×
Zoos Will Be Forced To 'Feed Herbivores To Carnivores' If The Lockdown Extends Beyond May

Zoos Will Be Forced To 'Feed Herbivores To Carnivores' If The Lockdown Extends Beyond May

With no visitors and no sale of tickets about 60 animal parks, housing approximately 70,000 animals in Malaysia, Thailand, and Indonesia, have been cash-strapped since they were closed their doors in mid-March.

Image Source: Getty Images/Vincent_St_Thomas (L) Getty Images/ Fajrul Islam (R) (Representative)

Thousands of animals, including the endangered Sumatran tiger and Borean orangutans in Indonesia's zoos, are facing starvation as facilities in Southeast Asian countries can no longer afford to feed them. Following the emergence of the pandemic, schools, restaurants, zoos, and other businesses were forced to shut down to stop the spread of the novel coronavirus. Unlike most businesses, zoos housing several species of animals cannot simply shut down as they would still have to provide food to the residents. With no visitors and no sale of tickets about 60 animal parks, housing approximately 70,000 animals in Malaysia, Thailand, and Indonesia, have been cash-strapped since they were closed their doors in mid-March. According to The Sun, most of them have revealed that they only have food to sustain the animals until the middle of May. 



 

Now, most zoos in Indonesia relied on the sale of tickets to run their establishments, but with the lockdown and closure of the borders, things began crumbling. While the staff's salaries were already affected by the reduction of working hours, they did everything in their power to feed the animals. Some even got creative while hunting for food and gave the zoo their own chickens and livestock to keep the animals alive. "We've had to rely on creativity to survive," explained Sulhan Syafi'i, Indonesian Zoo Association spokesman. "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," warned Syafi'i according to Channel News Asia.



 

Zookeepers have taken up the responsibility to collect grass and other plants to keep the giraffe and other herbivores fed. However, the food stocks for tigers and other carnivores had to be altered. Their red meat portions have been cut and are being supplemented with poultry, which is "enough to extend the lifeline" for the time being. Indonesia's zoos depend on its 50 million annual visitors to create its fundamental source of revenue. But with the pandemic, things are not looking good. 



 

Some of these facilities are considering drastic measures as they continue to rely on public donations and appeal to the national government for emergency aid. "We can put down wildlife that is not endemic to Indonesia. 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," shared Syafi'i. Meanwhile, some animal parks in Thailand are completely dependant upon private donations to keep their animals fed. 

Nantakorn Phatnamrob, the owner of Chang Siam Park in Pattaya, which is now closed, said, "Every private zoo is affected." The zoo association in Malaysia had appealed for funds so drastic choices about which animal lives or dies can be avoided. "If the (shutdown) continues to June or July, there will be some problems," said Kevin Lazarus, the chairman of the Malaysian Association of Zoological Parks and Aquaria. "But we're not at that point yet. We're trying to mitigate so we don't come to that kind of scenario."



 

The Neumünster Zoo in Germany also had to consider extreme measures of turning some of its residents into food, following the shortage of funds and disruption in supply chains due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and the resultant lockdown. The Neumünster Zoo, which houses more than 700 animals of over 100 species, drafted an emergency plan listing the order of particular animals who would be euthanized to bear the cost, revealed zoo director Verena Kaspari last month. "If -- and this is really the worst, worst case of all -- if I no longer have any money to buy feed, or if it should happen that my feed supplier is no longer able to supply due to new restrictions, then I would slaughter animals to feed other animals," said Kasari. It remains unclear as to which animals would be slaughtered first but a 12-feet tall polar bear named Vitus-the largest of his kind- has been said to be the last animal to go.

Recommended for you