Off-exhibit secrets of troubled zoos

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, September 2008:
UBUD, GIANYAR–The Bali Zoo, featuring
exhibits from which animals often “go walkabout,”
might be described as emphasizing form over
Occupying a six-acre forested ravine in a
residential neighborhood in Singapadu, a suburb
of Ubud, the Bali Zoo has been described by
tourism media as a “hidden jewel”–and it is, at
a glance.
A closer look reveals
species-inappropriate exhibits, neglect of
animal health, and potentially deadly accidents
to visitors and neighbors lurking just around
many of the bends of the zoo’s winding paths.

ANIMAL PEOPLE discovered a long list of
problems on two visits to the Bali Zoo in August
2008. Many would by themselves be sufficient to
close a U.S. zoo for violating the federal Animal
Welfare Act, pending substantial improvement.
The much larger Bali Safari & Marine
Park, in Gianyar, offers an altogether safer,
tamer atmosphere. The menagerie consists chiefly
of elephants and big cats. The animals cannot
even be seen from most of the park. Few animals
are exhibited even in the animal areas. Shops
and restaurants may outnumber the resident
Jansen Manansang, head of the
family-controlled company that developed the Bali
Safari & Marine Park, Taman Safari at Bogor,
East Java, and the Taman Safari II park at
Ragunan, West Java, was honored on August 14,
2008 in Jakarta by Indonesian president Susilo
Bambang Yudhoyono.
But the Bali Safari & Marine Park
elephant act, in which an elephant steps through
a maze of audience volunteers lying flat on the
stage, would not be permitted at an an
accredited zoo in most of the world. Insurers
and safety regulators would stop it if zoo
association standards did not.
Bali Safari & Marine Park visitors for an
added fee may be photographed cuddling lions,
tigers, and orangutans, at least some of whom
are drugged to stupifaction–as ANIMAL PEOPLE
witnessed and documented for seven hours on
August 31, 2008.
Asia Animal Protection Network founder
John Wedderburn had already posted on the AAPN
“ZooPage” that “the general good impression” that
the park presents “is spoiled by the photography
areas where you can have your picture taken with
a drugged lion or tiger cub lying on a table.”
Wedderburn had earlier noted “various big
catsŠchained to a bench for long periods so that
visitors can have their photographs taken sitting
beside them” at Taman Safari in Bogor, West
Java, owned and built by the same investors.
Many photos posted to web sites by
previous visitors to the Bali Safari & Marine
Park and Taman Safari appeared to confirm
Wedderburn’s allegations.
But Jansen Manansang, who heads the
family-controlled company that developed the Bali
Safari & Marine Park, Taman Safari, and the
Taman Safari II park, is also president of the
South East Asian Zoo Association.
The South East Asian Zoo Associ-ation is
a member of the World Association of Zoos &
Aquaria. Both associations’ logos appear on the
Bali Safari & Marine Park and Taman Safari web
site front pages.
Drugging animals for photography and
encouraging the public to handle animals “is
contrary to the World Association of Zoos &
Aquaria ethics and welfare policy,” affirmed
North Carolina Zoo director David Jones, who is
vice chair of the WAZA ethics and welfare
Jansen Manansang was a member of the WAZA
working group that in October 2006 produced a
document headlined “The Global Zoo Community
takes up Global Zoo Standards through WAZA.”
The 21-page document opened with a
seven-point “Crux of the issue” statement,
mentioning that “a bad zoo conveys unfortunate
subliminal messages,” and expressing concern
about “negative impacts on the safety of animals,
public, and staff.”
This all raised two questions preceding
the ANIMAL PEOPLE visit to the Bali Safari &
Marine Park. First, are the Manansang-directed
zoos actually drugging and/or chaining animals
for photography? Second, if this is happening,
does the Manansang family know about it?
ANIMAL PEOPLE arrived at the Bali Safari
& Marine Park soon after it opened in the
morning. A lion cub photo concession was already
attracting customers. The lion cub offered for
the customers to pose with was sedated to the
point of unconsciousness. He remained
unconscious until about an hour before the
concession closed in early afternoon. He then
began attempting to move and between frequent
bouts of dry heaves appeared to be trying to find
something to nurse from– a hint that he had only
recently been weaned, if weaned at all.
Tony Greenwood, owner of the Peel Zoo in
Australia, joined ANIMAL PEOPLE in observing the
lion cub about an hour after ANIMAL PEOPLE
started. Greenwood, also involved in developing
and attempting to improve the Bali Zoo, had
business at the Bali Safari & Marine Park with
general manager Esther Manansang, daughter of
Jansen Manansang.
Esther Manansang’s uncles Frans Manansang
and Tony Sumampau were Jansen Manansang’s
partners in founding all three of the zoos that
their family owns.
