This Tawau "Zoo From Hell" Housing Animals In Filthy Condition Finally Gets Shut Down
A mini zoo in Tawau was shut down on Thursday, 17 September, after the authorities found out that the animals were kept in extremely dirty conditions
The department's Wildlife Rescue Unit turned up at the Yuk Chin Mini Zoo where they found the animals kept in squalid conditions.
The operation followed an article published by the UK Daily Mail about the poor conditions the animals were kept in.
The mini zoo was set up in 1994 by SJKC Yuk Chin and the Wildlife Department as an educational programme
State Wildlife director William Baya said, "Yuk Chin Primary school has been operating this mini Zoo for more than 20 years now.
"Though its main purpose is to educate its pupils about wildlife awareness, there is no excuse for not keeping the animals correctly and humanely."
Two days before that, UK's Daily Mail published an exclusive report exposing "filthy conditions" of the mini zoo
"I wept when I saw what was going on there," said Upreshpal Singh, director of the Kuala Lumpur-based Friends of the Orangutans, whose devoted work also takes in the care of other animals.
"This is animal torture of the worst kind because to keep them locked up in filthy conditions, getting fed only when someone feels like it, is heartbreaking and a disgrace. It’s the worst zoo I’ve come across."
"From my investigations I’ve learned that many animals have died here due to total lack of care and attention. Of course, the people running it do all they can to hush up these terrible facts."
Upreshpal, who had been tipped off about conditions at the dilapidated zoo, in Tawau, in the Malaysian state of Sabah, was so disturbed at seeing barren cages and hungry animals that he took himself off to a local market and purchased bags of fruit, meat and fish from his own pocket.
Upreshpal added that the animals were starving, as they were only fed 2-3 times a week, and each meal was never enough
"It seemed like the birds and animals had never been fed," said Upreshpal.
"They snatched at the food and looked for more. The crocodiles were particularly hungry and I’m glad I bought them chicken to eat."
"Feeding them shouldn’t be my responsibility and nor should I have to be on hand to try to stop people tormenting the animals. But the message doesn’t get through that zoos like this aren’t meant to be places where animals are put on display so that kids can kick at them or throw rubbish at them."
The exclusive report also revealed that it is a common sight to see schoolchildren torment the animals in the mini zoo
A schoolboy laughs as he kicks out at a frightened monkey peering out from behind a wire cage, sending the animal screeching backwards in terror.
The boy moved from cage to cage, his friends giggling and taking photos on mobile phones, as he lashes out at other animals before a younger boy joined in to more laughter.
This is the distressing daily routine at what one wildlife expert called ‘the Zoo From Hell’.
On top of rescuing more than 50 animals from the 'Zoo from Hell', Sabah Wildlife Department director William Baya has also ordered a freeze to the issuance of all new mini zoo license
“Our wildlife department officers in Tawau and the Wildlife Rescue Unit will oversee the rescue operations of the animals,” William said.
Over 50 animals, which among others include estuarine crocodiles, wild boar, long tail macaques, binturong, small mammals and various other bird species, were confiscated from the zoo.
“It will probably take the rescuers at least two days to translocate the animals."
"Besides that I have directed all my Wildlife Officers throughout the state to freeze issuance of all new mini zoo license and to immediately conduct inspection on all present mini zoo license holders to make sure that the animals that they are keeping are housed and fed correctly” he added.