Reporter: George Roberts
Just skin and bones, Melani the Sumatran Tigress teeters towards death and then somehow stumbles back to life.
She’s become a tragic and disturbing example of what can happen to a majestic animal in the supposed care of humans.Melani should have been safe. Unlike tigers in a jungle habitat trying to survive the threats of poachers, development and environmental destruction, she was in a zoo. But the Surabaya Zoo has proved to be no sanctuary.A few years ago Melani and three other Sumatran Tigers were fed meat tainted with formaldehyde. Only Melani survived – and then only just. Her organs were so damaged she was unable to absorb requisite nutrients from her food and couldn’t maintain necessary condition. Until recently this skeletal creature was doomed to crawl around a small dark enclosure critics say resembled a dungeon.Now, finally, she’s getting expert care elsewhere, it’s still no sure bet she’ll survive. If she doesn’t then you can scratch another Sumatran Tiger off the estimated population of between just 300 and 400.“She’s a creature that’s been neglected and abused inside a zoo that is deemed to care for her. To see an animal struggle through this sort of thing you know she wants to live. It’s her will that’s keeping her alive.” SYBELLE FOXCROFT Conservationist
The Surabaya Zoo still drags in plenty of visitors, but it doesn’t appear that much of the money generated by ticket sales and other zoo enterprises goes to caring for animals. Local families who come here for an affordable day out appear oblivious to the startling poor condition of many of the animals and their enclosures.
Those who do know about animal welfare say Surabaya Zoo is a disgrace and grow frustrated and increasingly angry that the City Government responsible for it is not working to solve the problem.
Indonesia Correspondent George Roberts investigates how a facility once thought to be among South East Asia’s finest zoos has become a squalid hell-hole for its inhabitants. Beyond Surabaya he explores why Indonesia appears to put such a low priority on its majestic and important creatures that are being pressed ever closer toward extinction.
Credits: ABC – Forein Correspondet