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P4PHM >> Timeline


The P4PHM has come under fire from both sides of the divide as efforts to engage the NRE and authorities have resulted in the delay over the enforcement of new laws and regulations. Make no mistake, the P4PHM supports the WCA 2010 Act 716 and calls for wildlife stakeholders to "move forward" with higher standards of animal welfare. However, this progress cannot be made against the spirit of the law nor simply to satisfy parties who have been overly critical of the authorities.

It is necessary, therefore, to reiterate the timeline since December 2010 that led to the formation of the P4PHM and the basis for its arguments:

December 2010

The WCA 2010 Act 716, which was passed by Parliament in August 2010, has a wider scope and jurisdiction in the the protection of more wildlife species and activities related to wildlife. PERHILITAN said that it would have better control on all wildlife species, wildlife derivatives, hybrid species and invasive alien species. PERHILITAN would also have jurisdiction to address issues on wild animal welfare and cruelty.

"Wildlife Act Takes Effect in Peninsula and Labuan" –The Star. December 29, 2010

June 2011

In an unprecedented move, PERHILITAN acted to remove about 60 animals from the "controversial Saleng Zoo in Johor" and which had been the subject of a Starprobe report. Armed with blowtorches and chain cutters, PERHILITAN removed animals that included sun bears, panthers, tigers and lions. Confiscated animals were to be sent to Zoo Melaka and Paya Indah Wetlands, both operated by PERHILITAN. Operators of the zoo claim that it had not been advised by PERHILITAN on its shortfalls and/or what it were required to improve.

"Zoo Bust" –The Star, June 21, 2011
"Officials Remove 60 Animals from Saleng Zoo" –The Star, June 21, 2011
"PERHILITAN Continues "Rescue Work" at Saleng Zoo" –The Star, June 21, 2011

The NRE Minister, YB Dato Seri Douglas Uggah Embas, disputes Saleng Zoo's claims that it was not given proper notice of their wrongdoings or advise on how to improvements management and welfare for the animals. The Minister indicated that he had approved PERHILITAN's plan on June 8, 2012. The animals were relocated to several facilities including Zoo Melaka, Paya Indah Wetlands, Zoo Negara, Taiping Zoo and DWN holding facilities at Temerloh. Depending on which report is read, at least 69 or more than 70 animals were eventually removed from Saleng Zoo.

"Ministry" Ample Warning Was Given to Saleng Zoo" –The Star, June 22, 2011

July 2011

State executive councillor informed the Johor State Assembly that he had been briefed by PERHILITAN that the latter had "the right to raid Saleng Zoo without a warrant or court order under the Wildlife Conservation Act 2010 (Act 716)." PERHILITAN had invoked Section 95 of the WCA 2010 Act 716.

"Zoo Raid Was Lawful" –The Star, July 5, 2011

The two things that PERHILITAN conveniently did not mention were that (1) the WCA 2010 Act 716 was NOT a retrospective law and that (2) Section 94 provided for "Search & Seizure with Warrant."

The WCA 2010 Act 716 should have only been applied on zoos opened after December 2010 and that there should have been a reasonable grace period for existing zoos to comply to new regulations. However, after gaining the "approval" of NGOs, PERHILITAN steam rolled and strong armed many other zoos to surrender animals and/or close down.

August 2011

The Director-General of PERHILITAN is aware of allegations raised by a foreign NGO on the cruel treatment on animals under the care of the Johor Zoo and Danga Bay Petting Zoo in Johor. PERHILITAN also reported that Lye Huat Gardens in Kedah had surrendered its animals on July 9 after admitting that it could not fulfill new PERHILITAN regulations.

"Department Warns Zoos to Shape Up" –The Star, August 11, 2011

As at July 9, 2011, PERHILITAN had yet finalized its proposed Zoo Operations Guidelines and as such, Lye Huat Gardens would have been in no position to "confirm" that they could not meet enclosure size guidelines. Was Lye Huat Garden strong-armed into surrendering their animals?

September 2011

PERHILITAN rescued five animals from Johor Zoo because they were kept in deplorable conditions. The animals, including a tiger that killed a rubber tapper in Kelantan, a chain smoking orang utan and sub-adult elephants that had been reportedly chained. According to PERHILITAN, the zoo has failed to follow the standard regulations and requirements set by the department to provide better and proper living conditions for the animals.

"Animals Rescued from Johor Zoo" –The Star, September 9, 2011

Once again, as at September 9, Zoo Operations Guidelines were not made available to relevant industry stakeholders and that PERHILITAN's actions on the pretense of enforcing guidelines to "provide better and proper living conditions for the animals" is grossly misleading.

Another animal park was raided in Johor by PERHILITAN, a day after the Department raided the Johor Zoo. "The zoo's license to keep non-domesticated animals is being suspended as it failed to adhere to regulations on providing better conditions for the animals," indicated Dr. Zaaba Zainal Abidin (DDG). A total of 132 animals including an elephant, tigers, lions, sun bears, ostriches, monkeys, tropical birds and snakes were confiscated from the park.

