Pasuruan, East Java. The Ministry of Environment and Forestry has given the management of the vast majority of Indonesian zoos a piece of its mind, saying there are only four decent wildlife parks throughout the archipelago.
Indonesia currently has 58 registered zoos, but 54 of them are either deemed improper by the government or are not yet officially accredited.
Bambang Dahono Adji, the ministry’s director for conservation, said that only half of the nation's zoos had gone through the accreditation process, and that most failed to make the cut.
“Out of those 29 zoos, only 4 received the A-grade, meaning they are decent and appropriate,” he said on Saturday. "While the others were given Grade B [less than decent] or C [bad]."
The four zoos that do make the grade are Taman Safari Cisarua in West Java, Taman Safari Pasuruan in East Java, Taman Safari Gianyar in Bali, and Sea World in Jakarta.
The accreditation process is conducted once every five years by representatives from the government, veterinarians and other experts who look at animal welfare, animal death rates and the zoo's facilities, among other things.
“We will evaluate from time to time whether [a park's] accreditation result gets better or worse," Bambang said. "It’s possible for a Grade-A zoo to get a lower grade in its next accreditation. For those with Grade C, if they don’t get their act together, the ministry will recommend that their license be revoked.”
Bambang admitted that state-run zoos have been performing poorly, but he said he expected plenty of improvement in the near future, as the government has been investing in human resources.
Surabaya Zoo is the most notorious wildlife park in the country, for its high rate of animal deaths.
The zoo lost its permit in 2010 over a tug-of-war over control of the zoo by the previous management. The management fiasco resulted in the massive neglect of the animals and dozens of deaths, including of critically endangered species, and the loss of some animals suspected to have been sold into the illegal wildlife trade. But Surabaya Mayor Tri Rismaharini in August last year announced major changes in the running of the zoo.
Before the mayor stepped in, a lion was found strangled to death in its enclosure after getting tangled in a cable that was hanging loose near its door. And in 2012, the zoo’s only giraffe was found dead with a 20-kilogram ball of plastic trash in its stomach. The plastic was believed to have accumulated from trash thrown into the giraffe’s enclosure by visitors. There was also a case in 2011 of three baby Komodo dragons going missing — presumably sold into the illegal wildlife trade.