A VIDEO showing overly skinny sun bears begging for food from visitors at Indonesia’s Bandung Zoo has triggered a firestorm of protests online, with netizens demanding better treatment for the poorly kept animals.
The footage, which has received thousands of angry comments, was posted online by Scorpion Wildlife Trade Monitoring Group, an animal rights group which has since launched several petitions calling on the government to improve the living conditions of the sun bears.
— Elissa Sursara (@ElissaSursara) January 18, 2017
In the latest petition addressed to the Wildlife Authority (BKSDA) in West Java, Scorpion said its volunteers have attempted to feed the bears with fruits and have demanded access to inspect their conditions more closely. The group has also demanded access to sun bears that the zoo said were undergoing medical treatment.
The first petition launched last year is a few hundred signatures shy of reaching its 200,000 target, while the latest one has gained more than 2,000 since it was launched last week.
But despite the repeated calls, Scorpion says the zoo’s management has denied them their request to examine the sun bears, especially one of the creatures, which was spotted eating its own feces in a video uploaded by the group last year.
Citing the widely-publicised tragic death of 34-year-old Sumatran elephant, Yani, who was pictured crying while it was dying at the zoo in May last year, Scorpion said it fears the sun bears would suffer a similar fate.
“Do you remember the death of Yani who died in the Bandung Zoo not so long ago?” Scorpion asked.
“Prior to its death, Yani was left neglected and did not receive proper medical care as the zoo did not have a single veterinarian.”
Last year, one of the zoo’s giraffes reportedly died and was found to have 40 pounds of plastic trash in its stomach.
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The series of incidences, coupled with visitor testimonies claiming the animals looked emaciated and weak, has earned Bandung Zoo the reputation of being a “death zoo”, the group said, adding that it must shut down immediately.
Scorpion said the condition of the bears contravenes minimum standards concerning the welfare of animals in captivity, which outlines the need for animals to be free of food and water deprivation, environmental discomfort, and from wounds and sickness.
The standards also call for the animals to be free of fear and stress, and to be allowed to behave and express themselves naturally.