Tuesday February 19, 2013
Animal activists and conservationists see red
By ISABELLE LAI
PETALING JAYA: Animal activists and conservationists want those behind the fatal poisoning of a horse and a Sun Bear at the Malacca Zoo to be caught, prosecuted and punished severely.
Dr Sharmini Paramasivam, of zoo animal welfare group myZOO, said a thorough investigation must be carried out to determine the motive behind the poisoning.
“We must take this very seriously and ensure our animals are not suffering. Placing animals in captivity means taking full responsibility for their well-being and health,” she said.
Zoo Negara deputy director Dr Muhammad Danial Felix described the killing as a “national outrage”.
Condemning the crime, he said the guilty must be harshly punished.
“Maintaining tight security at the zoo, including during the feeding of animals, is extremely important.
“If it is found to be an inside job, the culprit may killed the animals as a way to get noticed,” he said.
Wong Siew Te, founder of the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre, said the sun bear was a “Totally Protected species” in the peninsula, adding that the maximum penalty for killing such animals under the new Wildlife Conservation Act (2010) was a fine of RM100,000 and a jail term of up to three years.
The Sun Bear is classified as “vulnerable species” in the IUCN Red Book Listing of Threatened Species in 2007.
Wong said its global population had been declining over the past 30 years and if the trend continued, it would join the “Endangered Species” or “Critically” endangered species.
“The punishment for this crime should be significant and widely reported to deter potential offenders and raise awareness, “ he added.
Malacca SPCA chairman Vincent Low described the poisoning as a “dastardly and uncouth” act.
He said the heinous crime could be an inside job or committed by former workers who still had access to the animal enclosures.
Animal Concerns Research and Education Society executive director Louis Ng said the zoo management should take urgent measures to ensure only authorised staff were allowed into enclosures or places where animals were fed.
Wildlife trade monitoring network Traffic South-East Asia's regional director Dr William Schaedla said that if the poisoning was found to be premeditated and intentional, the culprit must be prosecuted and harshly punished.