"132 Animals Seized at Private Zoo in Johor" –The Star, September 9, 2011
"Danga Bay Animal Sanctuary's Licence Suspended" –The Star, September 10, 2011

PERHILITAN "regulations on providing better conditions for the animals" were not yet finalized at press time and eventually published in February 2012. Logic would dictate that Danga Bay, Johor Zoo, Lye Huat Gardens or Saleng Zoo would not have any official guideline to have complied enclosure sizes or any other welfare guideline.

The living conditions of several animals seized by PERHILITAN has sparked a debate between the Department and an NGO. It was learnt that three seized tigers were kept in a cage of 2m x 2m while a sun bear confiscated from a villager here was left in a small cage.

"Debate Over Seized Animals" –The Star, September 22, 2011

November 2011

PERHILITAN presents 13 lions to the Kemaman Zoo for its upcoming African Safari attraction. According to PERHILITAN, the Zoo was the fourth in the country to receive the lions because it met the required standards to take care of the animals.

"Kemaman Zoo's Latest Additions Ready to Roar" –The Star, November 20, 2011

What regulations did PERHILITAN refer to at the time it was determined that the Kemaman Zoo had met the "required standards"? Zoo Operations Regulations would not be passed until January 31, 2012.

December 2011

New PERHILITAN guidelines give priority to animal welfare. According to PERHILITAN, the Wildlife Conservation Act (Operation of Zoo Guidelines), 2010, were being reviewed by the Attorney-General's Chambers. The guidelines were expected to pave the way for a makeover of zoos as they included the best practices taken from zoos around the world, am improvement to the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972. Guidelines not only covered animal food and dietary requirements but also their welfare, enclosure sizes and conditions. Expected to come into force in 2012, PERHILITAN indicated that zoos would be given a grace period to comply and that it would take some time before changes were carried out in the 42 zoos nationwide. PERHILITAN also indicated that a new task force (checking on zoo and animal conditions) led to the closure of Saleng Zoo in June 2011.

"New Look for Zoos" –NST, December 5, 2011

This news report merely confirms that relevant regulations had NOT been enacted at the time animals were confiscated from zoos between June and September 2011.

April 2012

A new regulation spells hope for the betterment of animals kept in zoos with the implementation of the Wildlife Conservation (Operation of Zoo) Regulations 2012, which was gazetted on February 1, 2012. Zoo operators have been given a six month grace period to comply to new guidelines before they would qualify for a Zoo Operator's Permit.

"New Regulation Seeks to Improve Zoo Conditions" –The Star, April 24, 2012

Many zoos have been in operation for more than ten years and several more than 20 years. Some have been in operation for more than 25 years. A 6-month grace period is logically unreasonable for any zoo to meet compliance. The process for a government zoo, for example, from the time designs are contemplated to tenders and award may take at least ten months!

May 2012

In response to claims by NGOs, the NRE Minister indicated that zoo operators would have until August 2012 to comply to new guidelines that were enforced in February 2012 and that those that did not meet the guidelines on the treatment of animals would have to shut down. The Minister confirmed that the Act was enforced but that the guidelines and regulations for zoos had yet to be finalized.

"Zoo Operators Have Until August to Meet Guidelines" –The Star, May 15, 2012

June 2012

All 45 zoo operators nationwide should comply to guidelines on the treatment of animals before August, to enable them to obtain a license to operate or face the consequences, including shutting down their zoo operations. The Honourable NRE Minister indicated that operators had been given a 6-month moratorium to upgrade their zoos to the standard set since the regulation was gazetted in February 2012. The Minister's comments were made in response to Sahabat Alam Malaysia's claim that 44 zoos nationwide had failed to meet PERHILITAN guidelines.

"Regulations for Zoo Operations Come into Force in August" –NST, June 28, 2012

July 2012

According to PERHILITAN, only 22 of 45 zoos nationwide have complied with new department guidelines. The performance of zoos were audited by PERHILITAN and an independent review panel, comprising university and zoo experts. PERHILITAN warned that unless the remaining 23 zoos got their act together before the deadline at end July 2012, action would be taken against them.

"23 Subpar Zoos Face Closure" –NST, July 25, 2012

August 2012

Zoos that fail to adhere to newly enforced regulations under the Wildlife Conservation Act, 2010, will be closed down, warned the NRE Minister. The Minister indicated that PERHILITAN had identified the zoos but refused to name the zoos. It is explained that prior to December 2010, zoos did not require an operating license (under the Protection of Wildlife Act, 1972) and that the Wildlife Conservation Act, 2010, corrects this shortfall.

"Errant Zoos to be Closed" –The Sun Daily, August 22, 2012

PERHILITAN reported that it shut down six zoos for failing to fulfill "wildlife care regulations." These facilities include Lye Huat Garden (Kedah), Kuala Krai Bird Park (Kelantan), Countryview Recreation (Pahang), Port Dickson Mini Zoo, Taman Kuang in Ajil (Terengganu) and Mines Wonderland (Selangor). Local species confiscated from these zoos were rehabilitated and released back into the wildlife while other species were given to zoos whose operating permits were approved.

"Six Zoos and Wildlife Enclosures Closed Down" –The Sun Daily, August 29, 2012
"6 Zoos Shut Down for Poor Care" –NST, August 30, 2012

Updated April 8, 2013
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