Esther Manansang boasted to media when
the Bali Safari & Marine Park opened that “There
will be no honking car horns or feeding animals”
there, but apparently said nothing about
drugging animals for photos.
While ANIMAL PEOPLE continued watching
the cub, also keeping an eye on two locations
at which keepers sold visitors greens to feed
elephants, Greenwood met with Esther Manansang.
After five hours the lion cub had almost
continuous dry heaves, and was carried to an
off-exhibit area over an attendant’s shoulder,
past a much smaller and younger tiger cub who had
been offered for photography for nearly as
longer. The tiger cub, if drugged, was less
obviously so. The tiger cub was taken off
exhibit soon afterward.
Greenwood emerged from his meeting with
Esther Manansang stating that she had confirmed
that the lion cub was sedated with a
half-and-half blend of Ketamine and Xylazine
(sold as Rompazine). Greenwood later posted a
similar summary of his discussion with Esther
Manansang on the Asia Dana Forum, a web site
about Asian charities and travel, maintained by
“Anada,” one of the investors Greenwood
introduced to the Bali Zoo.
Esther Manansang did not respond to an
e-mail from ANIMAL PEOPLE asking how many lion
and tiger cubs are used for photo concessions,
how often they are drugged, and what becomes of
them when they mature.
ANIMAL PEOPLE forwarded our findings to
both David Jones and the WAZA secretariat in
Liebefeld, Switzerland, along with seven photos
from individual visitors’ web sites and links to
tourism web sites that illustrate and describe
the Bafi Safari & Marine Park photo concession
“The WAZA office have tried to make
contact with Manansang,” Jones reported on
September 19, “but have had no response. It
appears that this is not for the first time [that
similar complaints were made]. Apparently
something similar was reported a while back and
they asked him about it then, with no response.”
Jones promised that he would, “acting on
behalf of the welfare and ethics committee,
formally ask for an explanation, and we will do
that next week,” he pledged, “if there is no
response to the Swiss office.”
Sabine Gyger of the WAZA secretariat had
already asked Jansen Manansang to “Please look
into the matter and respond.”
Taman Safari project consultant Sherman
T. Wong on September 25 referred the drugging
issue to South East Asian Zoo Association animal
ethics & welfare committee chair G. Agoramoorthy.
E-mailed Agoramoorthy on Sep-tember 28,
“Animal shows and photography are allowed in
SEAZA member zoos if they do not violate welfare
and ethical standards. The SEAZA Ethics and
Welfare Committee carried out assessment of all
three Taman Safari Indonesia parks owned by
Jansen [Manan-sang], and did not see any
evidence regarding sedating animals for
photography,” but Agoramoorthy did not say when
this assessment was done. Neither did he mention
the many web site references to the practice.
“I discussed [the drugging] with Esther
[Manansang]. She had no recollection of speaking
to anyone regarding sedating animals for
photography,” Agoramoorthy said.
Responded Greenwood, “The daughter
cannot remember talking to me? I have no need to
lie and the animals tell the tale any way. We
have been in this industry all our lives. We are
not silly. You were with me when we videotaped
the animals in question This practice is widely
known by many visitors. It is no surprise at
The WAZA 2008 annual meeting is to be
held in October in Adelaide, Australia. Jansen
Manansang is expected to attend.
“I am going to suggest that it might be
better for him to come to the meeting having
stopped the practice, rather than it become an
issue in Adelaide,” Jones said. “One way or
another,” Jones promised, “I will get it looked
into and hopefully stopped.”
WAZA peer pressure may influence the
direction of the Bali Safari & Marine Park–or
may not. The Bali Zoo does not belong to either
WAZA or the South East Asian Zoo Association.
And Tony Green-wood, after two years of trying
to lead founder Anak Agung Gede Putra by example,
is openly running out of patience.
Tony and Narelle Greenwood discovered the
Bali Zoo in November 2006. Attendence had
collapsed since the terrorist attacks on Bali
tourism facilities of 2002 and 2005. With 75
staff to pay and 350 animals to feed, the Bali
Zoo was $500,000 in debt.
The Greenwoods bailed the Bali Zoo out
financially and began rebuilding, repairing,
and re-organizing the animal exhibits, but soon
encountered resistance.
For example, Anak Agung Gede Putra, who
shares the name of the longtime hereditary rulers
of the community, was in early September 2008
negotiating the acquisition of 14 elephants. He
hoped to start an elephant trek around the
grounds, to compete with the elephant trek
offered by the vastly larger Bali Safari & Marine
Park. Greenwood wondered where Anak Agung Gede
Putra could even find room for 14 elephants to
stand. Unused space at the Bali Zoo is chiefly
on steep slopes and seasonal floodplain,
potentially suitable for expanding existing
exhibits, but not for year-round elephant
Seeking expert backup for his
recommendations, Greenwood invited attendees at
the August 2008 Asia for Animals conference held
in Bali to tour the zoo and express their views
to Anak Agung Gede Putra.
