Emergency welfare assessment at Surabaya Zoo, Indonesia

In the last week there have been an increasing number of reports in the media concerning poor animal welfare standards at Surabaya Zoo in East Java, Indonesia.

As the World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA) we welcome the decision to accept an independent assessment of conditions at the troubled Surabaya Zoo. We remain gravely concerned about ongoing animal deaths, poor welfare standards and management at the zoo. In the latest reported incident (8 January) a young lion was found hanged in his enclosure. 

During February a team of international wildlife experts with extensive experience of working with zoo animals will visit the zoo to inspect enclosures and the physical condition of the animals before making immediate recommendations. The visit, which will be facilitated by members of the South-East Asian Zoos Association (SEAZA) and the Indonesian Zoological Parks Organisation (PKBSI), is also being supported by the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA).

Our Senior Wildlife and Veterinary Advisor, Dr Jan Schmidt-Burbach said: “Through the Asia for Animals (AFA) coalition, WSPA has for many months repeatedly raised the serious welfare concerns we have with Indonesian authorities. We’ve made continued calls for an assessment and for immediate action to protect these animals.

“WSPA applauds this new independent assessment by wildlife experts to provide much needed advice and guidance for zoo management that will ultimately help improve conditions and prevent further suffering for the animals at Surabaya Zoo.”

Despite the great step forward in addressing the situation at the zoo, we continue to be concerned about ineffective animal welfare legislation and regulation in Indonesia.

Dr Jan Schmidt-Burbach added: “Sadly, Surabaya Zoo is not the only sub-standard zoo in Indonesia, or for that matter in Asia or the world. There remains the wider issue of improving zoo and wild animal welfare through improved education, regulation and legislation. WSPA can offer expertise and advice to governments to help them make positive changes to protect the tens of thousands of wild animals that continue to suffer around the world in captivity.” 

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To learn about the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums Code of Ethics click here.

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