The Jakarta Post
he global COVID-19 pandemic has put animal conservation centers in jeopardy.
The Indonesian Zoo Association (PKBSI) said in a statement on Saturday that conservation centers across the archipelago, especially in Bali, were struggling to cover the costs for food and medicine stocks for the animals as well as other expenses.
In March, all conservation centers in Indonesia were temporarily closed to curb the spread of COVID-19.
Although the centers have resumed operations with health protocol in place, the association said that revenue from visitors could not cover the expenses.
PKBSI chairman Rahman Shah said the conversation centers needed help from the government as well as local administrations, explaining that the PKBSI alone could not save them.
Currently, there are 57 conservation centers under the association. The centers are home to 68,933 animals of 4,912 species endemic to Indonesia or from other parts of the world.
A survey conducted by the PKBSI in April showed that 92 percent of the association’s members in Sumatra, Java, Bali, Lombok and Kalimantan – 55 zoos – only had enough stock to feed their animals until mid-May. The survey also found that only three zoos were able to provide food for one to three months, while only two had enough for more than three months.
Following the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, the association had pursued various efforts to assist the conservation centers, such as food distribution to all centers and a fundraising program called Food for Animals. The latter was held to improve the living conditions of animals in zoos, especially those endemic to the country, such as the Sumatran tiger, the Bornean orangutan and Sumatran elephant.
However, all conservation centers and zoos still rely on revenue from admission tickets, which was greatly impacted by the temporary closure of the centers.
The PKBSI added that, although some zoos were managed by local administrations and funded by regional budgets, they still needed funds from ticket sales.
With regard to the revenue collected in the pre-coronavirus days, the PKBSI said that the funds had been used to build new facilities and cover expenses over the past five months, explaining that the operational costs for all conservation centers were around Rp 35 billion (US$2,379 million) per month.
That said, Rahmat urged all parties to take part in assisting the centers through various efforts, adding that they needed help from government institutions, such as tax exemptions from the Finance Ministry, a solution for food stocks from the Forestry and Environment Ministry as well as assistance from the Tourism and Creative Economy Ministry to promote the centers. (jes)
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