MCO: Bleak future for privately-owned zoological parks, says Mazpa

  • Nation
  • Monday, 30 Mar 2020

MELAKA: The Malaysian Association of Zoological Parks and Aquaria (Mazpa) is appealing to the government to provide them with financial assistance to save jobs and wildlife at privately-managed menageries.

Mazpa vice-chairman Gerard Wong Woon See said the movement control order (MCO) since March 18 had put tremendous pressure on the already tight financial situation of these zoological parks.

“We expect a bleak outlook for the privately-owned zoological parks, ” he said on Monday (March 30).

He added Mazpa is the only zoological association in the country with members from both government-owned and privately-owned zoological institutions. The association, he added, is involved in animal welfare and displays, research, breeding and wildlife conservation.

Wong said while government-owned zoological parks are better cushioned against the impact of Covid-19, privately-owned zoological parks on the other hand, face an entirely different situation where revenue is reduced to nil.

“It’s worth noting that wildlife has been classified as 'essential service' under the MCO which allows zoological parks to care for its animals.

“Animals continue to be fed and taken care of with zoological staff clocking in as usual, ” he added.

However, Wong said privately-owned zoological parks need adequate food supplies and pay salaries for staff during the MCO, although Mazpa members have pledged to continue to deliver the best for animal welfare even in times of crisis.

“With zero income, the situation is dire and Mazpa is appealing to the government to look into the plight of these zoological parks and provide necessary financial aid.”

Wong said with financial assistance, privately-owned zoological parks are able to stay afloat and remain competitive once the pandemic is over.

“These government financial aid, if any, will ensure that animal welfare is guaranteed, ” he said, adding that Mazpa fears that the days of privately-owned zoological parks are numbered.

Wong said among those impacted are Penang Bird Park (established 1988); Penang Entopia by Penang Butterfly Farm (established 1986); Langkawi Wildlife Park (established 2003); Selangor Farm in the City (established 2012); Selangor KL Tower Mini Zoo (established 2015); A Famosa Safari Wonderland (established 2001); and Melaka Butterfly and Reptile Sanctuary (established 1991).

He said many of these private-owned zoological parks are involved in extensive research, breeding and conservation activities of wildlife, where a substantial amount of investment was made in building laboratories, hiring and training of laboratory staff.

Wong said private zoological parks are also classified as “entertainment” by the government, and thus are taxable.

“These taxes are on top of zoological licensing fees, municipal licensing fees, company taxes and payments of fringe benefits for employees.”

Wong said without further subsidy for these privately-owned zoological parks, there are fears that the closure and retrenchment of staff will have to be carried out.

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