The Asia for Animals Coalition, representing international animal welfare and conservation organisations expresses deep concerns to the Minister of Environment and Forestry, Dr. Siti Nurbaya Bakar with regards to the use of animals in performances in zoos and safari parks in Indonesia.
“In recent weeks, there has been mounting media coverage and exposés of the inadequate care and treatment of animals in a number of zoos and safari parks throughout Indonesia. Our member organisations have received an increasing number of complaints from international tourists. The abusive and exploitative treatment of animals used in animal performances at these facilities is of particular concern, given the techniques known to be used to control the animals during training and performances,” the coalition states in a letter to the Minister today.
According to the coalition, animal trainers and showmen frequently engage in negative reinforcement, whipping and striking animals, forcing them to carry out unnatural tricks and demonstrating that the animals can only be “controlled” by pain and fear. Members of the coalition have personally witnessed the use of animals in Indonesian zoos and safari parks, as well as circuses, and have documented the animal trainers abusing the animals. “Our colleagues at Scorpion Foundation who monitor and report on the facilities regularly have recently documented additional evidence,” the coalition letter says.
Performance acts in the presence of spectators are likely to cause severe stress to captive wild animals. Loud noise is a well-known stressor; acoustical stress within and outside the human hearing range can cause critical alteration in physiological parameters for captive animals, the coalition expresses further.
Animals are often housed in small, barren enclosures and released from their confinement only for a few minutes during their performance and for training sessions. This can have significant negative consequences on behaviour and welfare. Normal behaviour gives way to a higher percentage of inactivity and/or increased abnormal behaviour, i.e. self-injury, and stereotypies.
According the coalition, stress caused by such conditions can cause severe behavioural and physiological problems for captive wild animals.
The use of wild animals in such abusive performances also contributes to the desensitisation of society to animal violence as viewers, including young children, are taught to regard animals simply as objects to be used and abused for entertainment. This abusive treatment of animals serves no educational value and also leads to a negative international image of Indonesia, with tourists returning to their home countries reporting cases if animal abuse rather than highlighting the natural beauty and the rich cultural experiences which Indonesia is so famous for.
“Globally we are seeing an ever-growing number of countries banning the use of wild animals in performances, with over 50 countries around the world already having passed progressive laws. Indonesia’s on going support animal exploitation in the name of entertainment in circuses and shows at zoos and safari parks is therefore in contravention to the trend we are seeing around the world where there are growing concerns for animal welfare and recognition of the wholly unacceptable abusive techniques relied on to create animal performances,” the coalition explains further in the letter.
“On behalf of our members globally, we appeal for you to join this international movement against the use and abuse of animals in performances, and to pass and enforce laws ending animal shows in captive wildlife facilities. We urge you to work with local and international groups to develop strengthened laws safeguarding animal welfare nationwide, ensuring their serve as venues of education and to promote conservation of wildlife, not animal exploitation and abuse,” the coaliton adds.
The letter to the minister sent on behalf of the 15 organisation including; 1)Animal Guardians, 2)Animal People, 3)Animals Asia Foundation, 4)ACRES, 5)Blue Cross of India, 6)Change for Animals Foundation, 7)Elephant Aid International, 8)Federation of Indian Animal Protection Organisations, 9)Humane Society International, 10)International Fund for Animal Welfare, 11)Philippine Animal Welfare Society, 12)Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, 13)Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, Hong Kong, 14)Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, Sarawak, Malaysia, and 15)World Animal Protection.
The coalition also copied the letter to President Joko Widodo, Vice President Muhammad Jusuf Kalla, Chairman of House of Representatives (Dewan Perwakilan Rakyat) Drs. Setya Novanto, Ak, Executive Director of WAZA Executive Office, IUCN Conservation Centre, Secretary General of the Ministry of Environment & Forestry, Mr. Bambang Hendroyono, Director General of Law Enforcement at the Ministry of Environment & Forestry Mr. Rasio Ridho Sani, Director of Conservation & Biodiversity, Mr. Bambang Dahono Adji, President of the Indonesian Zoo and Aquarium Association (PKBSI), Dr H Rahmat Shah, Secretary General of the Indonesian Zoo and Aquarium Association (PKBSI), Tony Sumampau.
Up to 194 other organisations suport theAsia for Animal Coalition.