BANDUNG, Indonesia – A critically endangered Sumatran elephant has become the latest animal to die in one of Indonesia’s ill-maintained zoos, an official said Thursday, May 12 sparking anger from activists and politicians.
The female elephant, called Yani, died in the city of Bandung on Java island Wednesday after falling ill a week earlier.
Many of the country’s zoos are in poor condition and house animals in filthy, cramped enclosures. The most notorious, in the city of Surabaya, has been dubbed the “death zoo” as hundreds of animals have perished there.
Bandung zoo said the cause of Yani’s death was yet to be determined but the creature appeared lethargic before she died and pictures showed large sores on her body.
Efforts to save the elephant were hampered as the zoo had been without a resident veterinarian for almost a year, zoo spokesman Sudaryo admitted. (READ: Young vet dies after being trampled by elephant)
Yani’s death comes after a tiger also died in April in a separate zoo. (READ: Bad conditions or natural causes? Rare tiger dies at Indonesia’s ‘death zoo’)
But the spokesman, who like many Indonesians goes by one name, insisted the zoo had done all it could by consulting an outside vet and elephant-keeper and providing medicines.
Bandung mayor Ridwan Kamil visited the sick elephant before it died, as anger mounted about the case, and urged the privately-run zoo to seek outside help.
“If they don’t have the budget to manage (the zoo), they should seek support,” he said.
An online petition calling for the zoo to be cleaned up, which has gathered over 10,000 signatures, said animals there looked emaciated and cages were dirty and rusty.
The zoo has reportedly been temporarily closed as the elephant’s death is investigated, according to local media.
Animal activist Femke den Haas, from rights group the Jakarta Animal Aid Network, criticized a lack of clear rules about how Indonesian zoos should be run with regard to such things as cage size and feed.
“Yani’s case is really just the tip of the iceberg because many animals are dying in Indonesian zoos,” she said.
The WWF estimates there are between 2,400 to 2,800 Sumatran elephants left in the wild, with poaching and loss of their rainforest habitat blamed for population decline.
They are classified as critically endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. – Rappler.com