Melbourne Zoo criticised

MELBOURNE: Malaysian Palm Oil Council chief executive Tan Sri Dr Yusof Basiron has lashed out at the treatment of orang utans at Melbourne Zoo here, describing it as deplorable and a disgrace.

Yusof said yesterday he made a quick visit to the zoo to check out the anti-palm oil signs outside the orang utan enclosures and was appalled at the way the animals were screaming for attention in the cold winter.

"They were shivering and were in distress. Orang utans are tropical animals and find it hard to survive in biting cold temperatures. At the Melbourne Zoo, the orang utans had only sackcloth to cover themselves.

"Even then, the sackcloth was small and they were struggling to get it round their bodies. I felt sorry for these poor animals. Unlike human beings, orang utans cannot complain and their screams appeared to be ignored by the zoo." 

Yusof said he could not believe his eyes when he saw food for the orang utans being placed in the open so that visitors could see how the animals ate. "This was a poor show pandering to the people but cruel to the orang utans."

Yusof, who is accompanying Plantation Industries and Commodities Minister Tan Sri Bernard Dompok on an eight-day working mission to Australia, said Australian animal welfare authorities should investigate the pathetic conditions of the orang utans at the zoo, as well as other zoos in the country.

"The zoo must understand that these are animals from the tropics and adequate protection should be given to them during winter. Their enclosures must be warm and comfortable."

Yusof suspects that having the orang utans in such degrading captivity was to win public support in the campaign against a tropical industry and the use of palm oil products. He said having anti-palm oil signs at the zoo was to win public sympathy and to misrepresent the orang utan issue.

"Australians must visit orang utan sanctuaries in Malaysia and see how well the animals are taken care of. There is something sinister behind the campaign by western non-governmental organisations to ruin the palm oil industry." -- Bernama

3 Responses to Melbourne Zoo criticised

  1. Aussie are trying so hard to defend their losing rape oilseed industry, so even in offending mode they will badly do it. It’s a business trick, a very dirty business trick.

    Bullying is not the answer, definitely! Aussies, do it fairly. You can diversify your produce into something unique so it could hold it shares in the market. Remember Asia is booming now and yours is saturated.

  2. Allegations by the Malaysian Palm Oil Council that orangutans are being mistreated during a recent visit to Melbourne Zoo couldn’t come at a more heated time in the debate about the sustainability of the crop and the actions of zoos against it.

    The Federal Parliament recently passed an absurd Bill on the back of political deals by the Opposition and Independents to treat the oil seed differently from other oils.

    In enacted the Bill will almost certainly put Australia in breach of international trade rules. The New Zealand government isn’t happy. And it’s just dumb policy which will neither achieve the objective desired and sets an appalling precedent for food labelling to be used as a political football.

    Putting the policy aside the reaction of Melbourne Zoo’s spokesperson to animal mistreatment, Rachel Lowry, showed a glass jaw on the subject retaliating that the concerns were not raised with the Zoo.

    She made similar comments when www.sustainabledevelopment.org produced a report highlighting that a ‘fact’ sheet on their website wasn’t based in facts at all. Lowry appears more convinced of her own moral superiority than the circumstances of the orangutan she keeps captive.

    Instead of sloganeering she should have addressed the real issue which is what circumstances animals living in captivity face. Certainly being left in the cold is not acceptable. Especially for a Zoo. Even more so when they are happy to lecture others. Let’s hope it isn’t the case.

    Whether the Zoo is actually mistreating orangutans remains up in the air. It’s a classic case of he said, she said. But considering the gravity of attacks against the Malaysian palm oil industry Victoria Zoo has an obligation to at least investigate whether the orangutan they have in captivity are happy and healthy. Not just sloganeering, as they have done to date.

    While that happens the government should turn its focus back to the issue of the absurd law passed by the Senate and ensure that when Parliament resumes in two weeks time it sits on the books for the sake of developing world poor.

  3. the whole story is palm oil industry is much more potential for food and non food. there are trying to use public sympathy on Orang Utans. All these deforestation is much worst happen in Indonesia. Malaysia is controlling well the forest area.

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