Tuesday September 18, 2012
Guidelines may force many private zoos to close shop
By SIMON KHOO
KUANTAN: Many private zoos and animal parks in the country are likely to close shop soon as they are finding it difficult to comply with the guidelines provided under the Wildlife Conservation Act.
Abdullah Ahmad Mahmood, president of the newly-formed Zoo Operators, Breeders, Wildlife Entrepreneurs and Animal Hobbyists Association said: “If the guidelines are not rescinded, it could result in the closure of many private zoos and it will affect the tourism industry.”
Citing the stipulation for enclosures under the Act, which came into effect on Feb 1 this year, he said all zoos were given six months to comply with the guidelines.
“Ironically, enforcement by officials from the Wildlife and National Parks Department (Perhilitan) has been carried out since January last year even before the actual guidelines were made available to zoo operators,” he said.
Abdullah said the specified sizes of the cages did not take into consideration the type of businesses involved. “Instead, it was a blanket ruling for all zoo operators, breeders, entrepreneurs and owners.”
He said a zoological park with a “safari” concept would have different sizes and space requirements, as compared to one with an exhibit placed in cages.
"The guidelines also does not differentiate between an adult and sub-adult species, newly-hatched or newly-born animals all of which have different requirements,” Abdullah said at his Deerland farm in Lanchang, about 140km from here.
“When we asked for clarifications, Perhilitan officials told us to do our own research and start rebuilding enclosures to avoid facing closure.”
Abdullah said every zoo operator had to also deposit between RM3,000 and RM5,000 for all animals for the purpose of costs incurred by the Government in seizing, keeping and maintaining seized wildlife.
Giving an example, he said a zoo with 100 crocodiles or deer would have to set aside some RM300,000, posing a huge financial burden to medium and smaller zoo operators.
Other issues include the classification of wildlife breeding farms, butterflies and insects industry, pet shops, livelihood of orang asli in catching insects, sizes of enclosures to be used for public exhibitions and constraints imposed on private breeders involving certain species of birds, mammals, reptiles and tarantulas.
Abdullah said the association was formed so that a memorandum could be submitted to the Natural Resources and Environment Ministry due to the flaws in the guidelines.
He said that so far, there was no new development although Natural Resources and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Douglas Uggah Embas had ordered a review.
Last month, Perhilitan shut down six zoos for being “unsanitary and unsafe”.
They are the Lye Huat Garden in Kedah, Kuala Krai Bird Park in Kelantan, Countryview Recreation Park in Pahang, PD Mini Zoo in Negri Sembilan, Taman Kuang, in Ajil, Terengganu and the Mines Wonderland in Selangor.