Thursday, 22 December 2011


Letter: Pay attention to Surabaya Zoo

The Jakarta Post | Tue, 11/22/2011 8:37 PM

Shouldn’t we all be jumping up and down and making a major issue about what is happening to the animals at Surabaya Zoo? Are we all so wrapped up in our own issues that we can’t take the time to notice and take action in whatever way we can?  So far, Wednesday’s article has elicited not one response.

Fourteen animals are in a critical condition, many more are about to be and hundreds are already dead due to neglect. And nobody is doing anything. Or perhaps those who try are prevented by the zoo management?  These animals are defenseless and cannot help themselves. It is up to us as human beings to help them. What is happening at the zoo is unconscionable and in most countries, it is a criminal offense.

Time is running out for these animals. Let’s think laterally what we can all do.  I ask The Jakarta Post to please take up the cudgel on behalf of these poor creatures and keep the situation in the media. Perhaps then we can shame the zoo management into taking responsibility for these poor creatures. I am in Bali but I’m ready to do whatever I can. 

Who else can help? Could the Australian Embassy use some of it’s resources or influence to try to save the Koala bear? Could the US Embassy come to the aid of the American black bear? Could some vets in Surabaya donate their services to help these creatures? Let’s think.

Come on folks, these animals do not deserve this. Please let us get together and do something to help them.


As a retired zoo keeper, I have visited hundreds of zoos around the world. In the US, Australia, India, Thailand, Singapore and the UK and have seen some of the best and some of the worst.

And I would have to say that Surabaya Zoo is in the bottom five zoos in the world. What a disgrace to Indonesia the place is.

Surely Tony Sumampau (the founder of Taman Safari Indonesia and chairman of the Surabaya Zoo temporary management team) can do something to fix this problem.

I understand that he is also on the board of the Taman Safari group. Is this why he isn’t moving to close the Surabaya Zoo?

I can understand that it might look like he is just getting rid of the competition, but we must think of the animals and either close this Third World-looking zoo or fix it.

Through my connections in the zoo world I have found out that the Taman Safari group has one of the leading zoo consultants in Asia and Australia on its books, based at its Bali Safari Park.