Visitors feel pity for Ragunan Zoo occupants
The Jakarta Post
Jakarta / Fri, June 28, 2013 / 08:10 am
Hunger game: A girl feeds a sun bear with peanuts while other visitors watch at Ragunan Zoo in South Jakarta. No clear announcement board is installed in the enclosure on whether visitors are allowed to feed the sun bears. (JP/Corry Elyda)
A group of mothers left an enclosure of sun bears after losing interest in watching a child feed the animals with peanuts.
'Why are the bears so skinny and where is the guide? There's supposed to be a guide here, isn't there?' said one of the mothers, while passing through an enclosure in Ragunan Zoo in South Jakarta one afternoon.
Meanwhile, another visitor, Harpendi, complained not about the animals but the enclosures.
'Some of the enclosures are not clean. I feel pity for the animals,' said the 26-year-old visitor from Bekasi, West Java, after seeing the monkey section.
Harpendi, who has been visiting the zoo since childhood, said that the condition of the zoo was better than the last time he visited but he hoped for more improvements.
Harpendi, who came with his girlfriend, compared the zoo with Taman Safari Indonesia zoo in Bogor, saying it was more enjoyable watching the animals in the wild-like habitat than in cages.
'It was more expensive than the price here but it was worth it,' he said.
Taman Safari charges its customers between Rp 85,000 (US$8.6) ' Rp 150,000 per visit while the tickets at Ragunan Zoo are only Rp 8,000 for an adult and Rp 6,000 for a child.
Ragunan Zoo, a favorite picnic destination and the biggest open green space in the capital city with around 4 million visitors per year, was recently criticized as uncreative and unimproved by Jakarta Deputy Governor Basuki Tjahaja
Basuki said he was disappointed with the current management. 'Ragunan Zoo lies in a very spacious area, but the conditions for the animals are very concerning,' he said.
As many as two animals ' a giraffe and a hippopotamus ' died in the zoo recently.
The head of administrative staff at the zoo, Bambang Triyono, confirmed the deaths, saying on Thursday that the giraffe died of old age in the third week of May.
'The giraffe was 27 years old, which was very old. In the wild, the maximum age of a giraffe is 20 years,' he was quoted as saying by beritajakarta.com.
The hippo, he explained, died last week from kidney failure.
The city has allocated up to Rp 40 billion in subsidies to support Ragunan Zoo, located in a 140-hectare land plot.
Ragunan Zoo spokesperson Wahyudi refused to comment on the Deputy Governor's statement, saying that he let the public judge the condition of the zoo.
Wahyudi said the management is currently making improvements at the zoo, such as renovating the child wildlife park where children could be more engaged in learning about animals.
Wahyudi said the zoo management also paid more attention to the cleanliness of the zoo by installing trash cans every 10 meters and employing around 300 janitors, who regularly checked and cleaned the area.
The city administration has appointed businessman Hasyim Djojohadikusumo, younger brother of Prabowo Subianto chairing the patron board of the Great Indonesia Movement Party (Gerindra), as supervisor of the zoo.
Ahok also hailed Hasyim's appointment as a starting point to improve the zoo to the same quality as the zoo in Singapore.
According to him, this appointment had nothing to do with Prabowo but was mainly based on the consideration that he was an animal lover and businessman.
'I don't believe he will abuse his power and as supervisor he is expected to help develop Singapore level standards,' he said.
Pramudya Harzani from the Jakarta Animal Aid Network (JAAN) said although Ragunan was one of the best city-owned zoos in Indonesia, it still needed more improvements.
Pramudya said Ragunan should improve its animals' welfare, especially the freedom of self actualization.
'Many animals in Ragunan are put in cages, not enclosures,' he said, adding that animals in the zoo needed to feel like they were living in their original habitat.
He said Ragunan still had the space to build bigger enclosures for its animals and change the setting of the enclosures to resemble a wildlife environment.
Pramudya said he was also concerned about the management of the zoo, adding that it was so far only a picnic area, not yet an education center.
'Ragunan still fails to educate its visitors as it lacks comprehensive information boards and guides, who could give more information about the animals,' he said.
Ragunan only provides basic information about the animals like the name, origin, food and habitat.