Disturbing videos showing emaciated sun bears begging for food in an Indonesian zoo have sparked backlash from animal rights activists, who are now petitioning for the facility to shut down.
The (mal)treatment of the animals at Bandung Zoo came to light after the Scorpion Wildlife Trade Monitoring Group sent an investigator to monitor the situation last year.
In a series of videos recorded by the group, the skeletal sun bears can be seen standing on their hind legs, begging for food from visitors. One clip even shows a bear defecating and eating its own feces.
"The enclosure is dirty, the water is polluted and unclean, and the floor has no grass. There are no live trees in the enclosure," Gunung Gea, Scorpion's director, told the BBC in an interview, adding activists from his organization visited the zoo to feed the bears fruit, which is an integral part of their natural diet.
Despite the fact that the ribs of the starving bears are clearly visible through their fur in the video, the zoo says it doesn’t maltreat them.
In fact, Sudaryo, a spokesman for the zoo’s operator, Yayasan Margasatwa Tamansari, suggested the bears’ thin appearance did not mean they were unhealthy.
“Does being thin mean being unhealthy or not having enough food? On the other hand, looking fat does not mean an animal is healthy,” he said, according to The Jakarta Post.
This isn’t the first time the facility has come under fire for mistreating its animals. Last May, Yani, a Sumatran elephant, was photographed at the zoo, reportedly “crying hours before it died.”
Indonesia's zoos are routinely criticized for their inadequate conditions. In 2014, Surabaya Zoo, aka “death zoo,” sparked outrage after its animals were photographed living in appalling health and living conditions.
Banner / Thumbnail Credit : Reuters