Archipelago

Indonesia police probe
animal deaths at zoo

An African lion was found hanged on a steel cable inside its cage in the latest animal deaths in Indonesia's largest and problem-plagued zoo, a spokesman said Thursday.

Days earlier, on Sunday, a 5-year-old wildebeest died of a suspected stomach problem due to hot weather and humidity, said Agus Supangkat, spokesman for the zoo in Surabaya, Indonesia's second largest city.

He denied any negligence, but said police are investigating how the 18-month-old lion named Micheal became entrapped by the cable, which is used by zookeepers to open the cage.

The zoo has been criticized over the deaths of scores of animals, including another African lion and a Sumatran tiger, over the last few years. The death of a giraffe two years ago with a beach ball-sized wad of plastic food wrappers in its belly sparked outrage among conservationists.

Built over a century ago under the Dutch colonial rule, it houses some 3,500 animals, among them five African lions and sole female wildebeest.

An online petition has called on the government to shut down the facility, dubbed "the zoo of death." Problems cited by conservations include uncontrolled breeding, lack of funding for animal welfare and suspicion that staff may be involved in illegal wildlife trafficking.

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