Natural Resources Minister to meet Zoo Negara management to discuss improving ops


PETALING JAYA: Energy and Natural Resources Minister Datuk Dr Shamsul Anuar Nasarah will be meeting with the Zoo Negara management on Thursday (Dec 3) to discuss various mechanisms to improve its operations after the national zoo's revenue was affected by the conditional movement control order (MCO).

He said between January and September this year, Zoo Negara managed to collect donations amounting to RM10.6mil from various parties in the form of financial assistance and food.

"Based on its expenditure record, this amount should be more than enough to provide for the food of the animals. Zoo Negara must manage the donations that it receives in a transparent and prudent manner.

"I will be having a meeting with the Zoo Negara management on Thursday to discuss mechanisms to improve operations, especially in the aspect of administration, so that it can be more viable while ensuring the welfare of the wildlife," he said Wednesday (Dec 2).

The ministry, he added, would continue to help Zoo Negara although it is owned by a non-governmental group and run as a business entity.

"A wildlife welfare fund amounting to RM1.3mil has been channelled to Zoo Negara on April 10 to pay for food for wildlife, husbandry management and medicine.

"A 15% discount on monthly electric bills for a period of six months has also been given under the economic stimulus package," said Dr Shamsul Anuar, adding that so far, the government had given over RM50mil for various projects to upgrade Zoo Negara since the Seventh Malaysia Plan.

On calls by various groups and members of the public for the Giant Panda pair to be returned to China due to the high maintenance costs, he said any decision would have to take into account the agreement signed between the Malaysian and Chinese governments.

The Malaysia-China Giant Panda International Conservation Agreement, he said, was signed for a period of 10 years beginning from 2014, which was the year the Giant Panda pair arrived in Malaysia.

The agreement to loan the pair to Malaysia, he said, was a sign of the special relationship enjoyed between the two countries since the establishment of diplomatic ties in 1974.

Under the agreement, any cub born in Malaysia would have to be returned to China when it reached 24 months and not more than four years.

"Yi Yi, who turned two on January 14 this year, should have been returned to China in April but this was delayed until now because the conservation centre in China is still closed due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The ministry will return Yi Yi as soon as possible on a date to be agreed upon by China," he added.

Dr Shamsul said originally, the government had intended to place the panda pair in Putrajaya but it considered a request by the Malaysian Zoological Society to place the animals in Zoo Negara.

"Under the agreement signed between Perhilitan and the Malaysian Zoological Society on June 22, 2013, the government will develop the Giant Panda Conservation Centre (in Zoo Negara) as well as pay the annual conservation fees while the society will bear the insurance, the fee for the cub, the costs of returning the cub as well as its management operations.

"As a caring gesture, the government has borne the fee for the cub and the costs of returning the first cub, Nuan Nuan, in 2017, as well as paying for a Giant Panda expert from China to be stationed at the centre," he said.

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