mandatory for them to report deaths by the highly contagious disease.
“We are not hiding anything,” she said in explaining that the clouded leopard was a rescued cat that was already suffering from congenial heart disease when it was brought to the park in 2008.
“The death of the clouded leopard was expected,” she said but dismissed claims that a proboscis monkey had died at the park this year as untrue.
She said the park received an allocation of RM4.5mil a year for the animal feed, supplements and medicines which were sufficient to meet the requirements of the 30 mammals, 45 birds and 15 reptiles at the park.
“We want to ensure that the animals in captivity do not grow too fat.
“We want to ensure they are healthy,” Dr Sipangkul told reporters at briefing after a tour of the park in Lok Kawi here.
Explaining why the three Malayan tigers – a male and two females – donated by the Melaka Zoo were kept separately, Dr Sipangkul said that they were “brother and sisters” and they were avoiding them from inbreeding.
“They have some contact with each other but we do not allow them to breed,” she added.
For the 15 Borneo pygmy elephants all of which were rescued, she said that they were working with Public Works Department to increase the enclosure space as the large animals need more space to move around.
She said they were also upgrading the sun bear and tiger enclosures as part of maintenance to the park facilities.
Dr Sipangkul said that they could only use about 28ha of the 80ha hill locked area. The current used up area was just enough for the mammals currently at the park though they may be able to take in smaller animals and birds.
Sabah Wildlife Department director Augustine Tuuga said that it had proposed to move the wildlife park to more spacious area in nearby 180ha Sugud native forest reserve area.
“We needs funds and approval from residents of the area,” he said.
Some 100,000 people visit the park annually. — By MUGUNTAN VANAR