This is a picture taken from inside Kebun Binatang Surabaya (KBS), or Surabaya "Zoo of Death", one of the largest zoos in South East Asia, caging over 350 species. It has been widely condemned for mistreatment of animals, corruption and uncontrolled breading. The Sumatran tiger shown in the picture, along with other other animals face death due to negligent keepers who were stealing meat and animals from the zoo to sell to the black market. 

Malnutrition isn't the only problem. The animals suffer from preventable diseases, overcrowding and lack of exercise, creating chronic long term back and leg problems. With a low entry fee (approximating at $2) the zoo does not have enough money to provide for the uncontrolled breeding, leaving dim predictions of the survival of the animals. 

Amidst all of this, it isn't the only problem that animals South East Asia face. Due to widespread poverty in a region filled with exotic animals, the lucrative overseas market for these rare species creates a "commissioning" of hunting down these animals for their skins, bones, medicinal use, tonics, horns and other trophy parts. Trafficking tigers from South-East Asia and some parts of Africa is worth about $5 million per year. 

So what is to be done to prevent the extinction of these animals that could be gone with the coming of the next generation? Is the need of zoos more necessary than ever to, in a sense, protect these animals and stop poaching? Or do we need to regulate our forests and wild animals better and allow them to sustain their natural habitat? How can we do our part in trying to influence the next best outcome? provides a neat solution for not only getting the problem some attention, but also bringing our voices to those who can do something about the issue. The current problem facing the zoo of Indonesia is being brought to the attention of the President of Indonesia, Indonesian Embassy and Consulate-general of the Republic of Indonesia. Labelled as the world's petition platform, the website, with others like it, provides a voice to the globally linked community of the world wide web who want to bring about a change to a wrong doing they feel strongly connected to. 

Is this another fruitless method of trying to get the attention of those in power? Or could this be the new power of the people that politicians will have to reckon with?
7/15/2013 09:08:38

I can't see building more zoos as a solution to the issue. If the animals are being so poorly mistreated, would death not be a better alternative to their suffering? I think this would be an issue where the role of governance needs to step in. We don't see issues like this in Canada because wildlife conservation is regulated - i.e. you need a hunting permit to hunt - I'm not suggesting our way is the right way, but implementing a system in which there are implications for those who choose to harm a species at risk would be a start.

7/15/2013 09:23:10

I definitely agree that having repercussions for people who participate in this kind of abuse is important. Such a system would be put in place by the government though, which means that getting the attention of the people currently in power is important. The petition is a good start, and it looks like it has a fair amount of support!

7/16/2013 00:17:28

I agree that death does seem to be the better alternative, but death by the hand of poachers? If we are able to get the attention of government officials who can improve the conditions of these animals, then it would be better for them to have zoos as a means of protection because to protect animals against poachers is a very difficult task, given the range of the land that the animals roam in, it is very hard to monitor what goes on.

7/15/2013 09:33:05

That picture makes me physically ill. I cannot believe how distanced humans can become from the reality of other creatures suffering - whether human or animal. And to think that people pay to see that tiger? I think we need to show people pictures of animals (and other humans) in situations such as these, and impress upon them the importance of their survival to our ecological future, and hope that in opening their eyes to these realities, they will create change through such avenues as, which give concrete evidence to those in power of the public opinion. As this form of public opinion becomes more widespread, people will 'convert' and I think that will allow us to either build more zoos, protect natural areas, or create protected parks for animals such as these.

7/16/2013 00:19:24

Protected parks can sometimes even falter as conservation efforts fall victim to poachers. Take the black rhino for example. They lived in conservation parks but ultimately ended up becoming extinct!

7/15/2013 12:36:21

This is a great blog post Zain! I believe that there should be a decrease in zoos and an increase in habitat regulation. It's awful to see animals in such a helpless situation. Also, the link to is great.

7/16/2013 00:20:30

Thanks Sam! I definitely agree with your point. But this type of regulation needs to be stringent and enforced. Not just created for name sake.


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    As an avid listener of instincts and humanity, I strive to do things that put me out of my comfort zone. Cherishing the growth that comes along with this habit and all the beauty that life has to offer, I'd like to share my experiences with you. 

    All posts and opinions expressed are mine and completely independent of the University of Waterloo and the International Development program.


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