A ZOOKEEPER in the Javanese city of Yogyakarta, Indonesia was arrested last weekend after it was revealed that he had stolen food money meant for the zoo’s five tigers. Instead, he had used the embezzled funds to buy two motorcycles and a car over the span of several months.
The keeper of the Gembira Loka Zoo was arrested on Saturday in a case that comes barely a fortnight after a Sumatran tiger died from alleged mistreatment at another zoo in Surabaya.
According to the police, the 37-year-old suspect had siphoned 3 million rupiah (US$230) on a weekly basis since June last year until February this year.
“In total, up to the month of February 2016, it is suspected that he embezzled as much as Rp90 million (US$692) in money meant to purchase goat meat [for the tigers],” Yogyakarta Police Inspector Edi Subekti told Kompas, as translated by Coconuts Jakarta on Wednesday.
Coconuts Jakarta had labelled Surabaya’s infamous facility as a “zoo of death” and noted it was not the only Indonesian zoo where animals faced abuse and mistreatment.
The tigers, according to the report, were supposed to be given 17 kg of goat twice a week, but the zookeeper had taken most of the money. This invariably reduced their meals to only 5 kg instead.
The zookeeper had apparently spent the funds to acquire two motorcycles for personal use. He also used the money for a down payment on a car.
The man was arrested following a report lodged by a tiger handler who had observed the tigers’ deteriorating condition in losing weight and fur, noting the reduced number of feedings.
If convicted, the zookeeper faces four years in prison for embezzling the money.
Since the discovery, zoo officials have gone on an effort to get the tigers back into shape with a regular feeding schedule apart from providing additional vitamins.