Among the Asia for Animals visitors who
are known for acumen about zoo management
standards and practices were ZooCheck Canada
founder Rob Laidlaw; Indian Zoo Inquiry Report
author Shubhobroto Ghosh; and Amy Corrigan and
Louis Ng of the Animal Concerns Research and
Edu-cation Society in Singapore. Corrigan and Ng
are noted for their campaign seeking to relocate
the Singapore Zoo’s two lethargic polar bears,
both green with algae.
The findings of the Asia for Animals
visitors, many of them posted later to the Asian
Animal Protection Network discussion group,
focused on small and obsolescent enclosures.
Some of the birds in the entry corridor were
caged so closely that they could barely spread
their wings. The lion and tiger exhibits had
already been enlarged, but are not yet fully
used by the animals, especially the lions, who
continue to pace in the dimensions of their
former habit. Greenwood had rearranged the
monkey and gibbon exhibits to give the primates
space more suited to their needs –but Anak Agung
Gede Putra or some of his staff moved most of
them back to their former quarters.
The Bali Zoo bear pit harks back to the
Middle Ages, when similar pits were built near
marketplaces throughout Europe.
Passing animals around for visitors to
pet and handle, including an endangered slow
loris, would not meet the care standards of most
zoo associations and the legal requirements of
many nations.
Two Javan cattle stood in a reeking pond
of their own diluted excrement, near the zoo
restaurant, with no access to clean running
water or food. Water pipes run along the back
wall of their enclosure. Introducing clean
running water would take a plumber just a couple
of hours.
But there were less obvious failures of
management, as ANIMAL PEOPLE verified on a
re-visit with Greenwood two days after the Asia
for Animals group visit.
A gate to the crocodile and pygmy hippo
pond was open on both visits, with no visible
lock. Several primate cages were left unlocked.
The inmates of one cage appeared to know how to
unhook a lock left open and escape, vocally
objecting when Greenwood snapped the lock shut.
Deer of several species, including some
with fully developed horns, on both visits
hopped casually in and out of their enclosures in
a petting area to mingle with visitors.
The tiger exhibit is separated from dense
housing just a few feet away by a one-brick-width
wall that a tiger might be able to knock down
with a charge. Greenwood said that the smaller
of the two tigers in the exhibit, a white
female, once leaped out of the exhibit to a
visitor observation platform. Had she turned
right, she could have jumped down into the
village. Instead she turned left, into the zoo
grounds, where she was shot with a tranquilizer
dart and returned to the exhibit.
The worst, however, was behind the scenes, in the off-exhibit area.
A barren concrete cell housed two lion
cubs, without food or water. The neighboring
cell housed a lion cub with a large and evidently
infected head wound. A variety of caged birds
nearby also lacked food and water.
Fetching water for first the lion cubs
and then the birds, Greenwood explained that the
local police and wildlife law enforcement
authorities bring to the zoo any wildlife they
confiscate in their work. Often they leave
animals in the off-exhibit areas to be discovered
hours later by staff, who may enter to attend
the ponies stabled there between use at a
pony-ride concession, or to burn garbage. He
believed that the lion cubs were born at the Bali
Zoo, but that the birds were probably
confiscated from alleged traffickers–with whom
they may have been no worse off.
The off-exhibit area also housed seven
gamecocks in the baskets in which they are
typically displayed and taken to cockfights.
Greenwood said the gamecocks belonged to Anak
Agung Gede Putra himself, and were formerly
exhibited near the Bali Zoo entrance. Greenwood
had pressured Anak Agung Gede Putra to
disassociate himself and the zoo from
cockfighting, he said. This, Greenwood added,
was the first that he had seen of the gamecocks
since then.
Behind the gamecocks was a lumber pile.
Atop the lumber pile, clinging to a board in
apparent rigor mortis, recognized immediately by
Green-wood’s children, was the slow loris who
had been passed around for Asia for Animals
conference visitors to handle.
None of the Bali Zoo staff admitted any
knowledge that the slow loris had died. Several
told conflicting stories about where he was.
Aware that a slow loris, as a fellow
primate, may carry any number of diseases
communicable to humans, Greenwood and ANIMAL
PEOPLE spent the next several hours trying to
find a veterinarian capable of performing a
necropsy. The slow loris meanwhile passed well
beyond rigor mortis. By then, Greenwood
believed from his own zookeeping experience, the
odor of the remains indicated that the cause of
death was salmonellosis. The slow loris might
have become fatally ill from being handled by
visitors who had previously touched some of the
zoo reptiles.

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