Thousands of animals, including endangered Sumatran tigers and Bornean orangutans, are facing starvation in zoos in Indonesia. The zoos have been closed since coronavirus pandemic.
Around 60 animal parks, home to roughly 70,000 creatures, have been closed since mid-March, and most say they have only enough food until the middle of May.
This month, a German zoo director warned some animals might have to be sacrificed to feed others, and Indonesia’s zoo association acknowledged a similar ‘worst-case scenario’.
“If a few more months pass and we don’t get any aid from the government or other international organizations, then with a heavy heart, we’ll have to feed herbivores to the carnivores,” said Indonesian Zoo Association spokesperson Sulhan Syafi’i.
“Most zoos relied on ticket sales, so when they closed, everything collapsed,” Syafi’i said. “We’ve had to rely on creativity to survive.”
Zookeepers are collecting grass and plants to boost food stocks for giraffes and other herbivores. Red-meat portions for tigers and other carnivores have been cut by supplementing their feed with poultry, he said.
Still, it won’t replace the revenue generated by 50 million annual visitors, and some are eyeing drastic measures as they rely on public donations and appeal to the national government for emergency aid.
“We can put down wildlife that is not endemic to Indonesia,” Syafi’i said. “But for wildlife endemic to Indonesia, like Sumatran tigers, we must do whatever it takes to save them. It’s sad, but at this point, we need to start thinking about priorities.”
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