There are approximately 61 captive facilities in Indonesia, 52 of these are Indonesian Zoo Association (PKBSI) members. Current criticism of Indonesian zoos is high, with high profile cases being circulated within the media and social media and facilities often listed as some of the worst zoos to visit. Distressing images and reports continue to detract from any efforts actually being carried out by PKBSI and the zoos themselves to improve animal welfare. Wild Welfare is working with PKBSI and the South East Asian Zoos Association (SEAZA) to improve captive animal welfare through training, assessments and support. We are providing veterinary and enrichment training with partners and working directly with a number of Indonesian zoos. We are also providing detailed and specific information to PKBSI to upgrade existing Indonesian zoo legislation.
Indonesia consists of over 2000 individual islands representing some of the planet’s important biodiversity hotspots. There are a total of 61 captive wild animal facilities registered with the Indonesian Department of the Environment and Forestry on the islands of Java, Sumatra, Bali, Kalimantan and Sulawesi. For the most part these facilities are municipal zoos – usually hangovers from the Dutch colonial administration and as such, old and out-dated. They have in recent years consequently attracted a great deal of attention from the press and social media. For example, Surabaya and Bandung Zoos.
In 2011 the Indonesian Department of Environment and Forestry and PKBSI established a grading system for live animal collections which zoos, safari parks and aquariums fall under. The main issues associated with the predominance of facilities with low grades hinges around out-moded enclosure design and poor levels of professional standards within the facilities. This all results in very poor standards of welfare.
The core of the solution revolves around training and capacity building. Wild Welfare has been active in Indonesia since 2014 following a welfare assessment of the infamous “zoo of death”, Surabaya Zoo in east Java. This assessment was performed with the collaboration of the South-East Asian Zoo Association (SEAZA) with the help of the Consul-General of the United States of America in Surabaya. We have since re-visited the zoo annually and maintain an ongoing relationship with the management there. The zoo is presently developing an internal masterplan for re-development. In 2015 Wild Welfare formally met with the Board of the Indonesian Zoo Association (PKBSI) in Jakarta. The Board agreed in principle to work in collaboration with Wild Welfare. The first manifestation of this came in early 2016; in September 2015 the PKBSI Board met with the President of Indonesia. The outcome of this meeting was a request by the President for PKBSI to upgrade two Indonesian zoos per year and Wild Welfare was invited to participate in this process. The first set of workshops took place at Solo (Surakarta) over 11/12 January, and the second over 14/15 January at Bukit Tinggi and masterplans have been developed for both zoos since, with Wild Welfare input.
In August 2016 Wild Welfare participated in a joint Zoo Veterinary training course at Bandung Zoo in West Java. The course was held in collaboration with the Jeanne Marchig International Centre for Animal Welfare Education – part of the University of Edinburgh’s Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies in the UK, the Indonesian Veterinary Medical Association (PDHI) and PKBSI. In total 27 veterinary personnel from 17 PKBSI member zoos attended the course and were able to receive first-class veterinary training. Tuition covered preventative medicine, animal behaviour and specialised avian and reptilian medicine. Attendees were taught by Dr Heather Bacon from the University of Edinburgh, Dr Ligaya Tumbelaka of PKBSI and Bogor Agricultural University, Indonesia, Dr H Wisnu of PKBSI and Dr Wiwiek Bagja of PDHI. Attendees also learnt useful practical skills on training equipment, such as catheterisation and blood sampling. The intention is now to repeat the collaboration and training for the next three years going forward.
In the same year, the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA) commissioned Wild Welfare to perform a training course for the staff of one of its member, Ragunan Zoo in Jakarta. The course immediately followed the Zoo Vet training in Bandung and was given over three days beginning on August 18th and Wild Welfare partnered with The SHAPE of Enrichment in its delivery. A total of 27 animal care staff and 12 management personnel from the zoo attended the course. Wild Welfare focused on the management team and gave training, while the final exercise concluded with the team being divided into groups and each given a section from the collection assessment checklist, and being sent out to self-assess their own zoo. Val Hare and Debbie Ng from The SHAPE of Enrichment thengave three days of practical enrichment training to the animal care staff. The course gave a background to animal behaviour and was aimed at the provision of hands-on practical enrichment.
In 2017, following the circulation of images of so-called starving bears at Bandung Zoo, which were shared across social and international media by the Indonesian animal-rights group, Scorpion Foundation, Wild Welfare re-visited the zoo on February 11, 2017. We were joined byPKBSI. Our own concerns lay more with the expression of begging behaviours by the bears as a consequence of public feeding and the basic, poor enclosures the bears are held in. Recommendations were made to management to upgrade the bear enclosures. The intent is to monitor these upgrades going forward.
Our aim is to continue to support national standard improvements through developing the capacity of PKBSI, and provide training in animal welfare concepts, monitoring and assessment.