KOTA KINABALU: Operators of roadside zoos must adhere to the terms and conditions set by the Sabah Wildlife Department (SWD), says Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Christina Liew.
Liew, who is also the Sabah Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister, said this in response to concerns raised by non-governmental organisation Friends of the Orangutans, regarding the poor condition of animals in roadside zoos.
The NGO's director Upreshpal Singh claimed there were roadside zoos located near the Sepilok area in Sandakan that have been keeping animals in dreadful conditions for years.
He alleged that these places usually did not have accreditation from a zoological association, and that the enclosures were not built to meet the specific needs of individual animals.
According to him, the poor diet for the animals was also common in these zoos.
Liew said although she was not aware of the roadside zoos, she will instruct SWD to investigate the matter to see if the claims were indeed true.
"No one can keep wildlife as their pets. You can't do that. There are terms and conditions you must adhere to," she told reporters at the World Rotary Day celebration (or 114th Rotary Anniversary) at the Suria Sabah mall Saturday (Feb 23).
In his letter published in The Star, Upreshpal said the term roadside zoo was loosely used to define a captive animal facility that is generally not managed by experienced zoo professionals and does not employ full-time veterinary personnel.
He urged members of the public to boycott such zoos.