PETALING JAYA: Zoo and animal park operators nationwide are up in arms over the Department of Wildlife and National Parks' (Perhilitan) raids on zoos and confiscation of animals from zoos and parks around the country.
Malaysian Association of Zoological Parks and Aquaria said the action by Perhilitan had been “too fast and too drastic”.
“There is no clear communication between the department and park operators nationwide on the new Act or its guidelines. Zoo and park operators should be granted an appropriate grace period for them to comply.
“It should provide a written minimum standard as soon as possible for operators to comply to department specifications on animal welfare standards,” said association president Kevin Lazarus.
He said the Perhilitan audit team should comprise experienced zoologists, association members and those with the relevant experience to rate the facilities.
“If these operators cannot oblige after warnings, they should give up the animals,” said Lazarus, who claimed that the department was being pressured by non-governmental organisations and animal rights activists to carry out the raids.
An aggrieved private park owner, who only wanted to be known as Kong, was upset that his park was raided without any written warning.
Kong said that a Perhilitan Zoo Audit Team recently visited his park after which they verbally informed him that under the newly-implemented Wildlife Conservation Act 2010, his park needed to improve the living conditions.
“However, when I asked for the department's guidelines for zoos so that we could comply with them, the officers were unable to produce anything.”
He claimed that they seemed to be targeting zoos that were popular with tourists.
Another park owner, who only wanted to be known as Huat, said that in a meeting with Perhilitan last year, department officials promised zoos sufficient time to comply with the guidelines once they were gazetted.
“However, the department raided and confiscated animals from several zoos in Johor and Malacca without giving the operators time to comply. They have broken their promise to be fair in implementing the new Act.
“We are also worried about how our animals would be treated at Perhilitan holding facilities.”
He was concerned over reports that the department was having problems with the confiscated animals.
“If Perhilitan cannot do a better job than us, why subject the animals to the stress of transportation and a new environment?”
Huat, who lost 60% of his animals to Perhilitan, decided to close his animal park and is considering legal action against the department.