Surabaya. Within the span of just 11 hours on Wednesday, Surabaya Zoo lost two more animals, bringing to 11 the number of animal deaths this year at the facility dubbed by the international media the “zoo of death.”
Agus Supangkat, a spokesman for the zoo, confirmed on Wednesday that a female anoa — basically a miniature water buffalo — and a male dromedary camel were the latest animals to have died there. He said there was nothing unusual in the deaths, citing old age in the case of the anoa and a skin disease in the case of the camel.
“There are no physical bruises on the anoa’s body,” Agus said.
“We tried our best to save its life, especially considering how the anoa has been under the medical team’s watch.”
He said the anoa, named Happy, was on a list of 84 animals categorized in January as being ill or disabled.
The camel, Estem, was also on the list. He had reportedly been diagnosed with a skin disease several months earlier and the condition was said to have worsened recently.
“The medical team was actually able to treat the disease, but it flared up again,” Agus said.
Estem was among Surabaya Zoo’s first generation of camels, having arrived in the city from Australia in 1994 along with five other camels.
The six camels later reproduced, bringing the zoo’s camel collection to 20 animals, some of which were later traded to other zoos across Indonesia.
Agus said the remaining animals on the medical watch list were being constantly monitored by veterinarians.
“Those animals are under close watch because they are ill or are very old, and that’s why they need to be under the medical team’s watch,” he said as quoted by Merdeka.com.
“From the 84 that are under close watch [reported in January], three have died, leaving 81.”
The series of animal deaths at the zoo, dating back to 2006 and peaking at around 500 a year since then, have come amid a flurry of management changes and takeovers at the country’s oldest zoo.
The Surabaya administration is now in charge of the facility, but has been denied a much-needed conservation permit to run the zoo from the Forestry Ministry, leaving it powerless to implement the sweeping changes experts have called for to improve conditions there.
Animal rights group ProFauna has urged an extra day of closure a week at the zoo to allow the animals to rest, in addition to the weekly day off to clean their enclosures.
A similar policy was recently ratified through a gubernatorial decree for Jakarta’s Ragunan Zoo.
“It would be good for minimizing [the animals’] stress,” ProFauna Indonesia advisory board member Wita Wahyudi, a veterinarian, said on Tuesday as quoted by Tempo.co.
She said the Ragunan management had set a good precedent that other zoos throughout Indonesia should emulate.
Agus said the zoo was considering the proposal, but noted that shorter operating hours had been implemented precisely to allow the animals to rest more.