KUALA LUMPUR: Certain disgruntled individuals are using the Zoo Negara annual report on animal deaths to champion their own personal interest, said Malaysian Zoological Society chairman Datuk Ismail Hutson.
Ismail, who is also Zoo Negara acting director, claimed that the bad publicity generated from the annual report was an “internal sabotage” to give the zoo a bad image.
Ismail, who became the society's chairman a few months ago, said he believed that the bad publicity could be aimed at him.
Ismail was commenting on the annual report, which states that 20%, or 540 animals, had died there in 2001 and last year.
Last week, a news report quoted an unnamed source that the animals died because of a lack of qualified veterinarians.
“We are transparent in releasing the figures but some people are trying to stir things up and I feel very, very sad about this,” said Ismail.
“This thing happened particularly after the recent society's annual general meeting where some council members were not re-elected,” he added.
Ismail said he wondered why the number of animal deaths in 1999 and 2000 – which stood at 833 – was not highlighted although it was higher than the 2001/2002 figure.
“Perhaps they did not want to highlight this because if they do people will see there was actually an improvement,” he said.
“We had only one veterinarian in the zoo in 1999 and 2000. When we took in three more vets later, the number of deaths dropped,” he said.
Ismail said many of the 540 animals that died were those donated by the public, and these included animals that were sick and old.
“The worst thing that can happen to the zoo is the bad publicity,” he said.
He said three sponsors had indicated that they wanted to pull out due to the bad press.
“They are new sponsors who have been with us for two years. There are about 60 companies who have been with us since we started and they know the situation at the zoo better,” he said.
Ismail noted that it was time the zoo considered relocating as it was getting congested and was facing problems like floods and a lack of car park space.
He said the Selangor government had offered a piece of land for the zoo's new location at Bukit Cahaya in Shah Alam.
Two other locations that are under consideration are Bukit Cheding in Banting and Batang Kali in Selangor.
“I will recommend that the zoo be relocated,” said Ismail, who favoured the move to Bukit Cahaya.
Related Story:Report: 540 zoo animals died in last two years