Permit to Run Surabaya Zoo Still In Doubt

By : Amir Tejo | on 11:28 AM February 14, 2014
Category : News, Featured

JAK105_INDONESIA-_0728_11_preview A zoo keeper comforts a newborn baby camel at the Surabaya zoo on July 28, 2011. (Reuters Photo/Sigit Pamungkas)

Surabaya. Officials at Surabaya Zoo remain confident they will soon get the wildlife conservation permit they need in order to complete the city administration’s takeover of the management of the facility, more than three weeks after the Forestry Ministry promised to issue it.

Agus Supangkat, a spokesman for the zoo, told the Jakarta Globe on Thursday that the permit could be issued as soon as today, while Surabaya Mayor Tri Rismaharini earlier this week said the permit would finally allow her administration to kick off a much-needed overhaul of the zoo.

However, a source at the zoo, speaking on condition of anonymity, told the Globe that the management would not get a conservation permit, but rather a “principal permit,” which would still leave it powerless to start making changes at the zoo and could be revoked at any time by the Forestry Ministry.

“It’s an entirely new and unproven management, so there’s no way they’ll get a conservation permit straight away. Just watch: it’ll be a principal permit,” the source said.

The source added that to qualify for a conservation permit, the zoo management would have to show that its employees were sufficiently qualified to handle wildlife — a long-running problem for the facility, which has been dubbed “the zoo of death” by the international media for the high number of animals that die under suspicious and often harrowing circumstances there.

The problem is rooted in a tug-of-war over control of the zoo, with many of the current employees reportedly getting their positions through nepotism rather than merit, according to former managers.

The source said the Forestry Ministry had told the Surabaya administration to get rid of the employees affiliated with any of the sides squabbling for control of the zoo, but that this had not been done because the current management, appointed by the mayor, was just as incompetent when it came to wildlife management.

“I have proof of one of the current managers saying that they did not understand how to arrange the animal enclosures or cages,” the source said.

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