AN INDONESIAN zoo has announced it will no longer force sun bears and orangutans to perform for food after an international outcry.
The Lembah Hijau Zoo in Lampung on the Indonesian island of Sumatra was shamed in a video posted by local activist group the Scorpion Wildlife Trade Monitoring Group of a sun bear – clearly malnourished and slipping around on a tiled floor – being made to perform tricks for pieces of food.
After the group posted the video in August, Lembah Hijau reportedly found itself inundated with complaints via email and social media, and moved to end performances by the zoo’s sun bear and orangutan.
Sun bears and orangutans are both native to Indonesia and are listed as endangered species as the result of widespread deforestation in Sumatra and Borneo.
The Scorpion Foundation started a Change.org petition to ban all “cruel animal attractions” in Indonesian zoos, which more than 23,000 people have signed.
“We’re very happy that the zoo seems to have done the right thing and ended these heartbreakingly cruel shows. It really does show how much power individuals have in their hands to affect change,” said Animals Asia’s Welfare Director Dave Neale.
“While this move by Lembah Hijau is to be applauded, we must remember there is still a long way to go. Otters and birds, for example, are still abused at this facility in this way. No animal willingly carries out these kind of tricks – they have to be forced – and that can never be acceptable.”
Scorpion has investigated facilities across Indonesia, including the mistreatment of sun bears in Bandung Zoo. Its advocacy led to the Indonesian Minister of Environment and Forestry attending the zoo and spurring management to engage international organisations to improve sun bear welfare.
Animals Asia claimed that public attitudes to animal performances have shifted in recent years, with 19 countries implementing complete bans on wild animal performances
This story first appeared on our sister site, Asian Correspondent.