Langkawi Nature Park denies animal abuse claims

GEORGE TOWN: The Langkawi Nature Park has denied that animals on its sister safari property, especially chimpanzees, were abused and that one of them was shot dead.

The park's general manager Shahrul Hizal Hamid said the chimpanzee died from natural causes related to kidney failure.

Non-governmental organisation (NGO), Friends of the Orangutans, said it has documents and photographs to prove there were deaths of wild animals at the facility, the Bukit Gambang Safari Park in Pahang.

Both wildlife attractions are owned by Sentoria Group Berhad.

Shahrul said the allegations had been cleared between management, national wildlife authorities and the Malaysian Association of Zoological Parks and Aquaria president Dr Kevin Lazarus.

"Lazarus also denied some of the previous arguments raised about our facilities. There is much misconception about us."

Shahrul added that the management has also addressed many of the complaints posted on its Facebook page weeks ago, adding that the park practises an open and transparent concept.

Friends of the Orangutans said in a statement the photographs indicated poor and exploitative treatment of elephants and chimpanzees at the park.

It also urged the authorities to prevent the transfer of two elephants to the Langkawi Nature Park from Bukit Gambang.

"We have been informed that the elephants are chained up and it must be pointed out that they live in a herd and not in pairs," it said.

The NGO also called for a moratorium to be imposed on new zoos until existing ones can prove that they can provide the best care for their animals.

The complaints were also listed in a letter sent to wildlife authorities and Water, Land and Natural Resources Minister Dr Xavier Jayakumar.

Meanwhile, Langkawi Businesses Association president Anthony K. H. Wong said the standard of care for animals in Malaysia is lower compared with developed nations.

He said there is much room for improvement, adding that the public must be the eyes and ears of the authorities in determining the extent of animal abuse.

"We need not look far. Look at the number of stray cats and dogs in our cities.

"We need to be mindful that animals also have rights."

He said the public and private sectors must come together to adopt a keen and effective policy on animal care, particularly at zoos and safaris.