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Jakarta Post

Riau zoo management under investigation after death of leopard cub entrusted by police

  • Rizal Harahap

    The Jakarta Post

Pekanbaru   /   Tue, February 4, 2020   /   05:28 pm
Riau zoo management under investigation after death of leopard cub entrusted by police A Javan leopard walks on a branch of a tree. The Tasikmalaya Natural Resources Conservation Agency (BKSDA) has strengthened patrols to prevent a Javan leopard from entering residential settlements around the Gunung Sawal Wildlife Reserve in Ciamis regency, West Java. (Courtesy of Tribunnews.com/File)

The management of Kasang Kulim Pekanbaru Zoo in Riau is being investigated over allegations of negligence after one of two leopard cubs sent by the Riau Police to the zoo died on Friday.

The police had confiscated the cubs as evidence in a suspected illegal wildlife smuggling case and placed them at the zoo for safekeeping in December. 

A veterinarian from the Riau Natural Resources Conservation Agency (BKSDA) Rini Deswita said that a health check on Jan. 28 showed the cub was lively and in good health.

“A few days later, its appetite declined and it started vomiting. On the morning of Jan. 31, a number of medical procedures were administered: [the cub] was given intravenous fluids to avoid dehydration, a number of medicines to increase immunity and antibiotics to prevent secondary infections, as well as anti-emetic drugs,” Rini told reporters on Tuesday.

At around 5 p.m. on Friday, the leopard’s health continued to decline. It became increasingly weak, experienced shortness of breath and finally died 30 minutes later, Rini said.

Riau BKSDA conducted a necropsy to find out the cause of death and concluded that the leopard was suffering from panleukopenia, a disease caused by a parvovirus that attacks the digestive system and potentially the respiratory tract.

“The virus can grow and develop if the immune system is weakened,” Rini added. “Nothing the leopard ate was found to be improper.”

Rini said that parvoviruses could be transmitted through air, dirt and saliva and commonly attacked felines. It was also possible for the virus was transmitted by lions that were in the zoo, she said.

 “In the zoo, there is a lion that was also infected by the same virus. Fortunately, the lion was cured and now is in good health. But it is possible the leopard could still have been infected from [the lion],” she added.

 On Monday, the Riau Police’s Directorate of Special Criminal Investigations (Reskrimsus) summoned and requested information from Rini and the zoo manager, Laskar Jaya Permana, regarding the death of the animal.

 “We need clarification because the animal was evidence in the alleged smuggling of protected animals. We asked for information to find out the chronology and handling from the beginning,” Reskrimsus director Sr. Comr. Andri Sudarmadi said.

Andri said that the clarification process would not stop there as several other related parties would also be questioned as the police continued to explore allegations of negligence.

“We are very concerned, hopefully such an incident will not happen again,” he added.

In addition to the leopard cubs, the Riau Police also entrusted four lion cubs and 58 Indian Star tortoises to Kasang Kulim.

“As regards the rest of the animals, we are still monitoring the situation going forward before deciding whether to move them somewhere else or not,” he said. (syk)