KUALA LUMPUR: Animal rights activists are praising a government decision to close 6 zoos across the country after they failed to meet the new standards established by the Wildlife and National Parks Department.

The department said that the zoos are being closed after they failed to comply with the new measures and are unsanitary and unsafe for the animals.

They have also not complied with the Wildlife Conservation Regulations 2012, the new regulations regarding the country’s zoos, which came into effect February 1.

The 6 zoos to be closed are Lye Huat Garden in Kedah, Kuala Krai bird park in Kelantan, Countryview Recreation in Pahang, PD Mini Zoo in Negri Sembilan, Taman Kuang in Ajil, Terengganu, and Animal Wonderland at Mines Wonderland in Selangor.

The department said the 6 were closed following examinations by staff at 45 zoos and animal parks across Malaysia.

“All the affected animals will either be released to their natural habitats after a rehabilitation process (for local species) or handed over to other zoos in the country,” the department said in a statement on Wednesday.

Under the new regulations, zoos and animal parks are required to ensure that the welfare, health and safety of the animals are being closely monitored.

The closures also come as another set of regulations are to be established this month, but animal rights activists are tentatively optimistic they will make an impact.

Malaysian Animal Welfare Society president Shenaaz Khan told The Sun newspaper that she believes that without a strong enforcement operation, the laws are meaningless and zoos can continue to treat animals poorly.

Under these new regulations, even forcing animals to ride a bicycle and juggle balls is an act of cruelty to animals because it is not their natural behavior,” she said.

But she fears that without proper government enforcement and ending permits for new zoos in order to focus on the existing zoos and their conditions, these acts will persist.

The new regulations for zoos in Malaysia are in line with international standards, and have garnered the support from animal rights groups and activists, despite the worry over enforcement.

They include minimum cage sizes as well as having quarantine areas and a veterinary clinic or animal hospital with a full-time veterinary on site.

Shockingly, some “animal sanctuaries” in the country do not currently have an on-site veterinary to treat animal injuries.

Also, zoos and other facilities must deliver vaccinations to all animals, “supply nutritious and adequate food, maintain cleanliness and keep a proper medical record of the animals, perform euthanasia when necessary, conduct wildlife shows involving the animals’ natural  behaviour and submit a deposit to the Wildlife Department for the upkeep of animals in the event of a seizure.”

For the country’s local activist community, it is all part of new direction for Malaysia on animal issues and anti-cruelty measures.

“We have long struggled with these issues in Malaysia and finally there is some movement,” Mahathir Abdul Aziz told Bikyamasr.com. “I have been to these places and documented the poor conditions. Already, though I see places starting to change how they work and treat animals.”

News Link:http://www.bikyamasr.com/76498/malaysia-closes-6-zoos-over-unsafe-unsanitary-conditions/