The Department of Wildlife and National Parks Peninsular Malaysia (PERHILITAN) has issued a statement following a controversy over the sale of spotted deers by Zoo Negara in alleged violation of procedures
According to the PERHILITAN statement, the spotted deer, also known as chital deer and axis deer, are a species of wildlife that is not protected under the Wildlife Conservation Act 2010 (Act 716).
As such, any sale of the spotted deer by the Zoo Negara to anyone is considered lawful, it added.
"The spotted deer is a wildlife species that is not protected under Act 716. As such, the sale by Zoo Negara is not subject to the Act," read the statement that was released on Saturday, 6 February.
The controversy erupted when the Malaysian Trades Union Congress (MTUC) lodged a complaint against Zoo Negara over the sale
In its complaint against Zoo Negara, MTUC sought an explanation from the Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources (KeTSA) for the sale of six deer, reported Free Malaysia Today (FMT).
All zoos in the country come under KeTSA.
The MUTC had alleged that six female axis deer were sold at RM5,000 each to a private company and that it was not known if the buyer had purchased them for slaughter or for breeding purposes.
"We want to know whether the zoo management is allowed to sell animals at their whims and fancy without following standard procedures. Normally, they should have an open tender for the sale of any government assets," an MTUC general council member A Sivananthan was quoted as saying by FMT.
Sivananthan also questioned who gets the RM30,000 from the sale and highlighted the abuse of power if one or two people are allowed to decide on any sale of zoo animals.
"We are also wondering if [PERHILITAN] had given them official permission," he said.
According to PERHILITAN, Zoo Negara informed them on 3 February that the sale of the six deer was part of its stock management
"PERHILITAN had a meeting with Zoo Negara on 3 February and was told that the sale of the axis deer was part of stock management measures, as their existing stock of over 50 deer exceeded requirements. The move was to optimise the management cost in order to weather through the COVID-19 pandemic," it said.
The department also said Zoo Negara operated as a business entity managed by the Malaysian Zoological Society and was given a permit to operate a zoo under Act 716 by PERHILITAN.
Given that, Zoo Negara is not required to obtain a licence or special permit from the department for sale or purchase of any wildlife species that are not protected under the Act.