THE movement control order (MCO) has affected Zoo Negara as lack of donations and ticket sales have forced it to use its emergency fund to cover its operating costs. It now has enough to last for about three months before the accounts run dry.
Many people would have good memories of visiting Zoo Negara. They might have been in awe of the animals or inspired by the diversity of wildlife they saw there. Some would even say their love for animals or wildlife began when they visited the zoo.
Of course, it is not ideal to keep animals away from their natural habitat, but human activity has caused problems that threaten wild animal populations. Due to human activities, such as the use of pesticides, deforestation and hunting of rare and endangered animals for their meat, skin and other parts, more species have become threatened in the 21st century than at any other time in history.
For the past 57 years, Zoo Negara has been working towards being one of the world’s premier zoological parks and aquaria. Today, it is vital for the survival of animals that are endangered in their natural habitats. Eighty-five per cent of the animals in Zoo Negara are endangered species and 15% are heading towards extinction.
Take the milky stork as an example. In 1987, there were only about 10 milky storks at Zoo Negara, but the population reached 224 birds in 2009. The zoo has given these birds the best conditions for breeding – food and a nesting place away from prying eyes. With the support of Perhilitan and the Malaysian Nature Society (MNS), the birds were released into the wild at Kuala Selangor Nature Park.
There are other species under the conservation programme at Zoo Negara. We know that if this programme is not done, future generations of Malaysians will not be able to see the species we are seeing today.
Think of what you remember about Zoo Negara. It is most likely the giraffes, zebras, lions and giant pandas; species from Africa or East Asia. But who is worrying about the Malaysian species such as milky storks, Malayan tiger, Borneo elephants, orang utan, black shrew, Malayan tapir and Sunda pangolin?
It’s our priority to protect the Malaysian species, as it is unlikely that any other country will take their time and money to ensure the survival of these species. Zoos may not be the perfect solution, but watching species disappear is not the right answer either.
Zoo Negara offers an opportunity for the public to adopt various animals and help out with their annual food, enrichment and veterinary care. These animals include Samba the lion, Flash the leopard, cute little penguins and many more. The money from your donations will help the zoo to provide good meals and healthcare for the various creatures there. If you have a chance to save an entire species from extinction, would you turn your back and walk away?
DR LEE J. PETER , Nilai, Negri Sembilan