Surabaya. Surabaya Zoo in East Java, still in the national glare following a string of animal deaths, has once again courted controversy, this time over reports that a rare white tiger is on the brink of death after not receiving adequate care.
The health of the 17-year-old tiger, named Chandrika, has reportedly been declining for the past three months.
“Chandrika was not taken care by a medical team as required,” a source at the zoo told the Jakarta Globe on Tuesday, speaking on condition of anonymity. “She needs emergency care.”
The source said the tiger had never been given a medical check or had blood work or any other kinds of tests done to determine what she was suffering from.
The source said an outside party had offered to treat the animal, but zoo officials had refused. “Any day now she will die,” the source said.
Agus Supangkat, a spokesman for the zoo, confirmed that Chandrika was ill, but denied that she was on the verge of dying. He also attributed her poor condition to old age rather than lack of care.
He added she had lost a substantial amount of weight because she was toothless and had difficulty eating.
“So it’s normal for an old [tiger] to start getting ill, just as humans do when they turn old,” Agus said.
“We have been treating her and if there are people want to help, please do,” he said. “We’re open to help from anyone.”
Tony Sumampou, who headed a caretaker team that until last year managed the zoo, insisted that Chandrika was not ill because of old age, but ill treatment.
“To date she has never been treated, so just wait for her death,” he said. “Seventeen is old for a tiger, but Chandrika isn’t that old, and even if she is, that doesn’t mean she has to suffer that way.”
Zoo director Ratna Achjuningrum previously revealed that 84 animals at the zoo are in poor health, including Chandrika.
She said many of the animals fell ill “because of their own mistakes,” such as “being hyperactive” and “fighting among each other,” much like they would in the wild.
Chandrika’s fate mirrors that of Melani, a Sumatran tiger who was moved fromSurabaya to Taman Safari in West Java, headed by Tony, after falling so severely ill that officials at one point considered putting her down. She could not eat, her digestive tract having been ruined by years of being fed formaldehyde-tainted meat.
Cee4life, a conservation organization, reported on Sunday that Melani was making a marked recovery.